Thursday, February 25, 2010

4. Tor Conan #31, Conan the Hunter, Part 1

From Hyborean Apocrypha

Conan the Hunter by Sean A. Moore. Part 1


The book opens with a very brief prologue in which We are shown whats left of a girl. The aftermath of a ritual sacrifice, performed by Azora the High Priestess. Who's goal is soon made clear, to be as powerful as the greatest Sorceress's of the Thurian Age.

Chapters 1-4

Still Stuck in Brythunia and still brandishing the Sword acquired in "The Thing in the Crypt" and the clothes acquired in "Conan the Defiant". We find Conan drinking and dicing in a Tavern known as the Pommel. He is approached by a Zamoran thief with a job offer. Having accepted he goes to gamble a bit. The Zamoran soon returns with the promised payment and the item pertaining to the job, Followed soon after by the City Guard. The Zamoran has set Conan up as the fall man, and turned him into the guard. The charge leveled is the theft of a bracelet belonging to a Princess. In the ensuing struggle Conan suffers a broken wrist. But makes good his escape after bludgeoning the Salvorus, the Guard captain senseless. He makes his way to his current doxy, Yvanna's dwelling where she hides him and then goes to find a healer to set his broken wrist.

Salvorus is berated by General Valatresca for allowing one Barbarian to escape him. He has a visit from Lamici, one of the King's minions, and expresses doubt that Conan is guilty based on Hassem's character. The visitor promises to find out the truth of the matter from Hassem, by any means. But Lamici has other plans as well, Usurping Eldram and replacing him with Valtresca. How he goes about this brings us back to the Preistess Azora. The Girl from the prologue was the Princess, Lamici
took the bracelet and gave it to Haseem to give to a likely fall man, Hassem sold it to Conan and that about brings us up to speed.

Conan awakes to the sound of a door opening, entering through the door is Madesus the Healer. Yvanna brought him to set Conan's wrist. In return for this service the healer requests a donation to the temple of Mitra, Conan finds his purse gone
so instead unwraps the Bracelet and is astonished by the priests reaction to it. Madesus intimates that the bracelet hints at the return of an ancient evil and that Hassem must be found at once.

Heading toward the palace after the healers declaration, Conan has another run in with the city guards. A brawl erupts and Conan begins dispatching the guardsmen, but one had run to get help which soon begins arriving. Conan breaks down the door to a warehouse, He lobs a few barrels of wine at the guardsmen and then disappears into the Pirogian sewers via a hidden trap door.

We are party to a bit of soul searching by King Eldran who laments the loss of his daughter, The Princess Elspeth. And contemplates deferring Kingship to General Valatresca, if only to assure the security of his people. After a few words with
his friend Khailash, Lamici enters and stirs the pot a bit in regards Conan and Salvorus's failure to capture him. That
evening King Eldran suffers a bout of pains and has a dream which features a dark haired barbarian and a gaping black maw'd sorceress, and Khailash fears that the King has been poisoned to his death.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

3. Tor Conan #13, Conan the Defiant, Part 5

chapters 20-23 and review

This is the final part of my synopsis and review of Conan the Defiant.

Our heroes are still journeying through the in-between world to reach the castle, we have a kill-us-both-spock moment with an illusory Conan. Elashi tricks Clo-nan and the real article clouts him a blow knocking him unconscious and the pair continue on their way. Neg's zombie army begins his conquest of the Hyborian world, and Conan and Elashi meet up with Tuanne and Skeer, momentarily breaking Neg's Control with Salt Water. This unlikely alliance heads off to find the Talisman and defeat neg before his plans of conquest are fulfilled.

This respite is short, Neg quickly figures out that Skeer is helping Conan and where Tuanne is hiding. Finding and torturing her for information. He also re-asserts his control over Skeer, forcing him to abandon the Barbarian and his search for the talisman. He does give Conan directions to the item however before he leaves to attend to Neg.

Finding the Talisman, Neg's power begins to wane. He seeks to know whats happened to it, and the Meeting between Neg and Conan comes quickly after, Neg dispatches Skeer for his treachery and steals his soul.. The Agitated spiders who had been following Skeer around decide that.. since that soul was their goal.. they will attack neg. This distraction gives Conan the opportunity to dispatch the necromancer. Thus ends the threat to the Hyborian world of one of many magical annoyances.

Elashi, Tuanne and Conan then set about reversing the damage Neg had wrought. Freeing all of the animated dead from their servitude and returning them to the shadow realms of death. The story then ends with Conan and Elashi embarking on his much delayed journey south to Zamora, all ready for his Next Adventure.

Review -

This book was an odd one, It was the second of Steve Perry's Conan stories, so I can't really give it much of a pass for him not knowing what he was working with. Had it been his first effort, I'd have been more forgiving. I know that Steve Perry isn't the most well regarded of the Conan writers and I see why now. There is nothing particularly wrong with his writing style, its very light with a good amount of humour in it. The whole bit with the consternated spiders actually did make me chuckle a few times. His really weak spot is his names as I've pointed out in previous posts. Conan being presented as a necrophiliac was just.. bizarre.. and not much else I can say about it.. Its just too silly to make light of. I know people in other reviews have made a point of Conan's ability to speak to everyone in Perry's stories, with seemingly no language gap. That is accurate, he has no problem speaking to anyone even when they are from lands he hasn't visited yet. The only explination I can think of for this is that, Brythunian must be semi-related to another language that he knows. The two seemingly most likely ways of looking at it are 1) If the name is any indication then the people of Brythunia (Brython or Welsh Britain) probably speak a language similar to that of Cimmeria, if not immediately inteligable it probably wouldn't be too hard for some one who is as natural a master of languages as Conan to pick up. 2) Brythunia is the original home of the Ancestors of the Angles and Saxons and there for would probably have had a language very similar to the Aesir.

The story was thankfully lacking DeCamp's Cutesy stuff or Carters attempts at humour. It had humour, but more in the vein of a Terry Gilliam cartoon than Decamp and Carters sort of.. "I dare say old chum isn't that odd now" sort of laughs. If it wasn't for the language and sexual overtones I'd say this would have been a pretty darn good Conan Young Adult Novel.

All in all it wasn't a bad story, but it wasn't a great Conan story. Certainly a way to make the L.Sprague DeCamp and Lin Carter stories look better by Comparison is to read one of Steve Perry's.

I give it ** out of *****

Locations: The Brythunian slopes of the Graskill and Karpash Mountains
Towns, cities and other places: Okothard, The Temple which will not fall, Neg's Castle
Characters: Conan (age about 15), Cengh the Messenger, Monks of the TWWNF, Elashi, Tuanne, Neg the Malific, Skeer the footpad, The Swordmaster, Malo the Swordmasters Apprentice, The Disguise Master, Brute the brute, Port, Starboard.
Languages Spoken: Cimmerian, Aesir, Brythunian.

Next is " Conan the Hunter " By Sean A. Moore.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

3. Tor Conan #13, Conan the Defiant, Part 4

chapters 15-19

Starting up where last we left off, our group has billeted themselves at the local in. Conan has gone off to inspect the fortifications of Neg's Castle leaving the pair of girls behind. This leads to trouble as Elashi is kidnapped and Tuanne nearly so. Conan's research goes a bit better, finding that the fortress is well guarded..including some sort of giant fish in the moat.. the remaining two set off to find her and her kidnapper. As mentioned in the last installment, Conan had become a theif.. well it was who he thieved from which has landed him in his current predicament. The one thieved from it seems was a Disguise Master, and Conan saw through his disguise before robbing him.. this was insult to injury and needed to be avenged.

Conan defeats the Disguise Master's equally unimaginatively named fighter " Brute " with similar ease to his fight with Malo earlier.. Brutes dieing words were telling Conan where to find Elashi and he again sets off to reclaim the girl. Apparently Mr. Perry had begun to lose steam at this point in regards to his characters names, as the other two of the Disguise Master's cohorts are named Starboard and Port...Tuanne and Conan dispatch them all and rescue Elashi.. All of this episode has seemed to be totally unnecessary except to establish that Conan can dodge arrows thanks to having seen a traveling circus performer do it once as a child.

Meanwhile, Skeer has completed his task and brought the talisman to Neg.. Neg pours them both a glass of wine before giving Skeer his reward.. though not exactly the reward hoped for. He was such an excellent servant in life, Neg has decided to make him a permanent addition to his servants in Death. He's quickly and against his will, put to work gathering the implements which Neg requires to make use of the Talisman in his unholy activities.. which at the moment is the hair of an Unclean woman and he dutifully tromps off down to the village to collect it.

Skeer is observed on his way to town, Tuanne seeing whats been done to him prevents Conan from attacking him. Judging that if Skeer knows Conan is here, then he will assume Tuanne is as well. Which would allow Neg to reassert his control over her. Instead she performs a magic ritual to open the in-between world, in order to get the group into Neg's Fortress. A fortress now home to the newly Omnipotent Neg.

Catching back up with the Tarantula horde.. if less than a dozen can be truly called a Horde.. they've finally managed to gain entrance to Neg's castle as well. They find their quarry already dead.. such an odd concept no doubt to a Tarantula.. but we as readers get an odd and humorous bit as the result of it. Followed by the frightening prospects of Neg's quickly building undead army.. marching from all the length and breadth of the hyborian world to answer his call. Unfortunately this includes Tuanne, leaving Conan and Elashi alone to finish navigating the magic realm she had opened for them.

Monday, February 15, 2010

3. Tor Conan #13, Conan the Defiant, Part 3

chapters 10-14

Events begin unfolding at a very quick pace in chapter 10, Skeer's cover is blown but he dosen't know hes being followed by the preists of the spider god. It seems a new party is involved in the hunt for the talisman. We are finally treated to the over too soon Zombie Vs Barbarian showdown that was previously hinted, and learn that in addition to his many other skills.. Conan prefers his women with a little fight in them. While the Zombie fight was short, it is almost instantly followed by the Swordmaster hopeing to avenge his pride and the two dead monks on our Barbarian, but with Skeer escaping Conan chooses not to dawdle with Malo the Swordmaster and dispatches him quickly.

Our party now sets off once again on the trail of Skeer, Quickly coming to the conclusion that he's running in circles through the city. Our party of intrepid adventurers is distracted by the shout of a gaurd, the shout generated due to the thousand or so giant spiders hot on the trail of Skeer having just streamed past the poor man. Skeer of course escapes while this is going on. The group still intends to follow him, but they need horses and have no money, out of nescesity, Conan the theif is born. Money in hand, the team purchases horses and all the essentials for travel and depart the city during the night.

The story takes a bit of a skewing turn into the far outfeild, a night out from town and we are treated to a different sort of Barbarian Vs Zombie Action.. apparently Conan likes his women with a bit of fight in the them.. but a pulse isn't a priority.. Following this disturbing interlude the team is again hot on the trail of Skeer the footpad, hoping to find him before the scuttling mass of arachnids do.

Events are coming to a head now, Skeer, Conan and the crew, the Spider horde and the Shambling zombies have all gathered in a town just outside of Neg's Castle. All set for a battle royale I'm sure. Maybe we will find out in part 4 of my review/synopsis of Conan the Defiant.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

3. Tor Conan #13, Conan the Defiant, Part 2

Chapters 5-9

In the prologue we were introduced to the Zombie Girl Tuanne, Neg's Handiwork of course. In the first part of chapter five we are again faced with her. She is journeying along the mountain pass high in the Kezankian mountains heading for a village where some supernatural force is telling her the "Source of light is also heading ". Skeer the footpad is heading towards this same village, pity for him that the living dead are waiting.

Conan and Elashi make it to the village a little while later, we are given a humorous bit where the Innkeeper tries to extort a bribe from the surly barbarian.. gets only a hand on a sword hilt for his efforts. He took the hint and gave Conan the information he wants, That Skeer had followed a woman down the hall to here room some time ago. He was subdued, and Tuanne had nearly completed her mission when Conan and Elashi burst into the room. Conan breifly distracted by the zombie girl and then attacked by a confused Elashi allows both skeer and tuanne to escape.. Tuanne with the "Source of light" and Skeer without a stitch of clothing.

Skeer, running from the village rightly deduces that Neg's name is the Malific.. not the Merciful.. so he had best re-steal the "Source of light" or his own fate will be less than pleasent. But he dosen't know which of his persuers has it.. the Zombie or the Barbarian.. this of course complecates matters for poor Skeer. He decides that if he could be fooled by the undead girl then the Barbarian would be as well. Catching her later that day after having ridden his mount to exhaustion in order to get in front of her, Incapacitating her with sorcery, reclaiming the talisman for himself and his master. The next morning tuanne is found by Conan and Elashi. After some very bad dialogue we learn Tuanne needs the talisman in order to help her die, Conan utters that Neg needs killing, and the three join forces to continue looking for Skeer.

Our heroic trio head towards the four mountains which make up " The Death mask ", and which hide the unseen mystery city of Opkothard. The zombie girl judged it the most likely direction to go, though she doubts Skeer will diverge in order to tour the city. They come upon Skeer's dead horse beside the road, having ridden it hard and suffering a broken leg, he killed it and kept moving on foot.

After communication with Skeer, Neg is furious to find his pet Tuanne escaped and working against him. He vents his frustrations on some of the other less attractive zombies and then dispatches a gaggle of them to hunt down Tuanne for her traitorous ways. Skeer has reached the city of Okothard, only to find the way shut. He hails a city gaurd and requests entrance, noticing some etched spider symbols and deduces the Cities population worships the same spidergod as the denzians of the Zamoran city of Yezud.

The trio enter the city with less questioning, Conan sets a boy to look out for Skeer and then conducts some shrewd business in the local merchants quarter, gaining the unwanted attention of some riffraff. In order to impress upon them he's not an easy target, He re-aranges a local blacksmiths anvil with little difficulty and turns down a job offer shortly after.

Back at the monestary, there was apparently a bit of a misunderstanding, Conan has been blamed for the deaths of the preists and the Swordmaster's student, Malo, has journeyed to find him and bring him to justice. He reaches the city around the same time as Neg's zombie minions. And the practitioners of the spider religion predict a conflagration based on their oracular activities.. one can only assume with a Swordsmaster, a Barbarian, a Footpad and a horde of zombies.. that it will be worth the price of admission at the least.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

3. Tor Conan #13, Conan the Defiant, Part 1

From Hyborean Apocrypha

This being the first novel length review I will be splitting it up. it has 23 chapters and a prologue and in this first part will review the prologue and first 4 chapters

Conan the Defiant - Steve Perry, part 1

prologue -
our story this week starts off with a bit of set up for the villains, they seem to be your standard " necromancer " sort of character, named Neg the Maleific.. He's apparently a Brythunian Scholar with having zombie minions.. I wonder if he's not studied the same books that Vammatar the Cruel, the witch-queen character in "legions of the Dead" had. Geographically I suppose there is a possibility of him having studied with the Hyperboreans but we shall see.

Chapter 1 - 4
We next pick up with Conan just as hes coming out of the mountains following his adventures in the previous story, frequent mentions are made to that and even the scratches he received in that aren't fully healed, at most this is set no more than a few days after "The Thing in the crypt". He hears a commotion and sneaks up on a scene where a stout man with a wooden staff is being attacked by 5 sword wielding opponents.. He dosen't decide to get involved at first but once he sees the stout man pretty effectively fending them off, he goes to his aide.. They fend off the rest of the, we are now informed to be brigands and the man, who turns out to be a monk of some sort, offers to take Conan back to their temple and feed him and supply him with some new clothes, as the Pelts he'd stolen from the crypt are now fully beginning to fall apart and show their age.

Before they make it to the monastery they are attacked by a Stith... which is apparently some sort of Reptilian humanoid, I'd assume they have some relation to the snake-men from the Kull stories but heavily devolved. Again, we shall see as the story progresses.

Not much happens in this period, we learn the Stith are Poisonous and can eject said poison, that the man that Conan rescued, Cengh (I assume pronounced Singh) is a messenger with some urgent tale to tell his betters at the temple. While he does this we are introduced to a footpad named Skeer, who is spying on the temple, and practices some sort of oracular magic using the guts of a stolen goat to accomplish this.. he works for Neg you see, and must stay in touch. Other than that, Conan cleans up, is issued some new clothes and eats and drinks a bunch, and decides he can put off heading to Zamora for a few more days. A brief interlude with a sword master and his Student and a hint at the extensive network of trade in the Hyborian lands.. though why a Vendyhan trader would go all the way to Cimmeria is another matter.. when this interlude is over, its obvious Conan has made himself a new enemy in the form of the sword master's student. throughout these chapters we are also occasionally alerted to the doings of Neg's Zombie girl Tuanne as well. Conan has a run in with a woman masquerading as a priest, who is planning to knife another priest, She is after some stolen bit of property, after this altercation Conan lets her go. following this he watched a fight between two priests, one is stabbed and slumps to the ground and the girl darts after the other one who flees. Conan approaches the wounded man and discovers its Cengh, Cengh relates the story of some magical artifact, "The Source of Light", and how the man who stole it was working for Neg, our necromancer friend, and that should neg get the artifact he will be able to cause untold mischief. Conan resolves to delay his journey to Zamora further in order to get revenge for Cengh.

He has a further run in with the girl, now named Elashi, who we discover is from a nomadic people in the far desert country of Khaurun, and is also after the man who knifed Cengh. She also alerts Conan to the fact that the other man is in fact Skeer, who is working for Neg. Apparently her father found the Source of Light in some ruins recently uncovered by a sandstorm.. he was killed for it and some how the object wound up in the possession of the monks in a Brythunian monastery, and now its on its way to Neg. The two resolve to work together to find Skeer before he gets to make delivery.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

2. Ace Conan #1.1, Conan: The Thing in the Crypt

From Hyborean Apocrypha

The Thing in the Crypt by L. Sprague DeCamp and Lin Carter.

In this installment find our hero newly escaped from Hyperborean slavery, we're told that while others slept, he quietly wore threw one link in his chain in order to break it and escape. Clearly all those people who say Conan isn't a thinking man, haven't read that. He's escaped from the dungeons yes, but not from Hyperborea. He eluded their hounds, sent after him, But not the wolf pack that picked up his scent. Conan is trying to go south over the mountains into Brythunia. And on into Zamora, with its major cities, Shadizar, Arenjun and Yezud..

He reaches the mountains and finds a cave of some sort, journeying in through the cobwebs. A cave? Or more like a Tomb, littered with treasured objects of the dead. A Chariot, and on a throne at the back, sits a giant. Though the narrator stops to ponder of what race this giant belongs, and from whence he came and how long ago.. Conan is rather more pragmatic, his gaze fixes on the sword which lay across the knees of the giant.

Conan takes the sword, after spending a bit of time reflecting on its make. Shocked that its blued iron and not bronze. This is the first real indication of his Fathers profession, which Conan likely would know a good deal about as well.

But all is not what it seems as the mummy lurches slowly upward, seemingly enraged at having its sword stolen. we are treated to a rather lengthy duel between the mummy and Conan. But our protagonist triumphs and after grabbing a few more spoils from the tomb, leaves to continue his march south.

If this scene sounds familiar, its because Oliver Stone incorperated it in his script which was adapted for John Milius's, Conan the Barbarian(1982) Though the skeleton stayed dead in the movie.

The first half of this story, filled with exposition and guesses on the nature of the Hyborian age, and the obvious mechanical fascination involved in wearing down a chain link.. is in my opinion LSDC's contribution.. while the much less interesting second half featuring the battle with the Mummy is Lin Carter's.. He wrote a lot of stories featuring statues and mummys which come to life.

I liked the first half, but not the second particularly.
So I give this one **1/2 out of *****

The Thing in the Crypt -
Locations: the Hyperborean slopes of the Graskill Mountains
Towns, cities and other palces: A Tomb in the mountains
Characters: Conan (age about 15)
Languages Spoken: Cimmerian, Aesir

Up next is Conan the Defiant by Steve Perry.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

1. Bantam Conan #1.1, The Swordsman: Legions of the Dead

From Hyborean Apocrypha

Following the William Galen Grey Chronology our first story is "Legions of the Dead" By L. Sprague DeCamp and Lin Carter which is found in Bantam Book's Conan the Swordsman, originally printed in 1978. This volume mostly consists of ret cons that slot in between various previously printed stories, some of them actually do help clear up some confusion, but others due mostly to editorial oversights simply add to the confusion.

The book contains a forward before each story to lend it context, at the beggining of this one it is established that Conan's father is a blacksmith, that he comes from the cloudy and dour land of Cimmeria and that he at the age of 15 stands 6 foot tall and weighs 180lbs.. and that he was a member of the forces which sacked the Aquilonian garrison of Venarium.

At some point after the raid on Venarium, Conan (age 16) joins a band of Aesir warriors who are raiding their foes the Vanir, and the evil sorcerers of the nation of Hyperborea, itself allegedly an offshoot of the very same Hyperborea of Clark Ashton Smith fame.. This concept is not really explored, and beyond them having the same name and the fact Lin Carter edited a series of Clark Ashton smith volumes for Ballantine books.. its mostly conjecture but an intriguing concept none the less.

We learn a few pages in that Conan has fled his native Cimmeria due to a blood feud and taken up with the band of Aesir warriors, though the story opens with a hunt in progress, not for loot, but for dinner. It's a pretty good way to display the strengths that this younger Conan already has to offer. His prowess in the hunt is good, swiftly dispatching a dear with a javelin, disposing of the offal and covering his tracks well.

We are quickly introduced to the Aesir characters, Njal the Jarl of the group, Gorm the Skald, and Egil the Huntsman, they are just a few of the 6 dozen or so Aesir warriors in the war band. A war band which is fixing to raid the Hyperborean stronghold of Haloga and its evil sorceress mistress. The Purpose of the raid is made clear, Njal's daughter, Rann, has been kidnapped by the witchmen so that their dark queen may perform some diabolical rite.

Njal had split the group in two, about three dozen men under their leader Egil the Hunter are dispatched to scout ahead, A move which the young Conan had protested. Njal and the rest follow them a day latter. Njal's troop reaches the walls of Haloga to discover no Egil, the sun is also about to rise. To the horror of Njal, Conan and the rest, this morning sun displays a grisly sight, all of Egil's men have been hung from the parapets of the Fortress.

While Njal despairs, Conan sneaks into the fortress and dispatches two Hyperborean guards, who we are told is gaunt, pale, with amber eyes and dressed in black, nearly the spitting image of Micheal Moorecock's Elric. Conan quickly locates Rann, and they plot their escape. Rejoining the rest of the band, they quickly depart, sacrificing stealth for speed.

But despite their speed, they are inexorably pursued... much to the horror of the Aesir.. by their previously thought dead comrades, some how re-animated to life by the Witch-Queen, Vammatar the Cruel. The undead legion quickly overwhelms the Aesir. Njal and Gorm are slain, but Rann and a few others escape thanks to Conan, who is himself taken into captivity by Vammatar.

The Story ends with Vammatar's procession of slaves being lead back to Haloga.

Generally speaking this is a pretty decent story, even a decent Conan story. It attempts to establish a basis for Conan's hatred of sorcery and an especial loathing for the Hyperborean race. It does this well, though we never do learn exactly what happened to Conan during this time period, as the next story picks up after he has escaped from Halogas slave pens and is making his way south through the mountains. It's certainly one of the better of the LSdC&LC offerings, but it does have several problems.

The most glaring of which, may seem inconsequential at first, but for anyone who knows anything about Conan, it instantly makes one want to hurl the book across the room. The seemingly innocent problem is that Conan prays to Crom in this story, something that the Original author Robert E. Howard specifically stressed he wouldn't do.. it apparently " Wasn't wise to draw the gods attention to you ".. It shows that despite all his bluster, DeCamp really never payed attention to the original stories. Parts of the story come across as rather too cute, but thats another staple of DeCamp's work, and in its own way it is at least a novelty to set him apart from Carter and Howard.

All in all I give this story *** out of ***** stars.

Legions of the Dead -
Locations: Hyperborea
Towns, cities and other places: Haloga
Characters: Conan (age about 15), Njal, Gorm, Egil, other assorted Aesir Warriors, Rann Njalsdottir, Vammatar the cruel

Up next is " The Thing in the Crypt ".

Bad news for you, Good news for me.

I seem to have some how lost my copy of Conan of Venarium by Harry Turtledove, I remember buying it from a library book sale for the whopping sum of .25cents (about all its worth btw) But its not on my shelf with all my other Tor Conans.. which makes sense as it was the Hardback copy.. the question is where did I put it.

So I've decided to go with the original WGG time line which didn't include CoV.. and will be reading the first couple of short stories tomorrow and reviewing them.

whenever I do actually find Conan of Venarium, I will review it, but if I cannot find it.. there is no way I'm spending money on another copy, so you will just have to be content without it.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Publishing Profile - Conan the Barbarian

"Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet."
— Robert E. Howard, The Phoenix on the Sword, 1932.

Created by Texas writer Robert E. Howard in a re-write of an earlier story, Conan the Cimmerian strode onto the pages of weird tales magazine in the 1930's. He's proved most obstinate in sticking around, and better for all of us. Howard wrote Twenty One Conan stories, Seventeen of which were published during his lifetime, four were unpublished at the time of his untimely and unfortunate suicide in 1936. I won't be arm chair psychoanalyzing him, I will leave that to the Howard Scholars, and the Howard Shield wall. Though I will give a brief Biography of him later on.

Wait, Twenty One Stories? There are Ninety Nine listed on your website, I hear you say.. Let me explain.

Between 1950, and 1957, a small publisher known as Gnome Press, began re-releasing the Conan stories in hardback, The first Five volumes contained 20 of the 21 Conan stories, the last two volumes contained Pastiche material mainly consisting of a bit of Fan Fiction from one Bjorn Nyberg and several Non Conan, Howard stories edited by L. Sprague DeCamp into Howard stories.

Starting in 1966 with Conan the Adventurer, L. Sprague DeCamp and new collaborator Lin Carter began collating and re-re-releasing the Conan stories, Both Howard and Pastiche for Lancer books. They increased the total number of stories considerably, though they are mostly of dubious quality. Lancer went belly up before all 12 volumes of this series could be printed.

Enter, Ace Publishing. Who published what would become Volume 11, Conan of Aqulionia in 1977.. hardly the auspicious title that Lin Carter makes it out to be in Years Best Fantasy Stories 4.. Especially not when he compares its release to the Silmarillion which came out the same year..

Ace may have started with that volume, But they quickly reprinted the other 11 volumes.. Finally the " Complete Conan Saga " was available for the masses. We are still suffering the results of this to this day. Oliver stone speaks of the 12 Volume series when talking about writing the scripts for what became 1982's Conan the Barbarian... Again we are still suffering for this to this day.

But the series was a HUGE success, due in equal parts in my opinion to Howard's Prose and Frank Frazetta's Covers.. I guess its safe to say the series wasn't hindered by DeCamp, Carter and Vellajo's contributions.. because the series was followed by the first of the new Pastiches, Conan the Mercenary, and Conan and The Sorcerer, Both by Andrew J. Offutt.

But the pace or the pay wasn't good enough, so DeCamp started another new series in 1978 with Bantam Books.. I've never been able to find a specific reason for this change in publisher, as the books are ostensibly numbered 13-18 of the Conan Saga. Beggining with Conan The Swordsman, a collection of Short stories.. This series featured some very big Names.. Karl Edward Wagner and Poul Anderson.. it also contained the novelization of the 1982 Movie.

In 1982, a 3rd pastiche series was launched by then newcomer TOR books, starting out with some books by one Robert Jordan, who hadn't yet reached international fame with his Wheel of Time series.. There are 43 books in the Tor Series.

And that should just about bring you up on what you need to know so we can get started.

Definition of the Day - Pastiche

pas⋅tiche /pæˈstiʃ, pɑ-/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [pa-steesh, pah-]


1. A literary, musical, or artistic piece consisting wholly or chiefly of motifs or techniques borrowed from one or more sources.

2. An incongruous combination of materials, forms, motifs, etc., taken from different sources; hodgepodge.

3. A dramatic, literary, or musical piece openly imitating the previous works of other artists.

The List

1. Conan of Venarium By Harry Turtledove
2. "Legions of the Dead" By Lin Carter and L. Sprague DeCamp
3. "The Thing in the Crypt" By Lin Carter and L. Sprague DeCamp
4. Conan the Defiant By Steve Perry
5. Conan the Hunter By Sean A. Moore
6. Conan the Indomitable By Steve Perry
7. Conan the Free Lance By Steve Perry
8. Conan the Formidable By Steve Perry
9. "The Tower of the Elephant" By Robert E. Howard
10. Conan and the Sorcerer By Andrew J. Offutt
11. Conan the Mercenary By Andrew J. Offutt
12. Conan: The Sword of Skelos By Andrew J. Offutt
13. Conan the Outcast By Leonard Carpenter
14. Conan the Magnificent By Robert Jordan
15. Conan the Invincible By Robert Jordan
16. "The Hall of the Dead" By Robert E. Howard and L. Sprague DeCamp
17. Conan the Fearless By Steve Perry
18. "The God in the Bowl" By Robert E. Howard
19. Conan the Warlord By Leonard Carpenter
20. "Rogues in the House" By Robert E. Howard
21. Conan the Victorious By Robert Jordan
22. Conan the Unconquered By Robert Jordan
23. "The Hand of Nergal" By Robert E. Howard and Lin Carter
24. "The City of Skulls" By L. Sprague DeCamp and Lin Carter
25. Conan the Hero By Leonard Carpenter
26. "The People of the Summit" By Bjorn Nyberg and L. Sprague DeCamp
27. "The Curse of the Monolith" By L. Sprague DeCamp and Lin Carter
28. Conan the Valiant By Roland Green
29. Conan and the Spider God By L. Sprague DeCamp
30. "The Blood-Stained God" By Robert E. Howard and L. Sprague DeCamp
31. Conan the Valorous By John Maddox Roberts
32. "The Frost Giant's Daughter" By Robert E. Howard
33. "The Lair of the Ice Worm" By L. Sprague DeCamp and Lin Carter
34. Conan the Relentless By Roland Green
35. Conan the Savage By Leonard Carpenter
36. Conan the Defender By Robert Jordan
37. Conan the Triumphant By Robert Jordan
38. Conan the Guardian By Roland Green
39. "Queen of the Black Coast" (part 1) By Robert E. Howard
40. Conan the Rebel By Poul Anderson
41. "Queen of the Black Coast" (part 2) By Robert E. Howard
42. Conan at the Demon's Gate By Roland Green
43. "The Vale of Lost Women" By Robert E. Howard
44. "The Castle of Terror" By L. Sprague DeCamp and Lin Carter
45. "The Snout in the Dark" By Robert E. Howard and L. Sprague DeCamp
46. Conan the Gladiator By Leonard Carpenter
47. Conan and the Emerald Lotus By John C. Hocking
48. "Hawks Over Shem" By Robert E. Howard and L. Sprague DeCamp
49. "Black Colossus" By Robert E. Howard
50. "Shadows in the Dark" By L. Sprague DeCamp and Lin Carter
51. Conan: The Road of Kings By Karl Edward Wagner
52. Conan the Renegade By Leonard Carpenter
53. "Shadows in the Moonlight" By Robert E. Howard
54. Conan of the Red Brotherhood By Leonard Carpenter
55. Conan: Scourge of the Bloody Coast By Leonard Carpenter
56. Conan the Champion By John Maddox Roberts
57. "The Road of the Eagles" By Robert E. Howard and L. Sprague DeCamp
58. "A Witch Shall be Born" By Robert E. Howard
59. "Black Tears" By L. Sprague DeCamp and Lin Carter
60. Conan and the Manhunters By John Maddox Roberts
61. "Shadows in Zamboula" By Robert E. Howard
62. Conan the Raider By Leonard Carpenter
63. "The Star of Khorala" By Bjorn Nyberg and L. Sprague DeCamp
64. Conan and the Death Lord of Thanza By Roland Green
65. Conan and the Amazon By John Maddox Roberts
66. "The Devil in Iron" By Robert E. Howard
67. "The Flame Knife" By Robert E. Howard And L. Sprague DeCamp
68. Conan and the Shaman's Curse By Sean A. Moore
69. "The People of the Black Circle" By Robert E. Howard
70. Conan the Marauder By John Maddox Roberts
71. Conan and the Mists of Doom By Roland Green
72. "The Slithering Shadow" By Robert E. Howard
73. "Drums of Tombalku" By Robert E. Howard
74. "The Gem in the Tower" By L. Sprague DeCamp and Lin Carter
75. Conan and the Grim Grey God By Sean A. Moore
76. "The Pool of the Black One" By Robert E. Howard
77. Conan the Buccaneer By L. Sprague DeCamp and Lin Carter
78. "Red Nails" By Robert E. Howard
79. Conan and the Gods of the Mountain By Roland Green
80. "Jewels of Gwahlur" By Robert E. Howard
81. "The Ivory Goddess" By L. Sprague DeCamp and Lin Carter
82. Conan and the Treasure of Python By John Maddox Roberts
83. Conan: Lord of the Black River By Leonard Carpenter
84. Conan the Rogue By John Maddox Roberts
85. "Beyond the Black River" By Robert E. Howard
86. "Moon of Blood" By L. Sprague DeCamp and Lin Carter
87. "The Treasure of Tranicos" By Robert E. Howard And L. Sprague DeCamp
88. "Wolves Beyond the Border" By Robert E. Howard And L. Sprague DeCamp
89. Conan the Liberator By L. Sprague DeCamp
90. "The Phoenix on the Sword" By Robert E. Howard
91. "The Scarlet Citadel" By Robert E. Howard
92. The Hour of the Dragon By Robert E. Howard
93. The Return of Conan By Bjorn Nyberg and L. Sprague DeCamp
94. Conan the Great By Leonard Carpenter
95. "The Witches of the Mists" By L. Sprague DeCamp and Lin Carter
96. "Black Sphinx of Nebthu" By L. Sprague DeCamp and Lin Carter
97. "Red Moon of Zembabwei" By L. Sprague DeCamp and Lin Carter
98. "Shadows in the Skull" By L. Sprague DeCamp and Lin Carter
99. Conan of the Isles By L. Sprague DeCamp and Lin Carter

Others Apocrypha:
1. Conan the Bold By John Maddox Roberts
2. Conan the Barbarian By L. Sprague DeCamp and Lin Carter
3. Conan the Destroyer By Robert Jordan

Statement of Purpose.

Beginning in a few weeks I will be embarking on a voyage that I've been told is crazy, but I feel it must be done.

Over the last few years I've collected the entire run of Conan Pastiches from Ace, Bantam and Tor books. And thanks to one William Galen Grey, I have an order with which to read them in. So this blog's purpose will be for me to chronicle this adventure.

I've named the blog Hyborean Apocrypha, these works are Spurious and of Doubtful Authenticity, both definitions which pertain to the word. They are not authorized by Robert E. Howard the creator of Conan, but were written to begin with by L. Sprague DeCamp, Lin Carter and Bjorn Nyberg, and then later by such now Fantasy Superstars as Robert Jordan.

I will be reading the novels and short stories in the order of WGG's timeline. Starting with Harry Turtledoves Conan of Venarium, when I've finished the initial run of 99 Novels and Short stories, I will read the 3 " Apocryphal works " Conan the Bold, Conan the Barbarian and Conan the Destroyer.