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"Spear And Fang"-- R E H Story Of The Month


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#1 Winterghost

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Posted 05 January 2007 - 11:02 PM

REH Story of the Month: January 2007

Story: Spear and Fang
First Publication: Weird Tales, July 1925

Robert E. Howard was only eighteen years old in 1924 when he sold his first short story to Weird Tales magazine. Of this story, Mark Finn wrote in his Howard biography: "'Spear and Fang' wasn't literature, nor high art, but it stood out in one important aspect; the story was practically all action, galloping along at breakneck pace (Blood and Thunder, page 88)."

You can currently find this story in Shadow Kingdoms-- The Weird Works of Robert E. Howard, Volume 1. It's a quicky, and next month's story, In the Forest of Villefore, is even shorter (and will be posted in this forum nest month as well).


WARNING: THIS THREAD WILL CONTAIN DISCUSSION OF THE STORIES CONTENT, AKA "SPOILERS."

Edited by Winterghost, 05 January 2007 - 11:03 PM.


#2 nabonidus11

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 05:18 PM

This story reflected the feeling of the day in that Cro Magnon man was replacing Neaderthal man by force. That older meant more primitive and therefore more violent and crude. The story itself is a good effort. However, the character are cardboard stereotypes. In many ways this story reminds me of ERB more than REH. In another thread a discussion of possible influences on REH mentioned that REH may have read about John Carter and Tarzan. This story seems to grow from the influence of others, obviously REH is learning his craft in this story.
'Men are fools, as always," grunted Conan. "If the plague struck all who sinned, then by Crom, there wouldn't be enough left to count the living!..."

#3 deuce

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 11:51 PM

This story reflected the feeling of the day in that Cro Magnon man was replacing Neaderthal man by force. That older meant more primitive and therefore more violent and crude. The story itself is a good effort. However, the character are cardboard stereotypes. In many ways this story reminds me of ERB more than REH. In another thread a discussion of possible influences on REH mentioned that REH may have read about John Carter and Tarzan. This story seems to grow from the influence of others, obviously REH is learning his craft in this story.


Howard definitely read the John Carter, Tarzan and Pellucidar tales. He had more ERB volumes in his personal library than anybody else, including London. Evidently, he even wrote a letter to ERB asking about the correct pronunciation of "Tarzan". He was a stickler about pronouncing names correctly. "Conan" is another good example. Hope that helps. :)

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#4 Cimmerian Wanderer

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Posted 07 January 2007 - 12:50 PM

This is a short read, not a complex story either. Darn good when you consider Howard's age at the time.
The Cro-magnon, Neanderthal views do date the story, but any story that contains current viewpoints about some
scientific subjects will be dated.
I like the story regardless, it does have a very fast pace. Fun read!


CW

Edited by Cimmerian Wanderer, 07 January 2007 - 12:52 PM.

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#5 godzilladude

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Posted 08 January 2007 - 03:45 PM

This is a short read, not a complex story either. Darn good when you consider Howard's age at the time.
The Cro-magnon, Neanderthal views do date the story, but any story that contains current viewpoints about some
scientific subjects will be dated.
I like the story regardless, it does have a very fast pace. Fun read!


CW


And two guys fighting over a gal, a classic conflict basis that REH would use throughout his entire writing career. One his readers can relate to.

#6 Cimmerian Wanderer

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Posted 09 January 2007 - 08:09 AM

Very good point, Godzilladude. You are right on the money there. :D

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#7 Winterghost

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Posted 26 January 2007 - 03:35 AM

Given that this was his first WT sale, I'd put an 8/10 on this simple, short but very enjoyable story.

Maybe because it's so short I don't have much to say about it. Surely the understanding and belief of primitive man in Howard's time was reflected some in this story. To me, it was like reading an old silent film, where every facial expression and gesture was overplayed, and imagining it likie that made it very enjoyable. Everyone in hokey costumes and too much eye makeup. But then there was, especially toward the end, the sure feel of a Tarzan story.

I wonder if Howard was projecting himself as the artistic caveman ahead of his time.

Some of the dialogue didn't fit for me, but that's okay; it was his first sale and he was about to rocket into greatness.

What have I gained frm this story? Let's see... Ah, two new pet names for my wife; "moon of deight" and "my little antelope."

Next month: "In the Forest of Villefore" and "Wolfshead." Be there or be were(wolf). Okay, yeah, that was pretty much a stinker. :blink:

#8 deuce

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Posted 26 January 2007 - 04:58 AM

Thanks for the heads-up, WG. You can bet that I'll be wading in to next month's discussion. I read "Villefere" in 8th grade.

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#9 Winterghost

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Posted 26 January 2007 - 01:45 PM

Thanks for the heads-up, WG. You can bet that I'll be wading in to next month's discussion. I read "Villefere" in 8th grade.


Been a little while since I have too, but I've never read Wolfshead before, so I'm looking forward to it. Thanks, Deuce.

#10 Strom

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Posted 27 January 2007 - 05:04 AM

I've been reading quite a bit lately and wanted to take some time to read "Spear & Fang" and participate in the monthly REH discussions. It's been awhile since I have read 'Spear & Fang" and don't remember enjoying it as much as I did this time.

"The result was crude, but gave evidence of real artistic genius, struggling for expression."

The above quote from Spear & Fang captures my feeling about this story. Some parts I had to re-read in order to follow the action or story as Howard meant it. But as mentioned by others, the story bears similar conflicts and the essential Howard strengths are evident even in this very early effort.

Interesting that in the first story Howard sold the protagonist was a woman - A-aea. Spear & Fang is A-ea's story and it has an almost fairy tale type quality to it. The beautiful cavewoman pines for the intelligent, creative and handsome warrior. She rebels against the tradition of the tribe to try and make her feelings known but fails. Doubting that she will ever make the warrior love her she is captured by a monster (basically) and lo and behold - saved by her prince who immediately announces his love - "What I have fought for I will keep".

Now, granted Spear & Fang wasn't that sappy but the elements were there and certainly reflected the immaturity of Howard as a writer and probably & certainly normally as a young teenager/man. However, the action sequences and the historical explanation for the current cultural conflict expands the plot beyond a simple fairy tale and provides necessary meat while the plot is just gravy.

I couldn't help thinking as well, what Bob was thinking and feeling when he sold this story to Weird Tales. Mark Finn writes in his great biography "Blood & Thunder - The Life & Art of Robert E. Howard" about Bob learning about the sale :

Robert was ecstatic. Lindsey Tyson watched as his friend knelt down by the bed and bowed his head quietly for a few minutes. When he stood up, Robert E. Howard was born.


In a tragically short life, it's really great to read about the good times in Bob's life. The acceptance of "Spear & Fang" will always be one of those undeniable good times. For that reason alone I would give this story a hearty 10/10. B)

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#11 Winterghost

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Posted 01 February 2007 - 02:29 AM

[quote]Robert was ecstatic. Lindsey Tyson watched as his friend knelt down by the bed and bowed his head quietly for a few minutes. When he stood up, Robert E. Howard was born.[/quote]In a tragically short life, it's really great to read about the good times in Bob's life. The acceptance of "Spear & Fang" will always be one of those undeniable good times. For that reason alone I would give this story a hearty 10/10. B)[/quote]

Exactly! I lovd that line in the book as well. I wonder if, as the years passed, Bob continued to think fondly of that story and sale. Did it put a smile on his face every time he thought about it?

Hmmm, I never really thought of this as being A-aea's story, though we do follow her for most of the time. She is passive in all the action, though. But yeah, now that I think about it, it is her story, isn't it. She reached her goal; she got her man.

#12 Almuric

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Posted 01 February 2007 - 10:52 PM

It's the worst of stories, it's the best of stories. It's very short and crude, but full of the energy that marked all his work. Compared to his best, it's not so good, but it's still important in that it launched his career, so for that reason alone, this is a good story. And the best was yet to come!
"It is more than a mortal sea. Your hands are red with blood and you follow a red sea-path, yet the fault is not wholly with you. Almighty God, when will the reign of blood cease?"

Turlogh shook his head. "Not so long as the race lasts."


--- The Dark Man, by Robert E. Howard

#13 deuce

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Posted 02 February 2007 - 08:20 AM

I think that some thanks should be given to Jim Baen (RIP), David Drake and SM Stirling. When Jim Baen launched the "Howard Library" series in the late 90s, there hadn't been a showcase for REH's non-Conan work in two decades. Baen and Drake (editor-in-chief) tried hard (but unsuccessfully, in some cases) to bring "pure" texts to Howard fans. Still, theirs was a heroic effort. Stirling (best-selling author and lifelong Howard fan) was the editor on Eons of the Night. To the best of my knowledge, "EotN" was the first book publication of "Spear and Fang" ever. I bought the book simply to get this never published (in book form) yarn. The rest of the book was well worth it. Lest they be forgotten...

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#14 Strom

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Posted 02 February 2007 - 01:28 PM

I own "Eons of the Night" as well. It's a great book and cover. My brother gave it to me for x-mas back in 1996. Yes, there were REH stories published in the 1990's - and they were sold in national bookstores just like the Del-Rey books currently. Very cool.

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#15 Cimmerian Wanderer

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 12:26 PM

Yes, the Baen books released from 1995-96 are very nice, they were my introduction to Howard's other
Characters. I currently own all 7 vols. Wished they had of done El Borak, Damnit.
Baen also released Chtulhu, the Mythos and Kindred Horrors 1987.
Ace re-released the Berkley books, from the late 70's, starting in 1986. They didn't do all of them
I'm pretty sure, but Ace did print The She-Devil 1983, these books showcase other characters than
Conan. Sorry couldn't let the two decade comment slide, it's misleading. Some newer Howard fans
May not know of them, and not seek them out.
Please Deuce, don't take offense to the comments above, I respect your opinions, and you are very knowledgeable.
I was to young in the 70's, and didn't know about the Berkley books until later, late 80's or so. Thank's to
Ebay and used bookstores I've amassed a large Howard library, but I again didn't know about the Cryptic
Chapbooks until to late, they are pretty much by and large out of my price range, arrgh!
As stated in previous post, liked Spear and Fang! :D
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#16 deuce

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Posted 06 February 2007 - 12:02 PM

You're right, CW. I guess I was letting my enthusiasm for the Zebra books (that got me started on Howard) run away with me. I suppose what I meant was that the Baens were the first unified,"from-scratch", non-reprint/carry-over-from-Zebra "Howard library" in twenty years. As I recall, Jim Baen (RIP) was in charge of that stuff when he was at ACE. Quibbling aside, that was my intent. :)

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#17 Slokes

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 03:33 PM

Article on Yahoo! News site from today (7/22/09) definitely reminded me of "Spear And Fang".

http://news.yahoo.co...videncesuggests

#18 Hawkbrother

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 01:38 PM

And the find in that story was in Iraq! Guess some things never change in that part of the world.

#19 Hawkbrother

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 06:21 PM

Thanks for the heads-up, WG. You can bet that I'll be wading in to next month's discussion. I read "Villefere" in 8th grade.


Been a little while since I have too, but I've never read Wolfshead before, so I'm looking forward to it. Thanks, Deuce.


The mention of Wolfshead reminds me that the first non-Conan Howard book I purchased was the Lancer paperback with that title, which came out around the time the first Lancer Conans and King Kull did.
Had a Frazetta cover with a swordsman fighting a giant snake that had encoiled him.Some great stories- where I first read Horror from the Mound and Cairn on the Headland, among others.

Edited by Hawkbrother, 23 July 2009 - 06:21 PM.


#20 Konorg

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 08:21 PM

I recently read Spear and Fang,and it is an awesome story.

Has anyone else here read it? If so what is your opinion on it,and did R.E.H. write anyother stories with the main cave man in it?


Joseph


The aveage civilized man is never fully alive;he is burdened with masses of atrophied tisse and useless matter.Life flickers feebily in him;his senses sre dull and torpid...In devloping his intellect he has sacrificed far more then he realizes."