What can I say about 800+ pages of pure Howard Conan goodness? Not much other than it's bloody fantastic. If you've never read the *original* Conan, you're in for an incomparable treat. Howard writes more vivid, passionate, thunderous action scenes than perhaps ANY other writer in history. "Howard's writing seems so highly charged with energy that it nearly gives off sparks!" writes Stephen King. King, no mean author himself, is absolutely true. Conan isn't the dumb, bull-headed barbarian portrayed in popular media. In fact, the very first story starts with him updating the royal library because he thinks some of it is out of date. Hardly the debut of the cartoon character most people think he is!
Fortunately, as I've said, there's over 800 pages for newcomers to realize how far off that image really is. If you're familiar with Conan, this is an excellent book to revisit an old legend. This is pure, 100% Howard Conan. No edits, no pastiches, no add-ons. Pure Howard. If you haven't read Howard's Conan, and you have a pulse, you owe yourself to read it! If you have read it, and are looking to get it again, it's now just waiting for you.
How does it compare to the Del Rey series of Conan books? First, the artwork in this book isn't quite as good, and there certainly isn't nearly as much of it. The general editing (like cathing speeling errrors) isn't as good as the Del Rey books, but it's not awful. The binding of the book (hardcover) is reasonable, but not Wandering Star, top-notch quality. But this book does offer the tremendous advantage of giving one ALL of the Conan stories in one handy volume, which makes it a great asset to any collection. Besides the Conan stories, it has a relatively complete Howard bibliography at the start, some quotes about Howard from a number of famous authors, numerous Conan fragments (unfinished stories) and an afterwords by Stephen Jones outlining Howard and Conan's lives. The afterword is decent summary of both, and it is quite fair and balanced.
So the bottom line is that if you want the new releases of pure Howard, you now have two choices: the three excellent books from Del Rey, that offer more content and artwork or this great single book that offers a bit fewer bells and whistles but comes in one single volume (for a cheaper price). The real bottom line is that it's pure Howard Conan, which means this is pure dynamite just waiting to explode when you pick it up and read it!