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Author Topic: Conan Literature  (Read 2023 times)

jeff37923

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Conan Literature
« on: June 05, 2021, 08:52:14 PM »
So, I'm going back to my roots a little bit and have been picking up Conan books. In my youth, I saw the movies and read a handful of stories, but not all of them. Looking at the books now, there are a bunch of authors where I was only familiar with Robert E. Howard, L. Sprague de Camp, and Lin Carter.

My question for the readers is, who do you think are the quintessential Conan story authors whose works I should read? Which authors really understood who Conan was as a character and could write about him?

HappyDaze

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Re: Conan Literature
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2021, 10:35:42 PM »
I'm curious to see the answers this thread gets. I picked up the three Conan story collections several years ago, and they are exclusively REH's stories. I also own quite a bit of the Modiphius Conan line, and it too is exclusively based on the REH material. Because of this, the non-REH Conan stuff (aside from a few old Marvel comics from the early 80s) is a total blindspot for me.

yancy

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Re: Conan Literature
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2021, 11:22:00 PM »
I don't have a shit ton to say about this unfortunately, because I too, recently got a collection of just about every Conan story written by Robert E. Howard, with no stories by anyone else, and haven't read lots of Conan work by other people since the early 80s.

I remember the older stuff (L. Sprague de Camp, Lin Carter) as being mostly dire. I do favorably remember the Marvel Comics stuff using Conan and Kull, at least compared to the short stories, and I've read some of those within the past decade, they hold up ok.

I did recently read both Karl Edward Wagner novels/novellas using Howard's characters, Legion from the Shadows (Bran Mak Morn) & The Road of Kings (Conan), and I'd tentatively recommend both of those as *okay*, not as awful as the things I remember. Really though, you'd be better off reading his Kane stuff, which includes several Conan-type stories much better than either of those were.

So really this is just an excuse for me to shill for KEW :/

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Ratman_tf

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Re: Conan Literature
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2021, 01:07:07 AM »
I got The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian, which is just the REH stuff, and enjoyed it.
I've intentionally stayed away from other authors, as I feel like Conan was REH's thing, and I really am not interested in the character interpreted by another author.
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HappyDaze

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Re: Conan Literature
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2021, 01:08:57 AM »
I got The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian, which is just the REH stuff, and enjoyed it.
IIRC, Conan ejaculates three or four times in that one, right?

oggsmash

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Re: Conan Literature
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2021, 06:43:52 AM »
So, I'm going back to my roots a little bit and have been picking up Conan books. In my youth, I saw the movies and read a handful of stories, but not all of them. Looking at the books now, there are a bunch of authors where I was only familiar with Robert E. Howard, L. Sprague de Camp, and Lin Carter.

My question for the readers is, who do you think are the quintessential Conan story authors whose works I should read? Which authors really understood who Conan was as a character and could write about him?
  I have the three collected works by REH, and have a few books a buddy gave me a few years ago by the "pastiche" authors.  There is a very noticeable drop off in ability and general tone IMO when I read one of the other books.   The books also seem to make Conan a different character at times than as presented by REH, and much of the story telling seems to be people trying to be REH instead of just telling a story about the same guy their way.

   I think the REH stories are very, very hard to beat.  Dark horse comics does have a few issues where they pick up from an REH story and "fill gaps" as to what the Cimmerian was up to in the mean time.  I also favor the Savage Sword of Conan collections (the old black and white comics) offered in compendiums as well.  But the REH stories reign completely supreme, and reading a book by another author (that is not a graphic novel or comic, which these seem to translate Conan's "feel" better than other authors can do with just the written word.

Premier

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Re: Conan Literature
« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2021, 09:18:07 AM »
IIRC, Conan ejaculates three or four times in that one, right?

Actually, most of the ejaculation is done by other characters.

"Zogar Sag’s dead?" ejaculated Conan.
- Beyond the Black River

"Kozak!" ejaculated Shah Amurath, recoiling. "I did not know a dog of you escaped! I thought you all lay stiff on the steppe, by Ilbars River."
- Iron Shadows in the Moon

"Conan, the Cimmerian!" ejaculated the woman. "What are you doing on my trail?"
- Red Nails

"Nabonidus! The Red Priest!" ejaculated Murilo, his brain a dizzy vortex of whirling
amazement. "Then who—what – ?"

Glancing into these tubes, Murilo saw a bewildering array of smaller mirrors.
He turned his attention to the larger mirror in the wall, and ejaculated in amazement. Peering over his shoulder, Conan grunted.
- Rogues in the House

His breath hissed inward and his ruddy face paled. "Avaunt!" he ejaculated. "Why have you come back from the gray lands of death to terrify me? I was always your true liegeman in your lifetime—"

"Conan!" he ejaculated. "It is the king, or his ghost! What devil’s work is this?"

"What are you saying?" ejaculated the other.

"For Mitra’s sake, be silent!"” ejaculated Public, sweat starting out on his brow. His fingers jerked at the gilt-worked edge of his robe

"Who are you?" ejaculated Thutothmes in a voice as pregnant with danger as the hiss of a cobra. "Are you mad, to invade the holy shrine of Set?"
-The Hour of the Dragon

"By Mitra!" ejaculated the commander. "It is Ascalante, once count of Thune! What devil’s work brought him up from his desert haunts?"
-The Phoenix on the Sword

"By Crom!" ejaculated Conan. "It’s Shamar! The dogs besiege it!"
-The Scarlet Citadel

"Thog!" he ejaculated. "You are real! Whence come you? Who are you? What do you in Xuthal?"

"Crom!" he ejaculated aghast. "You mean to tell me these people lie down calmly and sleep, with this demon crawling among them?"
-Xuthal of the Dusk








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ThatChrisGuy

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Re: Conan Literature
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2021, 02:53:02 PM »
My question for the readers is, who do you think are the quintessential Conan story authors whose works I should read? Which authors really understood who Conan was as a character and could write about him?

Just Howard himself.  The stories by others aren't bad, necessarily, but the Howard stories are in a class by themselves.
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tenbones

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Re: Conan Literature
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2021, 09:57:08 AM »
Lin and De Camp's Conan stories were definitely not very Howard.

I'd stick with Howard. The rest is "above average" fan-fiction (take that as you will). L. Sprague de Camp is a decent writer... but the tone of Conan is not the same as Howards as I recall. It's been years but I distinctly remember it feeling like something was off.

I'd stick with REH.

Omega

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Re: Conan Literature
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2021, 01:29:02 PM »
Lin and De Camp's Conan stories were definitely not very Howard.

I'd stick with Howard. The rest is "above average" fan-fiction (take that as you will). L. Sprague de Camp is a decent writer... but the tone of Conan is not the same as Howards as I recall. It's been years but I distinctly remember it feeling like something was off.

I'd stick with REH.

Very agree here. Camps stuff is ok but forgettable. Carters stuff I've disliked across the board. Everything they touch. REH, Lovecraft, and more.

Bedrockbrendan

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Re: Conan Literature
« Reply #10 on: June 10, 2021, 08:12:31 PM »
So, I'm going back to my roots a little bit and have been picking up Conan books. In my youth, I saw the movies and read a handful of stories, but not all of them. Looking at the books now, there are a bunch of authors where I was only familiar with Robert E. Howard, L. Sprague de Camp, and Lin Carter.

My question for the readers is, who do you think are the quintessential Conan story authors whose works I should read? Which authors really understood who Conan was as a character and could write about him?

For me it is just the original Howard stories (all of them: which I think are quite manageable). But I tend to be that way with most authors (I never got too into the other authors who expanded Lovecraft's universe either). Though I am open to changing my mind and read more if anyone feels strongly about a particular author or story. I just find I never quite feel the same about the expanded material of an author handled by other writers (it isn't just characters, prose and story structure I think).

One thing I love about going back to Conan stories is they always inspire gaming ideas for me. Something very gameable about those concepts.

Bedrockbrendan

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Re: Conan Literature
« Reply #11 on: June 10, 2021, 08:13:57 PM »
I got The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian, which is just the REH stuff, and enjoyed it.
IIRC, Conan ejaculates three or four times in that one, right?

I am pretty sure he ejaculates in all of them, whether we see it or not

Bedrockbrendan

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Re: Conan Literature
« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2021, 08:16:44 PM »
I got The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian, which is just the REH stuff, and enjoyed it.
I've intentionally stayed away from other authors, as I feel like Conan was REH's thing, and I really am not interested in the character interpreted by another author.

The other two are good as well (The Conquering Sword and the Bloody Crown).

Lurkndog

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Re: Conan Literature
« Reply #13 on: June 22, 2021, 11:07:47 PM »
As others have noted, the Robert E. Howard stories are the original, good ones.

The Conan stories by other authors are known as pastiches and in this context that is a derogative term.

In the 1970s, there was a revival of interest in Howard's fantasy work, which was called "sword and sorcery" to distinguish it from other fantasy like Tolkien or T.H. White. The Robert E. Howard Conan stories were reprinted, and padded out with Conan stories written by other authors to form paperback collections of 100 pages or so. The result was uneven, but lucrative, and it did keep Howard's name alive and his work in print.

As to why the pastiches are generally not so good, when many of the writers involved were capable of excellent work in their own right, I can only speculate. I suspect writing Conan pastiches was "work for hire" type writing, work done to a mandated formula and style, written for not a lot of money, and produced under strict time constraints. For a professional writer, this was largely mechanical, formulaic work. It would put food on your table and pay the bills, but it wasn't something you poured your soul into. It certainly wasn't writing that would allow you to push in new directions or try out new ideas or develop a unique style.

Lastly, if you have read Robert E. Howard's Conan stories, but only his Conan stories, I strongly recommend checking out his other work. He wrote a broad variety of stories, some of which are surprisingly different in tone from Conan. The Riot at Bucksnort collects his western tall tales, and they are delightful and hilarious. He also wrote some cracking good boxing stories centered around sailor and amateur boxer Steve Costigan. The Solomon Kane stories are also worth reading, as are his horror stories.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2021, 11:10:05 PM by Lurkndog »

Spinachcat

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Re: Conan Literature
« Reply #14 on: June 24, 2021, 12:26:03 AM »
No offense Jeff, but the combo of "Conan" with "Literature" sits badly in my guts. Probably because of too much clown world deconstruction idiocy.

As for reading Conan, I would absolutely re-read Robert E. Howard, but after him, the best Conan authors are probably were Marvel's Savage Sword of Conan.

http://readallcomics.com/savage-sword-of-conan-v1-001/