Chapters 16 - 18.
After the destruction in the last segment, Conan has set off to investigate the Set Cult. He comes to a village, he recognizes the name of it as the one which Ludya came from, and soon finds the head of the snake too. The boy from the prologue is clearly the one responsible for all the mayhem in the marshes. He acts strangely, partly as a carefree child and partly as a dour general many times his own age. He says nothing but is perpetually flanked by two others.
Conan soon finds Ludya and manages to snap her out of the cult programing laid upon her. Though for the moment it's best they both continue to pretend. She explains to Conan about the child's powers, especially against those who have magic. Clearly something has been sent here to attack and destroy, perhaps something from the darkness to the south. Conan approaches the boy warily, not sure what to expect from him. His natural senses are to treat him as no threat, such a stripling. But something about the child makes the hair stand up on his neck.
After some moments of conversing with the boy, Conan's wariness proves well founded. He isn't a boy, and quickly makes this known by shedding his skin and emerging as a reptoid, Conan, shocked by this reaches back by the fire and grabs the poker. Glowing red hot he strikes the head of this monstrosity again and again until it is still. With the boy dead, something occurs and those who were dead and it had animated quickly began to decompose.. and those under it's spell awoke as if from a daze.
After heading back to Dinadar with Ludya, and finally throwing off the guise of Favian Conan leaves the city. He's tired of Nemedia and aims to set off back to the south.
Ok, so this was not nearly as bad as the previous Carpenter volume "Conan the Outcast". This had a plot, though pretty far fetched even for the Conan pastiches.. seemed to stretch the credibility of what the Barbarian would put up with. However, it does explain a few things away. The book states that Conan spoke some Nemedian, but not much.. it also spends some time teaching him soldiering skills. Skills he will soon be putting into practice. The book also at the end points him back towards the south and east.
Though the William Galen Gray Chronology places "Conan the http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifHunter" much much earlier in the series than this, I feel that it would be very well placed following this book but before 'Rogues in the House'. Hunter features Conan starting out in a town in southern Brythunian known as Pirogia (ugh) and then leaving to go on his adventures in the mountains before heading south again specifically to Shadizar. He talks to a man in Brythunia at one point and they have a discussion about Shadizar. Conan specifically asks the question 'You've Been to Shadizar?" if you place it early in the chronology you can take it as a wide eyed statement of amazement, but if you place it here, it's simply a question. Conan also comes across as quite worldly for his young age in that book.. If you refer back to my review of Hunter you will see the collection of things I made note of way back then.
I feel that the new Chronology should be
"Halls of the Dead"
Conan the Fearless
"God in the Bowl"
Conan the Warlord
Conan the Hunter
"Rogues in the House"
Conan the Victorious
As I've been reading this stories through I've also been working on a new map of the Hyborian world. It's not perfect yet, but I've not read most of the available material. Even once I've finished reading the Conan books I aim to read the other Howard stories that may have been set in the Hyborian world, and probably also the Age of Conan novels. If I aim to be comprehensive I had best be. So I've plotted out the loop I feel Conan has taken on this trip.
Conan's Journey is in Green, until his transportation to the Shemitish desert (This is theoretically a good place for Conan the Outcast to fit. I'm going to have to check on that and see if it causes any problems. I'd prefer it here than where WGG had it anyway.) and then in Blue after he leaves Pirogia for the second time.
The Asterisks and numbers represent this magical transportation from Innisfaln in Conan the Hunter, and his starting point upon his return to Pirogia. Orange are national boundaries and red is the route of the (in the pastiches anyway) Road of Kings.
Rogues in the house therefore could take place in any of the cities along the border between Corinthia and Zamora. For my money, I feel this is the best placement for these stories in the context of an over all arc.
Up Next, "Rogues in the House"