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The Conquering Sword of Conan (Conan of Cimmeria, Book 3) Paperback – November 29, 2005
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“Howard’s writing seems so highly charged with energy that it nearly gives off sparks.”
“Howard honestly believed the basic truth of the stories he was telling. It’s as if he’d said, ‘This is how life was really lived in those former savage times!’ ”
“For stark, living fear . . . what other writer is even in the running with Robert E. Howard?”
–H. P. Lovecraft
About the Author
Robert E. Howard is one of the most prolific short story writers in American history, and has created such beloved characters as Conan the Barbarian, Kull of Atlantis, Soloman Kane, Bran Mak Morn, El Borak, and Dark Agnès de Chastillon. He tragically passed away in 1936.
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Top Customer Reviews
While "Red Nails" is arguably the penultimate Conan tale, I find myself still thinking about "The Black Stranger." Perhaps it is the mix of the ingredients in the story: an exiled noble and his family; a makeshift fortress far from civilized lands, surrounded by barbarians; a strange treasure, hidden in the wilds; and the presence of several different persons, all with radically different goals and morals (the noble, pirates, a barbarian that has some experience with civilization). Oh, and a curse and unrelenting demon, to boot. While the story is rich with metaphor and example, one passage seems to beautifully distill Howard's view; "I know what it is to be penniless in a Hyborian land. Now in my country sometimes there are famines; but people are hungry only when there's no food in the land at all. But in civilized countries I've seen people sick of gluttony while others were starving. Aye, I've seen men fall and die of hunger against the walls of shops and storehouses crammed with food." A bold statement, as true today as when Howard wrote it. Indeed, there can be no doubting its veracity even during the ancient time when Howard envisioned this story taking place.
Another tale, "Beyond the Black River", offers a similar view in much plainer language. "Barbarism is the natural state of mankind," the borderer said, still staring somberly at the Cimmerian. "Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always triumph." This passage not only gives voice to a recurring theme in Howard's work, but states a perceived truth bluntly, almost poetically.
Even with the presence and potency of the themes so very present in this last batch of tales, Howard never loses his ability to hypnotize with his prose. Another quote from "The Black Stranger"; "But a chill wave of terror swept over her so she crouched dumb; incapable of the scream that froze behind her lips. It was not such terror as her uncle now inspired in her, or fear like her fear of Zarono, or even of the brooding forest. It was blind unreasoning terror that laid an icy hand on her soul and froze her tongue to her palate." From "Beyond the Black River"; "It had room for no instincts except those of destruction. It was a freak of carnivorous development; evolution run amuck in a horror of fangs and talons." And from "The Servants of Bit-Yakin": "Instinctive action followed recognition so spontaneously that sound, impulse and action were practically simultaneous." Simply put: amazing.
I am saddened that I have read the final page of REH's formative, definitive fantasy character. While these stories were not what I expected when I dove into them, I have certainly enjoyed my time with them. For grim, dark fantasy that hurtles along at a breathless pace, explores places both strange and familiar, and offers savage lessons to those along the way, can there be an equal?
of the genre by anyone's account.
Having read nearly everything he has produced and left behind for us to enjoy can make one statement, "Thoroughly enjoyable". The only sadness
that permeates the hearts of Howard fans is the lack of big screen adaptations. The same can be said for Lovecraft, although his deep ruminations would present a much harder task for producers and directors to make palatable and understandable for the general public.
I would suggest purchasing the Conan Trilogy, Then The Savage tales of Solomon Kane,and Almuric ( which I believe, to a small extent the movie Warcraft may have been based) to get to the meat of his "Swashbucklers". Then Volume 1 and 2 "The best of". Howard's mystery and supernatural is portrayed in the same vividness as these with "The Haunter of the ring and other tails, "Trails in Darkness", Eons of the night", and Beyond the borders". After you get done with these you will begin to see that Howard was ALOT more than a West Texas dreamer.