In a meteoric career that spanned a mere 12 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 are Howard's first 13 Conan stories in their original versions and in the order Howard wrote them. Included are classics of dark fantasy like "The Tower of the Elephant" and swashbuckling adventure like "Queen of the Black Coast."
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 been imitated by many yet equaled by none.
©2002 Conan Properties International, LLC.; (P)2009 Tantor
I hadn't read Robert E. Howard in twenty years, but am better for the reacquaintance. There are some wonderful, well-written stories in this volume. There are also some duds.
As explained in the introduction (which is very interesting and is a highlight of the production), these volumes are presenting the Conan stories in the order they were written, and not in chronological (from the characters' POV) order. This means that Conan may be a middle-aged king in one story, and a hungry young thief in the next. I enjoyed this aspect of the work.
The narrator is well-suited to the subject matter.
Having long known Conan only in generalities and film, I picked this up largely to fill in an unfortunate blank space in my pulp sci-fi/fantasy education: And it most certainly did not disappoint. Much more than just Superman with a sword, Conan impressed me as much more than just the dim barbarian of parodies and spin-offs and proves himself as the king of fantasy heroes. Howard too possesses a talent for action scenes that even nearly 100 years has not diminished, and I found his frequent introductory poems an especial surprise. While undoubtedly a product of its times, there's a visceral adventurousness and hero envy in these stories that any stick-swinging tomboy can appreciate, and if any elements feel cliche, it's only because the freshness they enjoy here in their original incarnations has been aped so many time since.
The Conquering Sword of Conan and other Howard stories are totally on my wishlist after this, and here's hoping some of Howard's horror stories make the site soon!
I am a huge fan of the writings of Robert E. Howard and his Conan tales are among my favorites. This series presents the tales as they originally appeared over 70 years ago, not the "posthumous collaborations" published years after REH's unfortunate suicide that most readers are familiar with. Also, Todd McLaren provides yet another strong performance. As a narrator he is more than capable of providing voices to the motley assortment of characters who populated the world REH created.
If you only know of Conan from film and comics this is definitely the place to start reading ( or in this case hearing) the tales as they originally told. I"m looking forward to the rest of Howard's works being released as audiobooks.
As a lifelong admirer of fellow Texan Robert E. Howard's work, I am so pleased to see the original Conan stories released in audio with outstanding narration. The stories in this first collection are spellbinding in their scope and imagination. In hearing them again so many years later, I was struck by the realization that many lesser authors over the years have borrowed so much from Howard. Elements of his storytelling are everywhere today, but here is the unadorned original (and the very best of them all). This is not Hollywood's Conan - this is "raw" barbarism.
A masterpiece brought to audible. I've read the stories before and was glad that the narration lived up to the hardcopy version. Long live Conan. "Crom and Steel!!!!
I like scifi and urban fantasy. I don't like romance novels. If you are the same my reviews should help.
If you like the Conan stories of Robert Howard then this is a must. If you are not you may find the stories a bit on the thin side. You have to keep in mind these were a series of short stories writen a long time ago, so you have to keep things in perspective. If you are a fan of Conan stories you will like this and it is very cool that the stories are in chronological order for the character and not the order they were written. That helps you see the development of Conan over the years. The narrarator was ok, but he was a bit bland for the work in my opinion. Still, if you like Conan get it.
I would say this is the best compilation of Howard's Conan stories available. It's a classic, but much less boring than other classics of the time. Well worth the read/listen. I've both read and listened to the book, and enjoyed it both ways. Interior art is awesome as well.
Before we go any further, let’s get one thing straight. This is pulp fantasy written in the 1930’s for a pulp magazine audience and sold for money. This is not a work of high literature for which the author created an entire history, multiple cultures, and dozens of languages. Howard sketched out a quick back story and a rough map and then got down to writing. That he created a character that has lasted so long and become so popular is a credit to Howard’s writing and the ability to create such an archetypal character as Conan. But the roots of the stories are pulp fiction, and it shows sometimes.
These are also the original stories as written and published by Howard; not re-writes done after his death. And it’s interesting that they are presenting in order of publication. This lets you not only enjoy the stories, but get a glimpse of Howard’s development as a writer. As the forward notes, for a time Howard had to crank out Conan stories just to make ends meet. Where the early stories had almost no female characters, the later ones all have a “damsel in distress” theme featuring young women wearing nothing but wispy bands of silk. I guess even in the 30’s sex sold. But the earlier stories are pure sword and sorcery gold.
Overall, I really enjoyed these stories. Having seen the 1982 movie and read many of the re-writes and comic books I was a bit surprised at Howard’s version of Conan. He gets drunk, he takes revenge, he can be remarkably petty. But he can also be fiercely loyal, caring for his men, and as king he values the welfare of his people. These stories show all sides of the character.
I did have some problems with the reading, however. I grow up hearing the pronunciation “Cim AIR ee ah” while the reader constantly pronounces it “Cim er EE ah” A small point, but it did get to me at first. On the other hand he did a great job with the several voices in each story, and Conan consistently had a slight accent which I think went well with the character. The pacing was generally good, but I could have used just a bit longer pause between each story.
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