Almuric - Robert E. Howard, Joe R. Lansdale, Andrew Hou I'm being generous in my rating. Really, the book doesn't deserve more than a 1.5, a 1.75 at most. I don't think I could have finished it if it had been much longer than the 100 or so pages in my edition (I downloaded it from Amazon's Kindle Store but I can't stand not having a book cover so I'm archiving it under this edition).

Almuric is about a character, the Earthman Esau Cairn, and a setting that obviously didn't inspire Howard much, though the theme of "barbarism" being infinitely superior to "civilization" you find in the Kull and Conan stories is omnipresent. A good example being found early in the book: "My being grew and expanded. I tell you, the natural life of mankind is a grim battle for existence against the forces of nature, and any other form of life is artificial and without realistic meaning."

There's no real set up for Cairn's ensuing adventures on the planet of Almuric. He's running from the law and stumbles across the laboratory of a man who's able to transport him to Almuric, where he finds a culture amenable to his disposition. For Cairn is an atavar - a caveman born 20,000 years too late. The "good life" for him is carousing, fighting & doing manly things with other manly men. And the Guras fit that bill; they are skilled in "war, the hunt, and weapon-making" and "know nothing of painting, sculpturing, or the 'higher' learning."

And then there are the Gura women:

As the men assume all risks and responsibility, they naturally assume all authority....

Yet her lot [woman's] is not so unhappy as it might seem....

The duties of the Gura women are few, concerned mainly with child-bearing and child-rearing [written by a life-long bachelor]. They do no work heavier than the manufacturing of silk.... They are witty, merry, affectionate, playful and docile...and they are content in the protection of their ferocious mates and masters.

I don't need to spend much more time excoriating the many deficiencies of Almuric. When inspired REH could write some of the best fiction in the genre - "Beyond the Black River," "A Witch Shall Be Born," "Queen of the Black Coast," "The Cat and the Skull," etc. - but this is not one of those works.