Friday, July 20, 2012

35. Tor Conan #2, Conan the Defender by Robert Jordan

In this tale, we find Conan once more in Nemedia, having traveled south out of Brythunia. Still toying with the idea of forming his own Mercenary Free Company, the Cimmerian soon reunites with his friend Hordo, and erstwhile foil Karela (last seen in Conan the invincible), and gets involved with the plotting of some trust fund embryo-socialists. In the course of the story he foils an evil wizard, disrupts the plotting of various nefarious nobility, rescues a damsel or two, drinks copiously, and generally has an all around good time.  At the end of the work Conan finally has his free company, and sets off south for Ophir at the head of his band.

The book itself is a bit dense in terms of political machinations, and might require a few re-reads of certain pages in order to really follow whats going on. This is almost the last of Robert Jordan's Conan pastiches, and as I've said previously, I can easily see how this is the same writer who went on to craft the massive (and at times massively confusing) Wheel of Time series. There are ideas and scenes, both good and bad, littered through out these books which were either re-purposed, reused or simply rough drafts for the later work.

Chronologically the book served the purpose of moving Conan from point A, to point B. It had clear chronological connections to  previous works, and goes to some effort to start setting up "Queen of the Black Coast". I feel that it's location here is well founded and I can't see any major problems with it. Whats more, it begins hinting at how precariously balanced the power structure in Nemedia truly is, something which will pay off handsomely by the time you get to "The Hour of the Dragon". Any time a Pastiche writer actually includes information which adds, rather than ignores, to aspects of Robert E. Howard's original stories tends to work out well. After all, that is supposed to be the entire point of these pastiches, to fill in gaps and add to the original authors work, not simply to churn out drek for people who are too afraid to try something new.

While it is a bit political in nature, these scenes rarely slow down the story telling. You can tell that, this being only the second of the Tor pastiches, and consequently only the 2nd Conan book which Jordan had written.. that he was still some what getting the hang of the character, and perhaps still unintentionally basing him more off the Conan of the John Milius film than on the Conan of Robert E. Howard. All in all though, I enjoyed the book and read it at an almost break neck pace (considering my some what lackadaisical attitude towards reviews lately, for which I apologize). If you want a good Conan story, you can't really go wrong with this one.

Up Next is Conan the Triumphant, which is the last Robert Jordan novel I will be reviewing for a very long time, as the only remaining one is his novelization of Conan the Destroyer.. which seeing as it does not fit into the Chronology as presented by William Galen Grey.. I won't be reviewing till the very end of this project.

On a complete aside, I've also just found out that some one has been citing my reviews on the Wikipedia entries for these books.. I'm not sure if I'm flattered by this or not, as it makes me feel as if some one is trying to portray me as something I'm not, an expert.  Really I'm just a fan, and am trying to provide brief reviews and a bit of humor along the way while I read through this massive stack of books.


Tex said...

" makes me feel as if some one is trying to portray me as something I'm not, an expert."

Face it, Bro--while the books have been reviewed all over the place before, this site is the only place where the whole shebang's getting covered under one easily-accessible roof.

(this gives ya permission to thumb yer nose at the clangers even more)

Lagomorph Rex said...

Yeah I guess.. I'm kind of surprised whoever did it, didn't use my review of Michael Stackpole's movie adaption too.

Lagomorph Rex said...

Oh another neat thing is, we've now hit the 1/3rd part and will very shortly be getting back into REH territory with Queen of the Black Coast.. I can't wait!

Charles R. Rutledge said...

I had noted some similar foreshadowing of Wheel of Time in Conan the Magnificent, so glad to see someone else is thinking along the same lines. Overall I enjoyed Jordan's Conan pastiches.