Second in the Conan series (according to my notes).
Jottings transfered from the Dolls House:
The Curse of the Monoloth (de Camp & Carter): Still in the employ of the Turanians, Conan is chosen to lead a troop of men east to Khitai, to present a peace treaty. The treaty is accepted and Conan and his band are guided back across the borders by the foppish Duke Feng (with a name like that, you just know the guy's going to be trouble). Feng tells Conan that there is an ancient burial chamber full of treasure close by, and he'll split the loot if Conan will help him get his hands on it. Of course, life is never that simple. This one's quite readable, although some of the dialogue between Conan and Feng seems to have been written with the authors' tongues stuck firmly in their collective cheeks. Still, the story's none the worse for a little unintentional humour. Originally entitled 'Conan and the Centograph.'
The Bloodstained God (Howard & de Camp): This one comes from an unpublished Howard story which was originally set in contemporary Afghanistan. Conan goes in search of a huge ruby-crusted idol in a secret mountain temple, getting mixed up with various warring tribes on the way.
The Frost Giant's Daughter (Howard): The sole survivor of a bloody battle in the snow, Conan sees a (naturally) near naked girl walking among the dead. She lures him after her and so begins a lengthy chase deep into the mountains. This one has all the usual Howard themes of powerlust, plain ordinary lust, rape, mutilation, castration, and so on. The snow nymph, despite her ethereal quality, is still clearly a forerunner of those women of the Gaines horror comics of the Fifties, women who, to use Stephen King's words (in Danse Macabre), were 'slightly overripe, enticingly fleshly and sexual, but ultimately evil: castrating, murdering bitches...' All this aside, it's an oddly poetic story for Howard, with a suggestion of great loneliness as the hero pursues the elusive girl across the vast snow plains among the mountains.
The Lair of the Ice Worm (de Camp & Carter): Riding in the mountains, Conan saves a girl from a bunch of cannibalistic mountain-men. His horse killed in the skirmish, he gathers up the girl and seeks shelter for the night in some ice caves. There's another example here of the curious morality which seems to govern this kind of fiction; again to cite King, 'the girl is alright until she takes her clothes off.' And after thanking her barbarian saviour in the only way (apparently) that she can, we know that she is doomed. After that, it's up to Conan to avenge her. This is one of de Camp and Carter's more readable original stories. Can't imagine why more women don't read these things!
Queen of the Black Coast (Howard): In this one Conan escapes the clutches of the law by jumping aboard an outward bound ship, which pretty soon comes under attack by pirates led by Bêlit the pirate queen. Bêlit is to become the first real love of Conan's life. There's more than a touch of hysteria about her initial declaration of love; but soon the story settles down to a grim exploration of a poisonous river in search of riches in a lost jungle city. This one sees Howard in very dark mood, with monsters, murder and treachery in the deadly ruins in the jungle.
The Vale of Lost Women (Howard): Conan keeps a relatively low profile in this one; unusually, the major part of the story is told from the viewpoint of a woman. Conan, attempting to rise to the head of a black army, has come to forge an alliance between two tribes. The lady persuades him otherwise and a bloody war breaks out instead. Chickening out at the last moment, she beats it under cover of battle and seeks refuge in a valley which is believed cursed. Naturally, Conan isn't far behind. There's a curiously romantic feel to this one (a touch of The Spy Who Loved Me) which suggests that if Howard were around today he might have been able to make a few bucks writing for Mills & Boon. All the same, it's one of the better stories.
The Castle of Terror (de Camp & Carter): Giving up all hope of building a black empire, Conan finds himself seeking shelter for the night in a bizarre castle in the middle of a sterile plain. The castle, with its weird Lovecraftian architecture, is nicely evoked; and there's a pleasingly gruesome monster.
The Snout in the Dark (Howard, de Camp & Carter): Someone (or something) is killing off those citizens of Kush who are less than sympathetic toward Queen Tananda's reign. Not only is it killing them, it's chewing them up a bit and generally making a mess. Is Queen Tananda behind it, or does someone just want it to look that way? Well, actually, we learn the answer to that question pretty early on. Conan saves the Queen from an mob and is appointed her personal bodyguard (which also involves keeping her bed warm, natch), a situation which only lasts until a prettier girl arrives on the scene. This one's the low point of the collection, based on half a story and an outline by Howard. A bit of a mess really. There's the usual introduction by de Camp, and his introductory notes to the stories sometimes have a pleasing dry humour. The cover painting's by Frazetta of course.
I've recently become entranced by the Conan mythos.Having acquired the first 20 odd issues of the Marvel comic series by Barry Smith and friends in the now oop Essentials volume ( Orlof I owes ya buddy). I wanted it primarily for the art ( which is as fantastic as I'd hoped) - Frazetta is by far not the only really good delineator - he's *just* the most famous. Anyway I've really got into the stories themselves and so am interested in this:
The idea of a handy book containing all the R.E.H Conan's tales is tempting. I understand it reprints the Weird Tales versions. There are other edits available - but frankly I'm not *that* wankliy obsessed to worry on this score yet!
Post by David A. Riley on Oct 14, 2008 5:49:51 GMT
I have The Complete Chronicles of Conan and I could not recommend this book highly enough. It is a beautifullu produced book in its own right and contains all the Conan stories in the order in which they were published. As you would expect from anything that Steve Jones has had a hand in, it is superb.
It matches the other Gollancz book, The Necronomicon, containing Lovecraft's best stories.
Spurs - sepia is better than blurred b/w ! I understand that Roy Thomas has a mammoth Conan retrospective book out that carries a really cool map. God I'm getting anal here aren't I ?
Agreed. The maps on the inside of those paperbacks are pretty much a waste of time. I have a near complete collection of the b/w comic magazine "Savage Sword Of Conan" which I scored off eBay for £40 (200+ comics) and have started to get the re-releases of the 4 colour comic version.
I always preferred Kane though.
"Pigeons From Hell" is a top story. Recently 're-imagined' by Joe Lansdale into an updated comic book, but the best version is the Boris Karloff "Thriller" episode which out available for download out there in inter web land.
Anyone know the copyright situation on R.E.H's stories?
As is often the case with these things, there seems to be a certain amount of dispute. However, I imagine Wordsworth were satisfied that all of Howard's work which they've so far reprinted is now in the public domain.
Paul Herman wrote a lenghty article in 2002 on 'The copyright and ownership status of the works and words of Robert E. Howard', revised last year, which you might like to have a look at;
He lists some 250 stories and articles, plus a similar amount of poems and letters which he asserts are no longer bound by copyright. Most of his research relates to US copyright law but he also gives a brief summary of the situation as he sees it regarding non-US copyright.
Post by Craig Herbertson on Oct 14, 2008 17:49:18 GMT
Interesting. It reminds me that it was the giant of pulp fiction Edgar Rice Burroughs who first managed to gain copyright laws and subsequent benefits for authors - prior to his efforts writers simply got paid once and then ripped off lots
I understand that Paradox Productions might have claim on Conan according to wiki. Though now that 70 years are up here - who knows? I'm not intending to reprint R.E.H's work by the way - lol - just interested from an illustration/ comics angle. I really enjoy the lushness of his stories ( the few I've read) and think Barry Windsor Smith really captured the eclectic mix of styles very well - better in fact than Frazetta in my opinion - but that's not to slight Frank's amazing covers. Frazetta lacks ornateness for the most part but captures the smouldering savagery ( if that makes sense?) .
Never realised R.E.H. was so dark either - I need lashing with barbed spikes for thinking it was similar to Tolkein's stuff.It's much more interesting ( to me).