Sunday, April 24, 2011

Conan The Adventurer, Episode 4 / 22

From Hyborean Apocrypha

Episode 4, Heir Apparent.

Having escaped from the lair of the beastmen, Vulkar, Otli, Zzeben and Conan are still heading south, they've crossed the mountains and are now following the coast. They are hanging out in a fishing village, not having any luck, news comes to them that Hissah Zhul has created a one eyed monster who eats all the fish. So naturally, Conan and the crew agree to help. Vulkar is also planning to leave the group soon and return to his homeland.

Meanwhile there are intrigues afoot in Hissah Zhul's Palace. he plans to have the Wizard Acktel deal with the Barbarian. Also One of his serving girls is conspiring with Acktel for some purposes. She is having her assistant Tambal taken from her and is displeased. Acktel leaves the palace to ride to the coast and meet with Conan. He claims that he works for a Queen Vitta, and that he merely serves her. The two part ways each distrusting the other's motives for dealing with the one eye'd monster.

We find out what is the special purpose of Tambal. Acktel plans to sacrifice her to appease the monster. Conan fights his way towards the girl but is too late to stop Acktel from summoning a (very poorly rendered) Cthuhloid monstrosity from the deeps. He manages to save the girl though, and the pieces fall into place that Acktel is working with Hissah Zhul (this would have been better had the audience not found this out already).

They take the girl and head inland looking for the Queen, who apparently hasn't been seen in a long time. Hissah Zhul has put a curse on her so she cannot leave a magical realm or act on her people's behalf. They inform her that her protege Acktel is working for Zhul. So she agrees to help them while they are in her realm. She takes them to a room filled with magical weapons to aid them in their quest to slay Acktel and defeat Hissah Zhul. She decides to leave with them, even though by breaking Hissah Zhul's enchantment it will cause her to slowly wither. This is reported back to Hissah Zhul by the Skull that talks.

Conan and the group begin their attack on Hissah Zhul's forces in Queen Vitta's Land. This is done to buy her some time to get the fish back. While the battle rages the queen begins to age visibly. Acktel intercedes at the last moment and attacks the Queen and summons the sea monster again. Conan throws Acktel to the monster and then fends it off. Acktel dead, Conan takes the queen back to her enchanted realm. On their way they are ambushed, and the queen slain. But not before she reveals that Tambal is her daughter so the royal line will be continued.

With a new Queen wielding the magic staff in the land, the fish returned, Adventure Over, Vulkar departs the group and returns to his village while the rest carry on their fight against Hissah Zhul.

- This episode is actually #22 based on its original airdate. However, chronologically it's the last episode with Vulkar and is set before the introduction of a new character. So the DVD corrects this flaw and puts it following #3, Lair of the Beastmen.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

19. Ace Conan #1.5, 'Rogues in the House' by Robert E. Howard.

From Hyborean Apocrypha

Having decided He didn't quite fancy sticking around in the western Hyborian nations Conan has headed south again. we pick up his trail in an unnamed border city somewhere on the Corinthian-Zamoran Border. Conan's pretty easy to find, he's doing time. Killed a lying scumbag of a priest/fence (aren't they all?) who along with a prostitute ratted him out to the cops.

But local weenie Murillo has a job for the doughty Cimmerian. He wants a man named Nabonidas bumped off, and thinks Conan can do the job. The reward will be a bag of coin and a fast horse to get him over the Zamoran Border. He also wants dinner. Conan escapes, gets his revenge on the trull by tossing her into a cesspit and goes on his way to see the man he's been paid to kill.

Conan arrives to find things are not as expected. Murillo is here for some reason, and is in a prison cell with Nabonidas. A third party's machinations are at work. The three agree to work together to escape, they then make their way through the mansion. They discover the interloper is none other than Nabonidas's semi-intelligent simian pet. Thak the ape-man.

Conan fights the ape man and barely manages to defeat him, and grappling with the idea that he didn't fight an animal but a man. Nabonidas is not perhaps a noble as Thak as he turns on Murillo and Conan. This leaves no choice but for Conan to follow through with the original bargain and kill Nabonidas after all. The two remaining men, Murillo and Conan leave the villa and head their separate ways.

Review -


What else is there to say about Rogues? This is a fantastic tale. It has some of the most memorable aspects connected with the Conan character. Namely clubbing the guard with a beef bone. The fight with Thak, and Conan's feelings afterwards are interesting and show an insight into the character. This tale along with 'Tower of the Elephant' and 'God in the Bowl' really do a lot to establish just what sort of man the Cimmerian is. It's really no surprise the Conan reprints did as well as they did. Say what you will about 'The Thing in the Crypt'.. but the whole book has been jam packed with good stories so far. The weakest being the 'Halls of the Dead'.. coincidentally the one that LsDC "Co-wrote".

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Placement issues and a first draft of a new Chronlogy

Ok, so I remarked in my review of Conan the Warlord that I felt I had in my grasp a slightly tighter placement of several of the Pastiches.

I wasn't sure at the time if Conan the Outcast could fit into that gap between Conan's transportation to the Shan-e-Sorkh Desert towards the end of Conan the Hunter or not. I went back and looked at it, and I feel thats a perfect place for it. Nestled between Chapters 20 and 21 of Conan the Hunter. However, if you don't put Conan the hunter in the new placement I've got it in, it won't work.

See, in Conan the Outcast, Conan specifically mentions he's heading north to return to Shadizar. on the surface that may not make a lot of sense. But if we look at it that Conan is "Returning to Shadizar" from the time that "Conan the Warlord" is over.. and view Conan the Hunter as a sidetrip.. which it obviously would have been.. then it still works. He simply heads north, goes to Pirogia where he left off and swings east to go back to Zamora.

I'm personally a lot happier having it in this placement, much as I hate it when you shove a book between chapters of another book (I'm looking at you Conan the Rebel) but in this case it works. Conan the Outcast didn't feel right where it was. For one thing theres no explination given why Conan would be way the hell off in the western deserts of Shem in the first place when the last time we saw him he was living it up with the Shanki and reveling in the downfall of the Satrap of Zhamboula at the end of Sword of Skelos. He was hundreds of miles away in the middle of no where during Outcast. But he was right in the perfect place to be returning north from the Shan-e-Sorkh.

So here goes. my first real attempt to take what I've learned so far in the books and put them into a new order. I'm not expecting anyone else to pay my ramblings any attention.. but I like to think I'm trying to be as critical and specific in my deductions as possible. and if you have read these and can point out any thing I've missed or forgotten I would appreciate you pointing them out.

1) Conan the Bold, Conan leaves it to fate to decide his direction at the end. Clearly the reader can infer any direction, I'm inferring north because it's useful to my platform. It also gives a convenient out for any oddities in his knowledge later.

2) "The Frost Giant's Daughter", this is a really tricky one.. but I feel the Conan in it is a young man and is likely still sporting oddments of stuff he looted from Venarium. I like the reasoning put forth on the Conan forum that had it been later in his life.. and he had spent considerable time with the Aesir.. he likely would have known of Atli.

3) "Legions of the Dead" Obvious a very early one, still with the Aesir. Direct Prequel to...

4) "The Thing in the Crypt" Conan makes his escape from the Hyperboreans and heads south.

5) Conan the Defiant, Picks up basically exactly where 'The Thing in the Crypt Leaves off. Conan meets up with a group of people and continues to head south with them in...

6)Conan the Indomitable, By the end of this he's on his own but still heading south.

7) Conan the Free-lance, and Conan the Formidable, Still heading south and east on a rambling pace. Eventually makes it to Shadizar at the end of Formidable.

8) Conan the Magnificent. This features a Conan who seems to be a bit unfamiliar with the ins and outs of society in Shadizar. he's just getting started as a thief. and manages to make some important people angry in the story. Explaining why he is in Arenjun in...

9) "The Tower of the Elephant" where he encounters an extraterrestrial beast and slays the Wizard Yara. which is mentioned several times in the coming stories. First encounter with Nestor the Gunderman.

10) Conan, And the Sorceror, Still in Arenjun, he is set to undertake an errand for another Wizard. He removes a Lich from a gorge in the desert as well and has his first encounter with a Turanian Officer who puts it into his head he should try his hand at soldiering.

11) Conan The Mercenary, Conan journeys to Shadizar to attempt to see the king, this dosen't work so he goes to Khaurun instead where he fulfills his quest. This story also ties into a later one, "A Witch shall be Born".

12) Conan: Sword of Skelos, Conan still cleaning up the last of the messes he's made has another run in with the Turanian captain from earlier and is winds up in Zhamboula

13) Conan the Invincible, Now back in Shadizar, I feel this story is best put here where Robert Jordan had it because it mentions the escapades in the Elephant Tower.

14) "Halls of the Dead" Still in Shadizar, Conan has another encounter with Nestor the Gunderman and eventually decides Shadizar is too hot to stay in and heads west.

15) Conan The Fearless, This pretty closely follows the ending of Halls, Conan is journeying westward to Nemedia.

16) "God in the Bowl" This is one that many chronologies place as the second story, But I think theres nothing wrong with it being here.

17) Conan the Warlord, Obviously has to take place following "bowl". Conan heads to northern Nemedia, and at the end decides to head back to Zamora.

18) Conan the Hunter, Chapters 1-20 Half way back to Zamora he makes the mistake of stopping for a bite and a sup in a tavern in Brythunia and gets drafted into a quest to save the world, this ends with him being transported a thousand miles south into the middle of a desert.

19) Conan the Outcast, during this long and very boring novel, Conan is looking for a Caravan to join on his way north.

20) Conan the Hunter, Chapter 21, After a "Long and very boring" trip north Conan finally returns to Pirogia before continuing on his way to Shadizar through Brythunia and then Corinthia.

21) "Rogues in the House" Conan has an encounter with courtly Politics on the border between Corinthia and Zamora.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Conan The Adventurer, Episode 3

From Hyborean Apocrypha

Episode 3, Lair of the Beastmen

We find Conan and his merry men, Zzeben, Vulkar and Otli are still following the the directions of the Sword of Atlantis. It's been leading them toward the mountains for days, some one is in trouble (Whats that Lassy? Little Timmy is down the well?!). There is plenty of bickering among the troops, a cute reference to Lord of the Rings "Why do we have to go over the mountain? why can't we just go around!" from the Dwarf Otli. Vulkar informs Conan that Otli is simply afraid of the legends of the beastmen.. and no more has finished relaying the tale than the band is beset by some sketchy looking guys in party store helmets and are being forced off their path, So in lieu of the road, Conan leaves the party to shelter in a cave while he tries to find another path over the mountain.

Zzeben and Conan set off on their climb, before long, they find a cave and go in. Inside is a woman who beckons to Conan but before he can go to her, a horde of beastmen attacks him. Zzeben manages to escape and go back and get Vulkar, they leave Otli behind in case Conan returns. Which is unlikely to happen as some beastmen (Orcs) have him taken prisoner and trussed up. The two who are tasked with keeping tabs on him remark how strong and manly he looks.. and that perhaps the outside world isn't as they've been told. But lament how they will never know, as Hissar Zhul has deemed them unworthy of leaving their lair.

Vulkar and Zzeben return to the site of the ambush, and retrieve Conan's sword. They presume from this that Conan is dead, and return to Otli to tell him the news. Conan is now a slave of the beastmen, made to perform manual labour until he dies. He attempts to stir the other slaves to rebel, but they alas are too indoctrinated to listen. He however vows to escape. An escape would not come too soon, as Hissar Zhul is being informed of his plight and is making plans to deal with Conan, but like any self assured dark lord, is at the moment content to watch Conan waste away in the slave mines.

Conan's first attempt at escape is thwarted by the other slaves, so he will have to try again. In the meanwhile he learns that Hissar Zhul is having the beastmen and their slaves mine a special ore, from which they are building magical weapons to arm the beastmen armies so that they might conquer the world. After learning this, Conan is found out by the beastmen and escapes down another tunnel. He's equipped with only a small knife when he is beset upon by a huge beast.

Meanwhile, Otli who dosen't believe Conan is dead and sets off to find him on his own. He's taken the sword of Atlantis with him, and after a few adventurers of his own manages to find Conan in the midst of battling the rancor like animal. He throws him the Sword and Conan uses it to slay the beast, the two adventurers then spur the slaves to rebellion and escape back to the surface and return to where Otli left Zzben and Volkar sleeping. The party reunited, they set off once more on their adventures.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

18. Tor Conan #15, Conan the Warlord by Leonard Carpenter, part 5

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.

Review ~

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" 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"