Saturday, August 6, 2011

28. Bantam Conan # 5, Conan and the Spider-god by L. Sprague DeCamp, part 3

Conan continues to mess about in Yezud for a while longer, spending more and more time with his inherited Apprentice's family. Especially more time with the boys sister. At one point Conan even contemplates whether it is time to settle down(!). That brief idea of domestic bliss flies away, and Conan instead concentrates on figuring out how to steel the Eyes of Zath and uncover what he can about the kidnapped princess.

After several more days, Conan finally succeeds in locating the missing princesses room. He also now has a plan on how to steal the gemstones, and make his escape from Yezud. Though many, including the King of Zamora are after him, he feels the safest bet will be to head south to Shadizar, and from there west back into lands where he is less well known. Setting out at night and having estimated the distance to her window, throws his grapnel and rope. He soon comes to her window, keeping introductions short, escorts her back to the Turanian ambassador. The pair leave with the promise to try and sort out Conan's problems at court. That deed done, Conan retires to his blacksmiths shop for some much needed rest.

The following day, the priests are busy making inquiries about the escaped girl. They question Conan but cannot connect him to the deed. With time limited Conan puts his plan to steal the eyes of Zath into action. Inside of 2 days he has everything he needs to raid the temple. When night falls he slips inside quietly, using the magical lock-pick device to get into the main chamber. He soon finds that the temple is guarded by more than just spear wielding Brythunians. A determined clicking sound on the cold tiles alerts him to the presence of something much larger, with a great many more legs.

He wheels around, and finds himself face to face with a gigantic hairy spider. He attempts to fight it, but it' keeps dodging his blows. It grows annoyed with him, and departs to go back to its hiding place. Conan follows it, picking up a torch along his way. He finds the horror in its nest surrounded by many of its children, both hatched and eggs. He breaks open the oil pipe which feeds the censures in the main temple, and oil pours into the spider filled chamber. When a sufficient amount is on the ground, Conan throws his torch. Thus ends the Children of Zath.

As the fire consumes the temple, Conan thinks wistfully of the surely ruined gemstones. No matter, he's alive and thats what counts. He goes back to the blacksmiths shop and gets his gear, and saddles his horse and sets out to get as far away from Yezud as he can. Back to Shadizar, and on to further adventures.

~ Review.

What can I really say about this.. It's pretty bad for one. I mean, It's not Steve Perry Bad.. but it's not really even up to DeCamp's normal standards. I've always heard it rumoured that his wife co-wrote this one. That would be the genesis of the domestic longings of the barbarian. Nothing more than a bit of holdover prudery. I really didn't bother to summarize most of that as it's painfully tacked on and does nothing to serve the story at all. Conan acts nearly completely out of character during this entire book. Like most of DeCamp's pastiches it really is just a very mediocre book.

It's interesting that we are now coming back around full circle, since we first were introduced to the cult of Zath way back in Conan the Defiant. Conan's hesitance to go back to Shadizar also shows a bit of depth considering just how many nefarious things he's gotten up to in Zamora over the last 27 stories.

Up next, "The Blood-Stained God"

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