Chapters 20-21 and review.
Having been previously left standing on the stoop, Conan and Khailash find the door to be unlocked. Cautiously probing their way into the entrance of the fortress, they find the missile which Conan felled Lamici with and they use it as a wedge to keep the door open. The pair is accosted by a group of stone gargoyles come to life, and then by the foul priestess herself.
She taunts Khailash and captures him in a side chamber, intent on torturing him over several days. The Gargoyles from previously return this time to menace Azora instead of the hillman.
Conan is left to face Skauraul mano-a-demon, but dosen't seem too put out by this. His enemy defeated, his friend Khailash presumed dead, Conan leaves the fortress just as it begins to crumble.
We are told that Conan remembers little of his journey north from the deserts of Shem, and that he returned to Pirogia once more intent on setting out for Zamora. But first he stops in at the inn the trio had visited, now just the one. He's no more sat down to his first jack of ale when he discovers that his presumed dead Kezankian had made it there before him. And then the story ends.
If I thought that Conan was out of character in legions of the dead by praying to Crom.. hes certainly a bit out of character in this story. Hes not exactly bumbling or clumsy persay but he definitely comes across as more of an average sort of guy rather than the Super heroic Conan that is featured in some of the other stories.
The book started out ok, when it was more or less simply a story of political intrigue and a priestess determined to regain lost power for her cult, but towards the middle point of the book it seems as if the author decided to just start making it up as he went along, That leads to an odd layout. The Book seems to be 200 pages of build up with the climax taking place over just 3 or 4 pages. Highly anticlimactic if you ask me.
My Biggest problem with this book wasn't the book itself but rather its placement in this chronology. Conan is awfully knowledgeable about lands he has not visited yet according to this chronology, Even citing specific Geography of Zamora and locations further south. considering that in this chronology he has only been free from his Hyperborean captivity for a few months this all seems highly unlikely. The Other main thing is that for some reason the author decided seemingly spuriously to have the climax of the Book take place a thousand miles south of Brythunia in the deserts of Shem. Which quite frankly is ridiculous.
The Previous book, "Conan the Defiant" was a direct sequel to "The Thing in the Crypt" from the Sword to the rotting wolf pelts to the direction he was headed. The action of it and the three books which Steve Perry wrote to follow it up form something of a Tetralogy of works detailing what happened to Conan between his escape from the Hyperboreans and his winding up in Zamora for "Tower of the Elephant". And this book really dosen't seem to fit in that time span.
I feel that the knowledge exhibited by Conan, the fact that in Defiant he has decided to head south with Elashi and her absence in this story.. we are dealing with a Conan from later in his career. I will be looking for a better place to put this novel as I work my way through the rest of the works.
Location - The Town of Pirogia in the Nation of Brythunia Somewhere in the foothills of the Kezankian Mountains. And the deserts of Shem.
Characters - Conan, Yvanna, Salvorus-Captain of the gaurds, Hassem the Zamoran, Brythunian General Valatresca, King Eldram, Lamici, Madesus the Healer, Khailash the Kezankian, Kaletos, Azora the evil priestess and Sharkuel the Demonlord.
Languages known - Cimmerian, Aesir, Brythunian, Zamoran
I Unfortunately have to give this book * out of *****.. Its not badly written, its simply badly plotted and was very jarring when read after Defiant.
Up Next is Conan The Indomitable by Steve Perry.