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Just Read Bran Mak Morn: The Last King (My First Howard)


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#1 Gibush

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 10:08 AM

Yeah - I just finished all the stories in this collection, from Men of the Shadows to Children of the Night (in the Miscellanea, though it really feels part of this "whole").

I had heard that the stories were all interconnected, but in my opinion, this reads as an epic. Sure, the actually stories only take up 232 pages (minus the typescript of the Little People), but it's like a vast, deeply chilling history.

I admit, I'd never even heard of Picts - I don't know much about history, and indeed, I sort of glossed over the parts that read "And the Gaels drove the (race) from the isle of (whatever)" as I didn't really have much to relate it to. That said, I feel like this book gave me a sense of how far back it all goes, even if it wasn't necessarily accurate or if the Picts never really existed - that's what great fantasy does.

I think the Little People was by far the weakest story - supposed it was inspired by Machen, and I've never read him. It repeated a very common theme of this book - race rage (lol) - he remembers something from his race, and gets all mad, and kills the warped, stunted guys.

Worms of the Earth was my favourite, followed by the Dark Man. Excellent stories. Incredibly atmospheric, all of them, too... it more or less draws you in from the very start and gives you a taste of the harsh reality of the times.

(spoiler) Getting to the end, it was a bit confusing, as the continuity got a bit screwed up (the editor of the book writes about this in a note) as it says the Children of the Night are the stunted, dark ones, and the Picts were related to the Celts, and were tall and proud (I think?) - but still, when Ketrick was revealed to be an ancestor of the Children, it was deliciously horrible - a very classic, Lovecraft style twist ending (kind of like Arthur Jermyn if I remember.)

I have the first Del Rey volume of Conan ready to go. This is good stuff.

Cliffsnotes:
Book was good
It all fits together
Gonna read more

Edited by Gibush, 29 February 2012 - 02:35 AM.


#2 MilkManX

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 06:20 PM

The Bran Mak Morn stories are great! Yes there is a bit of variance in the character/world a bit as he was playing with it. Not as cohesive as Conan or Solomon Kane but enjoyable.
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#3 johnnypt

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 07:30 PM

Yeah - I just finished all the stories in this collection, from Men of the Shadows to Children of the Night (in the Miscellanea, though it really feels part of this "whole").

I had heard that the stories were all interconnected, but in my opinion, this reads as an epic. Sure, the actually stories only take up 232 pages (minus the typescript of the Little People), but it's like a vast, deeply chilling history.

I admit, I'd never even heard of Picts - I don't know much about history, and indeed, I sort of glossed over the parts that read "And the Gaels drove the (race) from the isle of (whatever)" as I didn't really have much to relate it to. That said, I feel like this book gave me a sense of how far back it all goes, even if it wasn't necessarily accurate or if the Picts never really existed - that's what great fantasy does.

I think the Little People was by far the weakest story - supposed it was inspired by Machen, and I've never read him. It repeated a very common theme of this book - race rage (lol) - he remembers something from his race, and gets all mad, and kills the warped, stunted guys.

Worms of the Earth was my favourite, followed by the Dark Man. Excellent stories. Incredibly atmospheric, all of them, too... it more or less draws you in from the very start and gives you a taste of the harsh reality of the times.

(spoiler) Getting to the end, it was a bit confusing, as the continuity got a bit screwed up (the editor of the book writes about this in a note) as it says the Children of the Night are the stunted, dark ones, and the Picts were related to the Celts, and were tall and proud (I think?) - but still, when Ketrick was revealed to be an ancestor of the Children, it was deliciously horrible - a very classic, Lovecraft style twist ending (kind of like Arthur Jermyn if I remember.)

I have the first Del Rey volume of Conan ready to go. This is good stuff.

Cliffsnotes:
Book was good
It all fits together
Gonna read more


I had the same reaction when I read all the Pict material in one place like this; with some editing it would make a relatively semi-cohesive whole, almost like a Michner novel. Some stories aren't quite going to fit together (Lost Race/Men of the Shadows, Little People/Children of the Night), but it's interesting to think of it that way. If Wright thought Men of the Shadows was a history of a people, imagine seeing all this material together!

Speaking of editing, is it wrong for me to think of the "Drums of Pictdom" verse as a missing final verse to Song of the Race?

#4 Taran

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 03:53 AM

While there aren't many of them, I think the Bran Mak Morn stories are core to Howard's work, and Worms of the Earth is certainly one of his best stories.

Edited by Taran, 01 April 2012 - 03:53 AM.

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#5 Rockamobile

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 08:48 PM

While there aren't many of them, I think the Bran Mak Morn stories are core to Howard's work, and Worms of the Earth is certainly one of his best stories.


That story and Kings of the Night.