I'd just like to apologize for any offense I may have given in this thread. Certainly, some of my posts were stated in provocative terms, and I took a kind of perverse delight in attempting to shock those with opposing viewpoints, while entertaining myself and those who shared my views. I often did not take into account the hard feelings I might have been engendering, and for that, I was wrong and am sorry.
I've had a bit of a hard time putting my feelings into words, but Vincent Darlage summed it up beautifully as "the pastiches excite you for some reason." That is true. I honestly can't remember for 100% certain, but looking back to 1983, I think I read Robert Jordan's Conan books before I read Howard or anybody else (with the sole 1978 exception of an issue of Savage Sword of Conan with deCamp's Curse of the Monlith adapted on the cover). I think my interest in Conan was then renewed by the recent release of the first movie and by the new attaction at Universal Studios, which I attended (and was enraptured by) while on vacation with my family. I even bought a pair of plastic Conan swords so I could duel my sister. The swords didn't outlast the first night's fighting (cheap crap), but my enthusiasm for Conan did.
I initially bought Jordan's Conan the Invincible, read it on my trip, thought it was the greatest book I had ever read (up there with Priest Kings of Gor) because of the detailed setting, the characters (especially Karela and Hordo) and the high nudity, sex and violence quota. I was twelve or thirteen at the time. I went back to the bookstore before we caught the flight home and bought the other two Jordan novels: CONAN THE DEFENDER and CONAN THE UNCONQUERED. Then I bought all the Ace paperbacks (I was a huge Frazetta fan) and remember being disappointed by them. They did not seem to have the same level of sex and violence on display or the same style of writing that flew off the page. I bought everything Jordan wrote for Conan, even the Destroyer novelization. I thought nobody could write better than Robert Jordan, and when he stopped writing Conan, I stopped reading Conan, except for the comics. To me, Robert Jordan was Conan, and everybody else failed to capture Conan for me. I knew Conan was old and created by Howard, but didn't care. I thought he was PERFECTED by Jordan. So that's how I felt about it in the 80s.
Since this January, while waiting for the Conan RPG to come out, I reread the first four Jordan pastiches and loved them all just as much as when I first read them. I haven't gotten around to rereading his last two Conans yet, because I've been too busy reading tons of pastiches by other authors and all my old Savage Sword of Conan magazines. I've also read around a half dozen of the "uncut" Howard stories (as well as a few of the deCamp revisions or pastiche shorts), and TBH, I was a little bored by them in parts, or else thought them seriously flawed from bordering on the ridiculous (Tower of the Elephant--I just think an elephant headed alien is too bizarre to be believable--although I have no trouble believing in squid-headed aliens like Cthulhu, so go figure). So, I went from being excited about rereading the now "uncut" REH Conan to being rather apathetic. I find myself far more excited about reading John Maddox Roberts' pastiches. So much so, that after my initial foray into REH, I set him aside in favor of more pastiches. To me, the pastiches, while some are flawed (he saves the world entirely too much), capture what Conan means to me, that same spirit of heroic adventure that compels me to play RPGs for the past twenty-one years and forseeable future. I know this is not a popular opinion to hold, but nostalgia commands me... :roll: Maybe it's because the pastiches are the equivalent of literary "fast food" and Howard is the equivalent of a seven course meal. Maybe I'm making a mistake. Maybe my opinion is hopelessly "wrong", but it is sincerely how I feel, at least at this time. I'll be the first to admit it when and if I change my mind.
That said (and off on a tangent), I lost all interest in Jordan after he quit writing Conan pastiches. Never read or had any interest in Wheel of Time; I think I felt somehow "betrayed" when he quit, even though that's silly. I do plan on finishing the Coming of Conan when I finish my pile of pastiches and have "no other choice" (I have the Kull collection from the 70s too and REH's Red Sonya story "Shadow of the Vulture" in Echoes of Valor III to read as well).