The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian

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The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian

Review #1

The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian audiobook free

What more can be said after 100 positive user reviews, with only two negatives which are either nonsensical or idealistically motivated, to convince you that this is a top quality book? The editors have done the heroic service of bringing the original Howard Conan stories back into print and in their original sequence for the first time, with no editorial tampering. Moreover, the stories are brought to life by the excellent illustrations of Mark Schultz, which shimmer with their own creativity and capture a sense of motion perfectly fitting the classic Howardian action sequence. Each section is preceded by a small vignette of the section’s climatic episode, whetting the reader’s curiosity and drawing him forward like tantalizing carrot. Top marks for the quality of the production.

As to Howard’s stories, I admit I was completely unprepared for this American Homer. Howard’s writing style is simply marvelous with a poetic flair and vividness unmatched in the pulps. He wields a rich complex descriptive vocabulary that is almost unbelievable for someone of his years. Howard was like the Shelley or Keats of fantasy literature. Howard’s writing is far more literary in quality than either A. Merrit or Burrough’s, his nearest literary progenitors. The dialogue is sharp and entertaining. Howard is master of many moods, alternating from gritty realism to the high, courtly style typical of Dunsany or Vance.

As to the individual stories, they vary in quality in terms of plot and imagination, as might be expected, but just about every one is entertaining and has its own great points. The stories are interesting for the variety of types of plot and settings employed by Howard. Some stories are large scale battles with madcap action, such as Black Collossus and Scarlet Citadel. God in the Bowl is a murder mystery styled after Poe’s Murders in the Rue Morgue, as is Rogues in the House too. Queen of the Black Coast is a take off of Ligeia. Frost Giant’s Daughter is like a phantasm, while Tower of the Elephant reads just like a typical Dungeons and Dragons adventure. The best stories are to the front of the book, while the later stories begin to repeat themselves somewhat. The editors explain that Howard was writing quickly because he needed money during that period. In particular, Pool of the Black One is really weak and simply regurgitates plot elements from Iron Shadows in the Moonlight. In both a youth is tortured by large, black hawk-faced men. In one the tormentors are turned to stone, while in the other the youth is made into a statue. In both Conan slays a corsair chieftain to become leader of a pirate ship! The best stories feature poetry and prefatory songs, like the famous preface of Phoenix on the Sword, immortalized by the Conan movie. (Know, O prince, that between the years…)

One downside of the stories to me is the pointless eroticism on nearly every page. The act of a female disrobing before Conan is tedious in its ubiquity. Howard casts a wide net, attempting to appeal to many varieties of fetishism. I’m not sure whether this represents Howard’s own motive or a general marketing device of the pulps, which were the soft porn of their day. There is no frank sexual content and some barbaric activity is appropriate, but it gets a little too sleazy in its obvious lascivious intent.

A second negative point in my opinion is a slight lack of imagination in the monsters. Almost all the badies are oversized garden creatures. Giant spiders, snakes, etc. And whatever the foe, Conan always prevails simply by hacking it to death. Never a cerebral solution to a problem. But then again, that’s Conan.

Another charming dimension to these stories is the philosophy and symbolism that are woven into the text–this is no mere fluff! There are many discussions of religion and literature that ring true in the real world. Xuthal of the Dusk has subtext about the decline of America–amazing how artists always see their own time as having fallen from a golden age. Lost Women has an interesting message that was stunningly echoed in the movie version. In short, these stories entertain at many levels.

There are reverberations of Howard throughout the subsequent fantasy literature. Vance, Leiber, all the Americans pay homage to this genius who invented Sword and Sorcery. And the similarity between Thoth-Amon’s frantic searchings for his magic ring and that of Tolkien’s Sauron is more than uncanny!

Review #2

The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian audiobook

Been reading the dark horse and new marvel comics for a while now so I thought I would give the original stories a go. Wow,never realised how good a writer and storyteller Robert E Howard was!!!. He really puts you into the story and you can really smell the danky ,musky tombs and visualise the bloody,smashed battlefields!. A master of his trade and Conan is a much more articulate,clever character than the Arnie films make him out!.

Review #3

Audiobook The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian by Robert E. Howard

Having finally gotten around to trying and loving Conan 2.0:  Kull: Exile of Atlantis , I was ready to try the finished version, and once again Robert E. Howard did not disappoint! I can honestly say I’ve never read anything quite like it!

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.

Review #4

Audio The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian narrated by Todd McLaren

Good read. Everyone should read it

Review #5

Free audio The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian – in the audio player below

To read to complete my collection

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