The battle against the Vanir and their lizardmen allies has begun in earnest. So far did Conan's call for arms go that even a band of Aesir made the journey to answer it. Perhaps after this battle is over, They ask if he will go raiding with them again. While the bulk of the army fights outside, Conan and the Khitain wizard make their way back into the mountain to the central room. There Conan completes his mission and brings Hathor-Ka all the way from Stygia.
With the help of the Khitain, Conan slays the Vendhyans. As the Cimmerians are mopping up the forces outside, they free a few more captives. Hathor-Ka's trust in Toth amon seems to be poorly placed, as her own summon ritual begins to fail. Soon the caverns below Ben Morgh begin collapsing and Conan and the Khitain wizard make their way outside. Crom's home is now purified from the taint of southern sourcery. Conan's mission is done.
Declining the offers of his family to stay the winter with them, Conan opts instead of journey onwards with the Aesir instead. Their good cheer, song and strong drink are more to his liking now. Cimmeria is home, will always be home.. but his feet have started to itch once more.
Okay, this was the first John Maddox Roberts Conan that I've read so far. I had intended to start with Conan the bold, which chronologically would be the very first story. But at the time I didn't have either that or Conan of Venarium. No great loss on Venarium, but I kind of regret not waiting now for a copy of Bold.
Outside of REH himself, John Maddox Roberts writes what has to be by far the best Conan story I've read in quite a while. I'm really looking forward to reading another. The nicest thing about this volume though is that it wasn't padded. It felt more like a trilogy of interconnected short stories. The bit in Koth and Nemedia, then the Border Kingdoms and finally Cimmeria. It also sets up "The Frost Giant's Daughter" quite nicely.
It also re-introduced Thoth Amon, who we haven't seen for quite a long time. Still up his sorcerous tricks, but this time we get some vague inkling of just how powerful he truly is. Thankfully though there seems to be a rival, perhaps more Benign, but certainly far less malignant branch of sorcery in the east which can oppose his plans. I suppose we will see in the coming adventures!
Up next, I'm going to put up my review of the new Conan The Barbarian film, and then rather than jumping back in and reading 'The Frost Giant's Daughter' I'm going to go back to the very beginning and read Conan the Bold by John Maddox Roberts.