Thursday, June 23, 2011
22. Ace Conan #1.6 "The Hand of Nergal" by Robert E. Howard and Lin Carter
Conan has finally accepted the offers of the pestering recruiting sergeants and signed into the service of Turan. At the start of this story, we find that that may have been a small miscalculation on the barbarians part. He is currently camped along with the other forces of General Bakra of Akif. While setting up his bed roll in camp, he comes across a golden amulet of some sort and puts it in his pouch.
Tomorrow he will be fighting in a battle between the forces of King Yildiz and a rebel satrap, Munthassem Khan. The Battle is raging when a sudden darkness sweeps over the field. Conan looks up to see horrific bat like creatures descend upon the arrayed forces, they ignore the forces of Munthassem Khan destroying only the forces of General Bakra. As the Bats sweep down soldiers flee in every direction. Conan left alone swears and grits his teeth to steel himself against the darkness. One of the creatures sweeps down upon him, and just as the end is closing in he is overcome with the sudden urgency to bring out the amulet he found. Upon doing so the creature recoils and flees. Exhaustion overtakes him and Conan collapses.
The next day Conan awakes among the ruin of the battlefield, straggling through the bodies he comes across a girl named Hidilco, who has come looking for him. Her master, the Sorcerer Atalis has sent her, and bids Conan return with her. So the two journey to Yaralet. Upon arriving at Hidilco's master's house, he regales Conan of how Munthassem Khan found something from Stygia. The something was the hand of Nergal. With it he became a madman. Further, the key to defeating Munthassem and the Hand of Nergal is the amulet which Conan found. The heart of Tammuz.
Atalis, Hidilco and Conan set off to the Khan's palace. They make their way inside to the throne room and find the Khan. It's soon a battle of Magical talismans and brawn. Conan and the Heart of Tammuz against Munthassem Khan and the Hand of Nergal. The confrontation climaxes with the Heart overriding the hand and pure energy overwhelming flesh. After the flash, nothing remains of Munthassem Khan but ashes, and both the heart and hand have evaporated entirely.
Nothing is left for Conan but to return to the army.
Well this is another of the Posthumous collaborations, an exceptionally rare one in that it's the only completion which Lin Carter worked on exclusively. It's not a bad story, with fairly competent writing. It would of course have been far more interesting had Robert E. Howard have finished it himself.
Up next "The City of Skulls"