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Conan of Venarium (Tor Fantasy) Mass Market Paperback – June 29, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Master alternative historian Turtledove (American Empire) attempts to inject some life into the well-trod Conan sequel subgenre, but this coming-of-age story of Robert E. Howard's barbarian hero is, alas, just as commonplace as all the other imitations by the late Lin Carter and company. Expansion-minded Aquilonians have invaded and occupied Fort Venarium in southern Cimmeria. Their lecherous commander, Count Stercus, seizes a pretty local girl at whom Conan has often gazed silently, like any tongue-tied teenage boy. You can bet the shy, untried Conan will take on the dastardly count, but will he get the girl? Later, Conan fights with the northern Cimmerians, who have gathered to drive out the Aquilonians. Eventually finding himself alone on the cusp of manhood, he realizes that his life will always be that of a wanderer and a thief. The fantasy elements are disappointingly few-a demonic bird, a huge venomous snake, a seer who foretells the boy's incredible future, a vision of a ruined temple that disappears as suddenly as it appears. Only Conan diehards and Turtledove completists will be likely to pick up this sword-with-little-sorcery novel.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Conan isn't quite 15 when the Aquilonian count, Stercus, exiled for chasing underage girls, leads an army into Cimmeria. Stercus defeats Cimmeria's ferocious but divided warriors, and then adds insult to injury by setting his sights on Conan's crush, Tarla. In this tense situation, Conan rapidly grows to manhood, losing his blacksmith father, Mordec, but learning prowess and honor. In the end, he has no home left in Cimmeria. He departs with a prophecy hanging over him, and that prophecy depicts the golden-lion banner of Aquilonia floating over Conan. He thinks this means the curse of having to live under the Aquilonians. Among Conan's many limners, Turtledove distinguishes himself with an unmatched portrait of Cimmerian society and a fine, intelligent characterization of the young barbarian. The best-selling alternate historian explores the Hyborian Age of Robert E. Howard's durable battler as successfully as he reinvents modern wars. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Tor Fantasy (Book 43)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Fantasy (June 29, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765343886
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765343888
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.7 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #963,678 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Harry Turtledove is the award-winning author of the alternate-history works The Man with the Iron Heart; The Guns of the South; How Few Remain (winner of the Sidewise Award for Best Novel); the Worldwar saga: In the Balance, Tilting the Balance, Upsetting the Balance, and Striking the Balance; the Colonization books: Second Contact, Down to Earth, and Aftershocks; the Great War epics: American Front, Walk in Hell, and Breakthroughs; the American Empire novels: Blood & Iron, The Center Cannot Hold, and Victorious Opposition; and the Settling Accounts series: Return Engagement, Drive to the East, The Grapple, and In at the Death. Turtledove is married to fellow novelist Laura Frankos. They have three daughters: Alison, Rachel, and Rebecca.

Customer Reviews

I tried reading his latest fantasy novels but I can't stand the mixing of fantasy with science.
Don't waste your time on this book while there are now collected volumes of Robert E. Howard's work along with some new artists.
R. Greenbaum
Turtledove is a fine author, but obviously was working under an incredible deadline when he rendered this.
J. Quam

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Pequegnat on November 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is by far the worst Conan book that I have read, no contest; it's so bad it's laughable.
The author must have been sitting at home, eating popcorn watching Mel Gibson in Bravehart, and thought, "This would make a great Conan Story, sure changes some stuff so as to not have to pay royalties to the producers, but why not!"
Why is it so bad?
1. Conan and his people are barbarians (think early Viking, Visigoths, Huns, etc.), but the Author has them living in a village straight out of the late middle ages, they have streets, they have multi room houses (many frontier American log cabins as well as most European peasants had single room homes well into the 19th century), they have a black smith with a bellows forge (middle ages tech), and their homes are thatched roofed, (yes, thatched, not animal skin, sod, or timber, but thatch, wrong climate and tech for barbarians). "Say, Conan, could you shovel the two tons of snow out of the living room--- again".
2. The Barbarians, have a tight laced Victorian morals (no really, you didn't know that well---) It seems that a people who have a life expectancy of no more than 30 years, were most girls would be married and have kids by their mid teens, well these Barbarians get all up tight about a 14 year old girl and a Count, (The author brings this up again and again, it's a central plot element).
3. Conan, the hard fighting, hard drinking, hard whenching Barbarian hero, in this book is so shy he's afraid to talk to the village girl he's sweet on. (No stop laughing, it gets even weirder). Conan's character it seems is the creepy Bates guy straight out the movie Psycho, "Yes, Mother. Can I get you anything Mother? Let me do that for you MOTHER!" can we say obsequious!
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Vijay Singh on November 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This has to be the worst Conan book ever written. After reading the book, I have to wonder if Mr. Turtledove ever actually read a Conan book. He totally messes up on the entire idea of Cimmerians, having them live in towns!!!! Any one with any idea of the Conan mythos knows that the Cimmerians were a semi nomadic people. He also goes against the set ideas of Conan's parents, making his father a (blacksmith the only right part) natural part of the tribe (more like city) and his mother a practical sick invalid. Also, to make matters even worse, in what I feel is the biggest insult to Robert Howard and the countless other writers who have painstakingly developed the Conan series to what it is today, he makes the Cimmerians live under occupation!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No Cimmerian would ever live under any type of yoke. Conan also forsakes Crom in the story and uses poisoned weapons another huge mistake turtledove incorporates into HIS Conan, and I say HIS for any true Conan fan would know that this is not the real Conan being depicted. On top of all the insulting depictions of Conan, the book is poorly written, with battle scenes being quick, tepid, and not at all detailed. Do yourself a favor and pick up any of TOR's other Conan books and stay away from this piece of garbage unless you want to make yourself purposely mad.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Tim Janson HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 7, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The book states that harry is a lifelong Conan fan. Well, it must be Conan O'Brian because it certainlt isn't Conan the Barbarian. How could anyone who ever READ and any of Robert E. Howard's works ever come up with such a mess as this. I was quite excited about it as the Sack of Vanarium is the first significant event that Robert E. Howard ever mentions about the 16 year old Conan but never put it into story. I would have preferred that it wasn't now. Of course this concerns Aquilonia, the most powerful kingdom of the Hyborian world, expanding its borders deep into the northen lands and into Conan's home of Cimmeria, and of the subsequent destruction of Venarium outpost by the Cimmerians.

Poorly developed characters including Conan's mother not to mention most of the Cimmerians who come off as more like brutish stupid Picts than the powerful, yet clever warriors they were. And since when do Cimmerians live in towns??? There were tribesman. Nomadic Tribesman who lived more along the lines of native Americans in animal skinned or wood huts or even caves...but not in structures that Turtledove describes.

The action scenes are poorly paced and boring, the characters are boring, and Conan comes off in his youth as a sniveling momma's boy. Turtledove makes Roland Green look like Tolkien by comparison. Just Awful!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By mhensley on October 27, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is the book that has finally made me give up on trying to read Turtledove. I loved his World War books (although they lasted longer than I cared for) and I kept hoping that he would write some comparable fantasy.
I tried some of his older fantasy works and found them a bit dry. I tried reading his latest fantasy novels but I can't stand the mixing of fantasy with science. Then I saw that he was going to do a Conan novel.
I love Conan stories and was excited to see such a well-regarded writer trying his hand at one. I was disappointed to say the least. While the writing is decent from a technical standpoint, I found that it was totally lacking in the flavor that I had come to expect from a Conan novel.
Some story elements were very cliched. Other things, such as Conan's encounter in a abandoned temple, seemed totally out of place in the story as a whole. I also thought that several things in the novel conflicted with what has already been written by Howard about Conan's teen years.
If you love Robert E. Howard's writing, don't waste your time with this book. On the other hand, if you don't know who that is, you might find this a passable read.
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