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The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian: The Original Adventures of the Greatest Sword and Sorcery Hero of All Time! Paperback – December 2, 2003
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“Howard’s writing seems so highly charged that it nearly gives off sparks.”
“I adore these books. Howard had a gritty, vibrant style–broadsword writing that cut its way to the heart, with heroes who are truly larger than life. I heartily recommend them to anyone who loves fantasy.”
Author of Legend and White Wolf
“The voice of Robert E. Howard still resonates after decades with readers– equal parts ringing steel, thunderous horse hooves, and spattered blood.
Far from being a stereotype, his creation of Conan is the high heroic adventurer. His raw muscle and sinews, boiling temper, and lusty
laughs are the gauge by which all modern heroes must be measured.”
–ERIC NYLUND, Author of
Halo: The Fall of Reach and Signal to Noise
“That teller of marvelous tales, Robert Howard, did indeed create a giant [Conan] in whose shadow other ‘hero tales’ must stand.”
–JOHN JAKES, New York Times bestselling author
of the North and South trilogy
“For stark, living fear . . . What other writer is even in the running with Robert E. Howard?”
–H. P. LOVECRAFT
From the Inside Flap
""Between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities . . . there was an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars. . . . Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand . . . to tread
the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet."
Conan is one of the greatest fictional heroes ever created-a swordsman who cuts a swath across the lands of the Hyborian Age, facing powerful sorcerers, deadly creatures, and ruthless armies of thieves and reavers.
In a meteoric career that spanned a mere twelve years before his tragic suicide, Robert E. Howard single-handedly invented the genre that came to be called sword and sorcery. Collected in this volume, profusely illustrated by artist Mark Schultz, are Howard's first thirteen Conan stories, appearing in their original versions-in some cases for the first time in more than seventy years-and in the order Howard wrote them. Along with classics of dark fantasy like "The Tower of the Elephant" and swashbuckling adventure like "Queen of the Black Coast," "The Coming of Conan "the Cimmerian contains a wealth of material never before published in the United States, including the first submitted draft of Conan's debut, "Phoenix on the Sword," Howard's synopses for "The Scarlet Citadel" and "Black Colossus," and a map of Conan's world drawn by the author himself.
Here are timeless tales featuring Conan the raw and dangerous youth, Conan the daring thief, Conan the swashbuckling pirate, and Conan the commander of armies. Here, too, is an unparalleled glimpse into the mind of a genius whose bold storytelling style has beenimitated by many, yet equaled by none.
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Top Customer Reviews
Fact: no one wrote the Cimmerian better than his creator Robert E. Howard. Later on a few writers took some fairly informed stabs at continuing his material, most failed. Robert Jordan was the best imitator I read but that's a slight statement comparing him to Lin Carter and Björn Nyberg's fan-fic efforts.
L. Sprague de Camp was embarrassingly bad trying to write the character too although I don't damn the guy like most purists. He may have churned out crappy Conan fare, but he actually edited Howard's prose quite well, i.e. Treasure of Tranicos gives the largely absent Conan more onstage time, is funnier and more fleshed out than The Black Stranger (not in the book on review). Most important, de Camp went to great lengths to keep Conan in the public eye by getting Howard's tales reprinted in Gnome Press in the fifties and then in Lancer Books in the sixties. If it wasn't for de Camp none of us may ever have heard of Bob Howard. I don't care if de Camp changed story titles, he always told readers the original names anyway; don't care if he padded the saga for meretricious reasons; and could care less if de Camp (and Glen Lord and Lancer) got rich off Howard's writing. With Howard long deceased somebody was going to. Readers can't deny the benefits they've reaped from being introduced to Conan.
Frazetta had more to do with Conan's success in the sixties than de Camp. You had to be there to grasp that. I'd seen Frazetta for years on Ace Book covers and in MAD Magazine and thought highly of his art. But nothing prepared me for Frazetta's savage vision of the Cimmerian, it was the best art of Frank's career. Back then I'd buy books with Frazetta covers just for the art and seldom read the book, but when I opened the pages of Conan the Adventurer I realized that just for once the art matched the story. Frazetta is definitely the iconic Conan illustrator but others have done well by the barbarian: Buscema, Alcala, Maroto and I welcome Mark Schultz to those distinguished ranks. I enjoyed his take on Conan in this book a lot, although he's more clean cut than the Conan in my imagination. The other volumes in this set also have excellent artwork.
I disagree with many about the best stories in THE COMING OF CONAN THE CIMMERIAN. Rogues in the House (Howard paying homage to Poe?) and The Tower of the Elephant (a Cthulhu mythos tale with Conan?) are classics, of course, like The Phoenix on the Sword and The Scarlet Citadel. Black Colossus and Queen of the Black Coast are considered classic Conan too by most, but I never have liked them. I've read them a couple times apiece and they just don't put that stupid grin on my face I get with "formula" pieces like Iron Shadows in the Moon, Xuthal of the Dusk, The Pool of the Black One and The Devil in Iron (stories I've reread countless times). If I'm odd man out on that score, so be it. Howard evidently enjoyed presenting Conan through another character's eyes instead of telling all the stories from Conan's POV, i.e. Iron Shadows in the Moon is interestingly written in strict third person limited, entirely related from the viewpoint of Olivia, not once is the reader inside Conan's head. A Witch Shall Be Born (not in this volume) is a variation of this motif.
I'm grateful Del Rey got the unadulterated Howard-and-only-Howard Conan into readers' hands in these fine collections. Too bad the fiscally challenged Weird Tales didn't pay Howard the two large they owed him in 1935 or readers might have a couple more Conan novellas the caliber of Red Nails (also not in this volume). And too bad Robert E. Howard got the literary reputation he truly deserved thirty years too late. I'm certainly not as passionate a Conan fan now as I was as a 14-year-old boy staring agog at the cover of Conan the Usurper for the first time in 1967, but reading Howard somehow reminds me of being that kid. And the older I get, the more important that seems to become.
Introduction by Patrice Louinet: Interesting and useful, especially to a newbie like me. Discusses the significance of these editions of Conan stories: "until the present publication, Howard's Conan stories had never been published as Howard wrote them, in the order in which he wrote them, in a uniform collection."
"Cimmeria": short poem containing Conan's remembrances of the home he never revisits, written about the same time that Howard first conceived the character. Also reprinted here: The Best of Robert E. Howard Volume 2: Grim Lands.
"The Phoenix on the Sword": First Conan story was a rewritten Kull story "By This Axe I Rule!" The romance was eliminated, a weird element was added, and after the first draft, the somewhat slow beginning of the plotters' meeting was dropped in favor of the famous excerpt from the Nemedian Chronicles. I liked the original, but I loved this version more.
"The Frost-Giant's Daughter": Interesting twist on several ancient myths with Conan in the role the relentlessly chasing god. Later rewritten as the non-Conan story "The Frost-King's Daughter".
"The God in the Bowl": Weird police procedural involving the investigation of the death of a man Conan was stealing from.
"The Tower of the Elephant": First great Conan story involves Conan's attempt to steal the source of the priest Yara's magic from the title thief-proof tower and what he finds there. Contains interesting bit of history firmly tying the Kull and Conan universes together. Also reprinted here: The Best of Robert E. Howard Volume 2: Grim Lands.
"The Scarlet Citadel": King Conan is betrayed, his army slaughtered, and himself taken prisoner and condemned to a horrible death in the dungeons underneath the title structure, which only makes him mad!
"Queen of the Black Coast": Dark masterpiece about Conan going pirating with Belit, the title pirate leader, and the grim finish, brought on by the last, twisted survivor of a dead primordial race.
"Black Colossus": An ancient sorcerer is reborn and threatens to make Princess Yasmela of Khoraja his bride by force, but a forgotten oracle of Mitra tells her to fear not and place her kingdom in the hands of the first man she meets. Guess who that turns out to be!
"Iron Shadows in the Moon": The first of the "formula" Conan stories. Conan rescues damsel in distress from Hyrkanians, pirates, a giant ape, and statues come to life.
"Xuthal of the Dusk": Conan rescues damsel in distress from two conquering armies, a treacherous Stygian, the god of Xuthal, and the warped Xuthalites themselves.
"The Pool of the Black One": Conan rescues damsel in distress from pirates and inhuman sorcerer giants.
"Rogues in the House": Twist on the formula: Conan rescues fop in distress from anthropoid ape and treacherous priest.
"The Vale of Lost Women": Conan rescues damsel in distress from Kushite tribesmen and "a Devil from the Outer Dark".
"The Devil in Iron": Conan rescues damsel in distress from a couple of Hyrkanian plotters, a giant snake, and an iron-bodied "thing" that had crawled out of the Abyss.
"The Phoenix on the Sword" (first draft): Much closer to the original "By This Axe I Rule!"
"Notes on Various Peoples of the Hyborian Age": Thumbnail sketches of the Aquilonians, Gundermen, and Cimmerians.
"The Hyborian Age": Detailed history of Conan's world. Written primarily as a way for Howard to keep it straight in his stories.
Untitled Synopsis: Never fleshed out outline written after "The God in the Bowl" probably due to rejection of "The Frost-Giant's Daughter".
Untitled Synopses of "The Scarlet Citadel" and "Black Colossus".
Untitled Fragment: Conan starts to rescue damsel in distress. Probably a false start written after "The Vale of Lost Women".
Untitled Synopsis and Untitled Draft: Conan rescues a couple of damsels in distress, the first from a howling mob, the second from the first. Probably a false start written before "The Devil in Iron".
Hyborian Names and Countries and a couple of Hyborian Age Maps: Further author's aids.
"Hyborian Genesis" by Patrice Louinet: Informative notes on the creation of the Conan stories.
"Notes on the Conan Typescripts and the Chronology" and "Notes on the Original Howard Texts": Mostly of use to the Howard scholar.
I am looking forward to reading the rest of this Del Rey series: The Bloody Crown of Conan (Conan of Cimmeria, Book 2),The Conquering Sword of Conan (Conan of Cimmeria, Book 3),Bran Mak Morn: The Last King,The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane,The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard,The Best of Robert E. Howard Volume 1: Crimson Shadows,The Best of Robert E. Howard Volume 2: Grim Lands,The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard, and El Borak and Other Desert Adventures.
Note: My review title comes from the mostly praiseworthy Washington Post review published on Howard's one hundredth birthday. However a couple sentences stand out for sheer stupidity:
"Perhaps most disturbingly, Conan glorifies the Gordian Knot solution: The proper response to a complex problem is to grab a sword and brutally hack away until the problem stops moving. Some naive readers might imagine that such a policy actually works in the real world."
This is an obvious reference to Howard's fellow Texan, "W" the Barbarian, and while we cannot know what Howard would have thought of him, we can know what he'd have thought of this sentiment: this idiocy is why barbarism is the natural state of mankind. Earth to Washington Post: while NOBODY thinks that grabbing a sword and brutally hacking away until the problem stops moving is the solution to EVERY problem, anyone who thinks that it is NEVER the solution "is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
Most Recent Customer Reviews
My first introduction to "Conan" were the Lancer paperbacks I starting buying in 1966.Read more