Conan and his free company have now been in Ophir for a year. Building a reputation for their stalwart attitudes and ability to get difficult jobs done. During this year Conan has watched as the The King of Ophir, Valdric, has slipped deeper and deeper from his position, giving more and more power to his generals. Not long after the story begins, Valdric dies, and the free companions quickly become involved in a power struggle between the three parties seeking to claim the throne. These claimants are Antimedes, Lady Synelle and Valentius.
Conan comes to the attention of lady Synelle after he purchases a bronze statue of a god whom she wishes to return to life. Believing the statue holds the key to this, she sets about to complicate the Cimmerians life. Along the way she sends bandits, misfits, miscreants, trulls and eventually even Karela the Red Hawk, an erstwhile associate of the barbarian from previous adventures.
Synelle eventually grows wary of toying with the barbarian, and finding that he cares somewhat for Karela, plots to sacrifice her to bring back the dark god. Conan launches an assault on Synelle's mountain fastness and make it to the ceremonial chamber to late. Synelle has managed to raise her dark god, but without sacrificing Karela. Conan engages the demonic entitity and succeeds in destroying it by running it through with a spear. Whatever magics Synelle had used to raise the god, then proceeds to make it's fate her own and both are turned to stone. With the destruction of Synelle and the demon, the mountain fortress begining to crumble around their ears, Conan and Karela make a hasty exit.
While Conan has been sidelined dealing with Synelle, the armies of Valentius have brought him to the very cusp of victory in his quest for the throne, with only a few small skirmishes left before he can safely claim it. Conan sees this as a good opportunity to get out of town, and unable to convince Karela to go with him, bids her farewell. Conan parts ways with his Free Companions and heads south once more towards the sunny land of Argos.
This was a pretty good book all around, It again shows hallmarks of Robert Jordan's writing style, and again reintroduces characters from the other RJ books. This is a nice touch, something which other writers would have been well to do. It makes the Hyborian lands feel as if they are populated by a number of adventures, rather than Conan being the only one. Again the political nature of the book, along with the magical items in this, and especially Lady Synelle, once again reminded me of aspects of Jordan's "The Wheel of Time".
Unlike when I completed the last of the Steve Perry books, and had a celebratory drink to clear my head.. I'm rather sorry that this was the last Robert Jordan I will be reading for quite some time. It also will likely be the last time we see Hordo or Karela, both of whom I'm going to miss as characters. It's also a rather sad time since, now, apart from his few Western's, I've nearly read the man's entire literary output, a paltry 21 or so books. It's a shame as, despite his propensity to wander and get caught up in minutiae.. he was a very inventive writer, and I'm very much looking forward to finally finishing The Wheel of Time when Brandon Sanderson's 3rd completed volume is released early next year.
Up next, Conan the Guardian by Roland J. Green.