Saturday, March 12, 2011

16. Tor Conan #9, Conan the Fearless by Steve Perry, part 5

Chapters 19-23

Conan laboriously makes his way to the dread castle Slott, it sits upon a craggy outcropping. No doubt this would balk the biggest of armies, but the builders had never encountered a Cimmerian. No mere wall of stone will stall Conan for long, and time is short. So climb he does, quickly, silently, without complaint. His mighty arms pulling him ever higher, and within sight is a cave mouth, so it's what he makes for. Perhaps he can find a way into the castle through the cave.

Inside Sovartus the dark lord is making arrangements to finish his spell casting now that he has the last ingredient. Eldia the fire child. Nothing is standing in his way now. Nothing except the girls sister. It dosen't take long for Sovartus to deal with Kinna, he has some of his minions take her away and drop her in a cave. The very same one that Conan is currently wandering through.

Before to long, Conan comes across Kinna and her captors, though they wear hoods and robes its soon made obvious they are more of the Reptoids which he's dealt with in the mountains on his journeys south and again in the mountains of Zamora. Having fought them on occasions before, Conan knows how to make short work of them. But they succeed at least in delaying him and Kinna from reaching the castle. Long enough anyway for Sovartus to summon a new and more powerful darkness. A Darkness which he commands.

Making their way through throng after throng of Sovartus's lizard henchmen the two adventurers laboriously ascend Castle Slott. They arrive after many swordstrokes and much bloodshed to Sovartus's Tower. While Kinna deals with the rest of the lizardmen, Conan lunges for the dark lord. He's blasted backwards by the darkness like a child's doll. Another tactic will be needed. Instead he goes after the chains holding the four children captive. Without them to fuel the darkness it should dissipate, hopefully?

Sovartus is so engorged on his own power that he pays the barbarian no attention while this happens. unfortunately for him, Conan's hunch was right, remove the fuel and the fire dies. The darkness begins to implode, pulling Sovartus into its sucking maelstrom first, and then beggining to pull the entire castle in as well. Conan and Kinna gather up the four dazed children and make a run for it, hopeing they can gain an exit before they too are pulled in, or the castle around them.

After some time of running, and a fair distance away, Conan calls a halt. Sitting in there way is Vitarius, he had managed to hold off Djuvala long enough and survived. Conan decides against returning with the group to Mornstantadinos, and instead turns westward to continue his journey to Nemedia, maybe to the town of Numalia.


Well, this was not all that bad of a book. It's easily Perry's best out of his 5. And it provides a rather logical explanation for some of the weirdness present in his other books. It's obvious that he basically re-used this books plot for all of his others. All have Conan journeying from one place, to another place, and meeting up with a series of evil wizards, bandits, what have you and being aided by a scrappy girl and a good wizard or priest of some sort. It works here, but would have probably been better not used quite so many times.

I can't really say too much else about it, apart from those few chapters where Conan inexplicably wasted time back in his hotel room rather than riding out to rescue the children seemed as if they were simply added to pad the story out. They more or less didn't fulfill any purpose except that. And even with them the book was short enough they decided to include the L. Sprague DeCamp Essay 'Conan the Indestructible" So it's possible that those chapters were added at the behest of the editor.. who I assume at the time was either Robert or Harriet Jordan. One of whom pads his own stories out till they are bulging like Santa Claus, and the other who edited them and saw no fault in that.

The re-apparent of the reptoids, in yet another Conan Pastiche, indicates that in the realm of the Tor series they definitely exist in substantial numbers. That's not an impossible thing, though improbable. I don't remember them ever cropping up in any of Howard's Conan stories, but their were a reptillian race in the Kull stories. It's not impossible then that these reptoids are some how related to them.. merely fallen into the depths of barbarity and in some cases are just feral.

Up Next is a Robert E. Howard story, The God in the Bowl.

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