Wednesday, November 28, 2012

44. Ace Conan #2.8, The Snout in the Dark by Robert E. Howard and L. Sprague Decamp

Conan, now in Meroe the Capital city of Kush, fresh from his adventures in the southern black kingdoms, rescues a queen named Tananda. It seems that Tananda is the cuase of some ire for a dark wizard who is using a conjuration to eliminate political prisoners and then blaming the deaths on the queen. Conan of course can't help but get involved and soon finds himself a captain of the queen's guard. He helps interrogate a suspicious nemedian slave girl before eventually unraveling the plot against the queen.  Conan and the slave girl are nearly killed, but the conjured creature is gravely wounded and returns to it's master, alerting a large crowd of who is behind the killings in the process. Soon a rebellion is rocking the city of Meroe, and Conan and the slave girl decide to leave town.

This is an attempt by DeCamp to finish an REH fragment, I'm not sure how much is which writer, and to be honest it's pretty mediocre. It really rounds off the bulk of this particular book which isn't really that great of a representation of REH's Conan at his best. It contains quite a few stories where Conan either espouses some very nasty opinions, threatens nefarious deeds, or simply runs away in a rather un Conan-like manner. That being said this volume of the ACE series does contain what is one of the BEST Conan, and possibly REH stories ever, Queen of the Black Coast. The rest function more as an Anchor attempting to drag down QotBC than anything else.

Up next, Conan the Gladiator by Leonard Carpenter

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

43. Ace Conan #2.7, The Castle of Terror by L. Sprague De Camp and Lin Carter

Conan, following his adventures with the Bamulas is on the run again. Not from a human adversary but from a pride of Lions. He takes shelter in an abandoned castle and soon finds there is more the ruin than meets the eye.  Thousands of lost souls begin to make their presence known before ultimately coalescing into a multi limbed monstrosity and doing battle with a troop of Stygian slavers who have also stumbled upon the deserted keep. The squamous and horrid creature quickly tears all but one of the slavers to shreds, stopping at simply driving that one insane. Conan, realizing he has no desire to finish his life on so ignominious an end, decides that discretion is the better part of valor and since the slavers won't be needing their horses simply takes one and makes his way away from the keep.

This was not a bad story, benefiting from not being long, but really didn't do much to improve the readers view of Conan the man if read immediately following Vale of Lost Women. It also re-used a lot of the tropes that DeCamp & Carter are well known for.. but the monstrosity had me feeling like I was watching a Hyborean age version of John Carpenter's The Thing.

Up Next, "The Snout in the Dark" By Robert E. Howard and L. Sprague DeCamp