The villains of this book, the Yagas, live "in the grim city of Yugga, on the rock Yuthla, by the river Yogh, in the land of Yagg." How can you not love that? That this is repeated at least five times throughout the novel, is wonderful.
I didn't actually read this, per se. My girlfriend read it to me while I was recovering from surgery, but I think that still merits a review.
When you come right down to it, I think I prefer Howard's short stories to this, the first novel of his that I've come across. In the longer form, more of his flaws and prejudices become apparent. On the one hand, you get to see more of his philosophies, which is fun at first, but eventually the whole "civilized people are soft and weak, and barbarians are strong and good" thing gets repetitive. It's fun and interesting when the villains are clearly meant to be a colonial power, of sorts (black skin, sigh, not withstanding) but then more bigotry is shown when, even while they're condemned for having slaves, that same slave race is shown to be dumb, worthless, and utterly deserving to be cut down by the thousands just to get to their masters. One can argue that this is all set on a distant, fictitious planet and therefore bears no connection to earthly bigotry... if one is fucking blind.
That aside, the story is a good and fun male adolescent fantasy of violence, monsters, and crazy world-building. The basic concept is cribbed pretty damn directly from Burroughs' Mars books, and the world created does not feel quite as real as that one, but is fun and mysterious nonetheless. The hero is suitably bad-ass--in fact, the way he's set up at the beginning is one of my favorite things about the book--and he gets to fight flying men, ape-men, dog-headed, uh, men, and a giant tentacled electric fire slug... thingy. It's all great fun. That the creatures he lives amongst have huge, hairy, ape-like men and women that look just like dainty little earth-women is so silly that it actually didn't bother me much: just part of the ridiculous fun of an old story of this type. (I wouldn't accept that as easily from a current author though.)
All in all it's an enjoyable, quick read. An awful lot happens in 155 pages, but I wouldn't really have wanted it to go on much longer. Good, but I'd say that Howard's Conan short stories are better.