Spear and Fang. First published in Weird Tales, July 1925. After years of rejection slips, Howard finally sold a short caveman tale titled “Spear and Fang”, which netted him the sum of $16 and introduced him to the readers of a struggling pulp called Weird Tales. Spear and Fang is a story of the conflict between Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals.

In a letter (#166) to Farnsworth Wright, circa June-July 1931 Howard writes:

You gave me my start in the racket by buying my first story — “Spear and Fang.” I was eighteen years old at the time. Pounding out a decent living at the writing game is no snap — but the average man’s life is no snap, whatever he does.

Listen to the story

The story / summary

“Spear and Fang” is a tale set in the prehistoric era, highlighting the raw essence of human and animalistic natures entwined with themes of love, bravery, and survival against the backdrop of a world filled with danger and the unknown. The story unfolds with A-aea, a young woman of the Cro-Magnon race, who is captivated not only by the artistic endeavor of Ga-nor but also by the man himself as he sketches a mammoth on the cave wall. Their world is one where the burgeoning of art, the complexities of social customs, and the elemental struggle for existence coalesce.

The narrative quickly takes a darker turn with the introduction of the Neandertal man or gur-na, a creature of a bygone age, representing the primal fear lurking in the depths of the forest, a remnant of a time when these beast-men dominated the landscape. The Cro-Magnon people, despite their advancements, live in a constant state of vigilance against these remnants of their evolutionary past.

As A-aea’s curiosity leads her closer to Ga-nor, she inadvertently becomes embroiled in a life-threatening situation when Ka-nanu, a brash and imposing suitor, attempts to take her by force, only for both to encounter the terrifying reality of the gur-na. Ka-nanu, despite his initial intentions, shows a momentary courage before being brutally killed by the Neandertal man, who then captures A-aea.

Ga-nor, driven by a newfound purpose beyond his art, follows their trail, showcasing the evolution of human emotion and the concept of individual heroism. His battle with the Neandertal man is not just a fight for A-aea’s life but a symbolic clash between two eras of human existence. Ga-nor’s victory is a testament to the Cro-Magnon’s superiority not just in strength but in intelligence and adaptability.

The story concludes with Ga-nor and A-aea’s union, a poignant end that reinforces the narrative’s underlying themes of love, evolution, and the triumph of the human spirit.


  • A-aea: The protagonist’s love interest, a young Cro-Magnon woman who admires Ga-nor from afar and is eventually captured by a Neandertal man but rescued by Ga-nor.
  • Ga-nor: The main male character, a Cro-Magnon man whose artistic pursuits catch A-aea’s attention. He becomes her rescuer and mate, showcasing courage and intelligence.
  • Neandertal man (gur-na): The antagonist, a remnant of a more primitive human species who captures A-aea, representing the primal threat to the Cro-Magnon people.
  • Ka-nanu: A suitor of A-aea, son of a councilor, who initially tries to abduct A-aea but is killed by the Neandertal man. His character adds complexity to the social dynamics within the Cro-Magnon community.

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