Literature: Kull

Kull is a character appearing in a series of short stories by Robert E. Howard, the few of which published during his lifetime appeared in Weird Tales. Kull is a barbarian hailing from Atlantis, but was exiled from his homeland. After some years as an adventurer, Kull made himself king of Valusia in a bloody coup. He lived approximately 100,000 years ago (according to Kings of the Night).

Howard's more famous Conan the Barbarian inhabits the same continuity as Kull, but lives many thousand years later. Kull is a precursor of sorts of Conan; indeed, the first Conan story was a rewrite of a Kull story Howard had not sold. Both are fierce barbarian warriors, but Kull is a more thoughtful, philosophical character.

The Kull stories are a peripheral part of the Cthulhu Mythos. Perhaps most notably, Cthulhu fans will recognize the Serpent People who appear in The Shadow Kingdom.

    Kull stories written by Robert E. Howard 
Few Kull stories were actually published in the lifetime of Howard, as the character was not particularly popular.
  • The Shadow Kingdom. First published in August, 1929. First Kull story.
  • The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune. First published in September, 1929.
  • Kings of the Night. First published in November, 1930. Features a crossover with Bran Mak Morn.
  • The King and the Oak, a poem. First published in February, 1939.
  • The Altar and the Scorpion. First published in 1967.
  • Black Abyss, also known as The Black City. First published in 1967. Howard actually left the story unfinished. Lin Carter added further chapters and a conclusion to the story.
  • By This Axe I Rule. First published in 1967. Famed because Howard revised the story to The Phoenix on the Sword (1932), the first Conan story.
  • The Curse of the Golden Skull. First published in 1967.
  • Delcarde's Cat, also known as The Cat and the Skull. First published in 1967.
  • Exile of Atlantis. First published in 1967. Howard finished the story, but never gave it a title.
  • The Skull of Silence, also known as The Screaming Skull of Silence. First published in 1967.
  • Swords of the Purple Kingdom. First published in 1967.
  • The Striking of the Gong. There are two version of this tale. The original Howard version was first published in 1976, and a version revised by Lin Carter in 1967.
  • Riders Beyond the Sunrise. There are two version of this tale. The original Howard version was first published in 1976, and a version revised by Lin Carter in 1967.
  • Wizard and Warrior. There are two version of this tale. The original story draft by Howard was published in 1978, an expanded tale by Lin Carter appeared in 1967.

Some Kull stories here.

See also: Robert E. Howard, Conan the Barbarian, Bran Mak Morn.

Not to be confused with the big Urgals from Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle (though Kull probably inspired their name) or with the movie Krull although there was a 1997 movie Kull with Kevin Sorbo in the title role.

Tropes

  • An Axe to Grind: "By this axe, I rule!"
  • Asexuality: Kull "was not interested in women", according to The Shadow People and The Cat and the Skull.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Come on, say it, KULL.
  • Ax-Crazy: The reader often gets the feeling that Kull is bored very easily with his job. "Kull, who opens Pandora's Boxes like birthday gifts".
  • Badass Grandpa: Kull won't allow age to lessen his contempt if you are not this.
  • Badass in Distress: Kull himself in Swords of the Purple Kingdom. He thought Brule was one in The Cat and the Skull.
  • Big Bad: Thulsa Doom is a self proclaimed one (though he only appears in one of Howard's stories)
  • Berserk Button: Kull will look for any excuse to go kick someone's ass. He easily bored
  • Deadly Decadent Court: The state of existence in Valusia for so long that literally no native Valusian can conceive of any other way to be.
  • Fake King: The Serpent People do this, murdering and replacing the rulers of Valusia and other lands.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Kull and Brule the Lance-slayer, justified by the fact Brule acts as his bodyguad and also is one his few true friends and collaborators.
  • I Am the Noun: "I AM THE LAW!", Kull said, fed up with the Can't-Marry-Slaves law. He takes an ax to it. Could very well be a Trope Namer.
  • Pet the Dog: Kull has a soft spot for young lovers and other such fools.
  • Precursors: The Serpent People and other races (implied).
  • The Power of Friendship: Despict being from enemy races Brule shares with Kull a great friendship, in more than one occasion each one has saved the life of the other, even in one situation where they had to face a cosmic entity.
  • Purple Prose: Howard was one of those exceptional writers who did this well.
  • Recursive Precursors: Atlantis, Kull's homeland, is a young and barbaric island nation while Valusia and its culture is considered ancient beyond reckoning, extending back to the very dawn of Man as a free, non-enslaved species.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Screaming Skull of Silence. Kull almost ends the world out of sheer boredom.
  • Shoot the Dog: In "Exile of Atlantis", Kull throws a knife in a girl's heart to spare her from being burned to death.
  • Victory Is Boring: Kull spends most of his time after becoming king in an existential funk, because it's so much more enticing to conquer than to rule.
  • Will Not Tell a Lie: Judging by his behavior, Kull regards liars as scheming weaklings. Real men always tell the truth...and kill all who take offense to it.