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The Weird Tradition

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Edited: Jan 9, 2018, 12:25pm Top

I'm almost finished re-reading Robert E. Howard's HOUR OF THE DRAGON. I really had forgotten how much fun the author's only novel-length Conan adventure is. Necromancy, ghouls, pirates, torture chambers, killer apes, beautiful women, double-crossings, country-spanning chases and narrow escapes - its got it all! This was actually serialized in Weird Tales over several issues in 1935-36.

For some reason, I've always remembered the older King Conan in HotD as being brooding and moody, but I must have been confusing him with Kull. In fact, the Cimmerian's mood throughout most of this novel is simply ENRAGED.

This is such great writing. REH was a born storyteller. Teach his work in high school and we'd have a nation of readers.

Edited: Jul 12, 2011, 1:47pm Top

I recently read a film reviewer contemplating the frenetic-looking "reboot" Conan movie due out later this summer, and I had to agree with him that the real desideratum is a King Conan movie--based on Hour of the Dragon, of course--starring a now-appropriately-aged Schwarzenegger (needs the work, doesn't he?) and directed (again!) by Milius.

Jul 12, 2011, 1:53pm Top

Here's a nice little article I just found while doing some digging in response to your post: Gateways to Geekery: The Conan Mythos.

While mostly concurring with the piece, I disagree with the author on his parting shot regarding Conan comics. I think the whole Dark Horse run has been very high-quality, and while I have some fondness for the old Roy Thomas Marvel Conan, the Busiek-Truman books leave it in the dust. In particular, I thought Conan: Black Colossus was really great.

Jul 12, 2011, 4:23pm Top

It's funny, but in a conversation I had with another REH fan the other day, I said that I thought the best possible Conan film would be an adaptation of The Hour of the Dragon. As for the new Conan movie, while I thought that Jason Momoa did ok with his role as Khal Drogo in HBO's GAME OF THRONES, I'm not too sure how I feel about a Hawaiian playing a barbarian from northern climes. Time will tell, I guess. He does have the "pantherish" mode down, at least. Count me amongst those who had no problem with Arnold as Conan, at least physically.

"Gateways to Geekery: The Conan Mythos" does an ok job, but I'd have to say that the ONLY entry point should be Howard's stories. They remain extremely potent. Of course, one has to first find and then READ them. Maybe Nooks n Kindles will help? :)

The Dark Horse versions I've seen have varied in quality, but I'd say that they generally range from good to great. Not bad! The Thomas/Smith, Thomas/Buscema Marvel tales remain essential, if you want to go the comics route. Was HotD ever adapted by any of the above?

Jul 12, 2011, 6:08pm Top

Jason Momoa as Conan has turned me off the entire project. I'll probably see in one day on the Sci-Fi channel but I'll be skipping it in the theaters. I didn't really watch Game of Thrones but my wife did so I caught bits and pieces and I just think the man is a horrible actor. And yeah, he doesn't exactly match up with my mental image of Conan either.

While Dark Horse is doing more direct adaptions I still prefer the old Marvel comics. They were very fun even after they jumped the shark. I have been buying the DH SSoC reprint trades as they come out but I am behind in my reading of them.

Edited: Jul 12, 2011, 7:19pm Top

There's a useful wikipedia article on Hour of the Dragon. It also notes that the Marvel comics adaptation was serialized over Giant-Size Conan #1-4 along with #8 and #10 of Savage Sword of Conan. (The latter are in the Dark Horse reprint The Savage Sword of Conan, Vol. 1.)

Edited: Jul 13, 2011, 9:51am Top

I must admit, Thulean, that when I mentally picture Conan, it's usually the John Buscema version (eclipsing even Frazetta's), which I think was not too far off from Howard's descriptions, anyway!

Thanks for that HotD wiki article, too, paradoxosalpha - I'll have to see if I can track those issues down. That Gnome Press edition they posted on the site looks mighty tasty!

Jul 13, 2011, 9:41am Top

> 7
when I mentally picture Conan, it's usually the John Buscema version (eclipsing even Frazetta)

Well, ditto that, actually.

Aug 8, 2011, 1:30pm Top

>1 KentonSem:

You wrote:

"REH was a born storyteller. Teach his work in high school and we'd have a nation of readers."

Amen to that.

>3 paradoxosalpha:

I love Gateways to Geekery, but I had to disagree with that particular one re: the idea that the best place to start with the Conan stories was the John Milius film. It's a good movie, but to me the notion of starting anywhere other than with the Howard stories is kind of absurd.

>4 KentonSem:

You wrote:

"Of course, one has to first find and then READ the {Howard Conan stories}."

Which, thank Crom, is much easier to do now than it was a decade or two ago.

Edited: Aug 8, 2011, 6:44pm Top

Interestingly, Conan's Cimmeria is supposed to be - very approximately - the equivalent of modern-day Ukraine, which is a heck of a lot closer to Austria than Hawaii. So, Arnold is not too far off geographically! Seeing the trailer for the new film did make me want to re-read some Conan, as I mentioned above, so at least it served a useful purpose! I saw a sneak preview of the first three minutes or so, and it seemed pretty tedious, unfortunately.

Aug 8, 2011, 7:51pm Top

Yeah, the Cimmerians are supposed to be sort of a proto-Celtic people whose land was roughly in the same location as the northern British Isles and southern Scandinavia & are therefore definitely much more European than Pacific Islander. If one really wants to spit hairs, however (and why the heck not!), it could be pointed out that Momoa's mom is primarily of Northern European descent, so the casting of him as Conan may not be as big of a deal as it appears on the face of it.

In the final analysis, if 1 person in 100 that sees the film goes back & discovers the fiction of Howard and his Weird Tales colleagues, I will consider the Great Cosmic Scales of Justice to be balanced. :)

Aug 8, 2011, 11:49pm Top

"In the final analysis, if 1 person in 100 that sees the film goes back & discovers the fiction of Howard and his Weird Tales colleagues, I will consider the Great Cosmic Scales of Justice to be balanced."

Good point!

Edited: Aug 9, 2011, 12:15am Top

I would like to say good on Del Rey who, in addition to putting out a novelization of the film (which, I admit, I bought!), put out Conan the Barbarian: The Stories That Inspired the Movie. So right now it is possible to pick up a good, cheap Robert E. Howard collection in places like WalMart.

As for the movie itself, the previews don't look good, but I'm gonna buy a ticket and walk in with my eyes closed and my fingers crossed and hope and pray that it is worthwhile. If nothing else, the image used on the above mentioned book looks Conan-y.

Aug 9, 2011, 2:00am Top

But on the real Earth of Howard's Hyborian Age, northern Europe was under the ice, and there basically WEREN'T any Europeans; the real Cimmerians were central-Asian nomads.

So I find Jason Momoa's looks to be plausibly Conan-ish...

Aug 9, 2011, 3:10am Top

>13 jseger9000:

You wrote:

"I would like to say good on Del Rey who, in addition to putting out a novelization of the film (which, I admit, I bought!), put out Conan the Barbarian: The Stories That Inspired the Movie."

Cool! Especially glad to see it has "Tower of the Elephant" (my favorite Howard story) in it.

PS I'm a sucker for movie novelizations for some strange reason. I think I always expect them to be like 2001: A Space Odyssey (which, of course, they never are).

Aug 9, 2011, 3:39am Top

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Aug 9, 2011, 7:13am Top


Aug 9, 2011, 7:18am Top

I like the Gollancz Complete Chronicles of Conan which comes in an awesome trashy black pleather cover if you get the hardcover, and seedy black vinylette if you get the paperback. It's a bit of a wrist breaker though, I can't see taking it on the plane to Worldcon with me.

Aug 9, 2011, 9:42am Top


James - REH available at Walmart. My mind is truly boggled!


"But on the real Earth of Howard's Hyborian Age, northern Europe was under the ice, and there basically WEREN'T any Europeans; the real Cimmerians were central-Asian nomads."

Bob - this is helpful, but will it help to get Momoa past the Hawaiian connection? We shall see...


Art - Conan the Barbarian: The Stories that Inspired the Movie - Glad to know that this is out! I've been so focused on editions like the Subterranean and Wildside Press ones that I don't know what's being offered to the more casual reader these days. By the way - your "desirous" blog is very cool! What made the 2001 novelization so good?


cosmicdolphin - Pleather? Vinylette? Gee whiz - what would Conan think? I'm curious - if it's complete, does it also contain Hour of the Dragon?

Aug 9, 2011, 9:50am Top

#15 - PS I'm a sucker for movie novelizations for some strange reason.

Glad to see I'm not the only one. I'll even buy novelizations for movies that weren't good, but I thought had potential. Like the novelization might fix the errors of the movie or something. It's a sickness.

I've decided I want to start picking up those Del Rey REH trade paperbacks. Glad to see they are listed as a publisher's series here on LT. That will make things easier on me.

Aug 9, 2011, 10:19am Top

> 20

A sickness indeed. In my youth I had a related malady that resulted in my purchasing about 120 Doctor Who paperbacks over the course of several years. But I got better, and traded them all for a store credit that I spent on the complete Arkham House H.P. Lovecraft.

Edited: Aug 9, 2011, 1:07pm Top

19 KentomSem

Yes it contains Hour of the Dragon. It also includes some items as verse, fragments, and drafts as well as finished stories.

It is a UK release, but available through domestic distribution in the USA.

Here is a contents list: http://conan.wikia.com/wiki/The_Complete_Chronicles_of_Conan

They also did a matching release in the same cover material called Conan's Brethren which contains non conan stories. (Kull, Brak Man Morn, Solomon Kane and Others)

Edited: Aug 9, 2011, 1:07pm Top

Much as I like the Gollancz edition. I would like something more portable for Worldcon.

Can anyone recommend particular mass market paperback editions of Howards orignal Conan stories? I want mass market copies so I can easily carry them around at the con?

Am I right in thinking that the Berkley 1977 mass market editions edited by Karl Edward Wagner are a good option?

Aug 9, 2011, 2:36pm Top

Re: REH at Wal-Mart - almost as cool as seeing Watchmen there when that movie came out.

>19 KentonSem:

I am endlessly fascinated by the interface (for lack of a better word) between classic literature (and surely it's OK to use that term to describe Howard's work now, yes?) and the media- and technology-oversaturated, won't-read-a-book-for-pleasure-if-threatened-with-a-sharp-stick-in-the-eye 21st century public, specifically by what makes a person who does not habitually do so read a story by a Howard or an H.P. Lovecraft or a Charles Dickens or whoever. Therefore, I tend to keep a somewhat closer eye on what's going in with mass-market publishing vis a vis this type of literature and what's going up on sites like Project Gutenburg and Wikisource than most do.

Thank you very much for taking a moment to check out my blog; it means a lot to me that someone from this site would do that. I have been meaning to post again for a while now but am currently working on a post where I'm trying to put the HWA's horror reading list (http://www.horror.org/readlist.htm) in some kind of hierarchical order and it's taking longer than I thought it would.

What makes the 2001 novelization so good is that it actually reads like a real novel, probably due to the fact that, instead of the usual process of movie novelization where some poor soul is handed a movie script and told, "Here's the script. Write a novel version of it. You have 1 week." (or some such thing), 2001 was, if memory serves, actually developed concurrently with the film, so that Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick actually had the opportunity to develop it the way you would a proper novel. I also love the fact that it's sort of one-stop shopping for anyone who desires an explainer for what is surely one of the more inscrutable films of the 20th century.

PS Apologies for what is probably the longest single post in the history of the LT message boards. :D

Edited: Aug 9, 2011, 5:37pm Top


I used to get a kick out of seeing the latest Hard Case Crime paperbacks out on the racks at the local Giant and Wegman's grocery store chains. Don't know if they were actually selling or not. Paperbacks seem to have nose-dived into mediocrity at such places over the past year or so, so it's nice that the CONAN movie might be providing an inroads for REH's fiction into the marketplace once again.

I've read all but 10 of the books on that HWA list. It's a pretty good one, although how Leiber's Conjure Wife could be picked over his true masterpiece Our Lady of Darkness is beyond me!

Interesting about 2001. I've never been a Clarke reader, so I've always assumed that there was a novel that came first. I love the film - still have to watch it on blu-ray, though.

Long posts are great! Keep it up! We is a literary group, after all! :)

Edited: Aug 9, 2011, 5:13pm Top

25 KentonSem

Dorchester Publishing did a lot of sell through into that chainstore environment, but with the Dorchester near self destruct in the last few months, I'm sure some of that went away. Hard Case were distributed by Dorchester, but since Dorchester pulled the plug on mass market paperback publishing, Hard Case have now moved their distribution to Titan Books.

Edited: Aug 9, 2011, 7:16pm Top

#25 - You ought to read up on the history of 2001 as a work. Clarke and Kubrick had a unique working relationship there. I don't think it's fair to call 2001 a novelization at all.

I don't look down my nose at novelizations. I have more than my fair share. But novelization implies taking someone else's idea and turning it into a book and that isn't what 2001 did.

The book is not an adaptation of the movie. The movie is not an adaptation of the book. It is a single work issued in two different editions.

Clarke put together a book called The Lost Worlds of 2001 that deals with how they worked and some ideas they were exploring that never made it into the book or movie.

Oh, this is the Conan thread... uh... Crom!

Aug 9, 2011, 7:30pm Top

(You know better than to invoke His name....)

Aug 10, 2011, 10:01am Top


Thanks for that Dorchester info - good to know what happened there.


Thank you for the 2001 info. We have it at the Library I work at - might pull it from the stacks and give it a browse.

Buy Crom, of course!

Edited: Aug 10, 2011, 1:06pm Top

>14 AsYouKnow_Bob:

Actually REH's Cimmeria has nothing at all to do with the real ancient Cimmerians. Howard's Cimmerias are meant to be proto-Celts and the descendants of the ancient Atlantians. Hawaiian is about as far as you can get from that. True there were no Europeans because there was no such thing as Europe. They most certainly were the ancestors of Europeans though. It is abundatly clear that Conan is a white guy. Either way that is going to be the least of the films problems.

From Wikipedia:

Though several later authors have referred to Conan as "Germanic-looking", Howard imagined the Cimmerians as a proto-Celtic people with mostly black hair and blue or grey eyes. Ethnically the Cimmerians to which Conan belongs are descendants of the Atlanteans, though they do not remember their ancestry. In his fictional historical essay The Hyborian Age, Howard describes how the people of Atlantis — the land where his character King Kull originated — had to move east after a great cataclysm changed the face of the world and sank their island, settling where Ireland and Scotland would eventually be located, Thus they are (In Howard's work) The ancestors of the Irish and Scottish (The Celtic Gaels) not the Picts, the other ancestor of modern Scots who Howard also wrote of. In the same work, Howard also described how the Cimmerians eventually moved south and east after the age of Conan (presumably in the vicinity of the Black Sea, where the historical Cimmerians dwelt).

Aug 10, 2011, 6:44pm Top

>24 artturnerjr:

I've ONLY read about 10 books on that list, which is one of the reasons I wanted to post; the more I write about books that I want to read, the more likely they are to be in my head when I'm at the library or the bookstore.

It's kind of a mysterious list in lots of ways (e.g. - no Edgar Allan Poe? On a list from the Horror Writers of AMERICA? Seriously?). And yeah, haven't read OLOD but it certainly sounds intriguing, particularly since I understand the plot involves Clark Ashton Smith, who is a great hero of mine. (I wonder why they didn't "cheat" and put Dark Ladies: 'Conjure Wife' and 'Our Lady of Darkness' on the list (perhaps that edition hadn't been published yet)).

>24 artturnerjr: & 27

There's a book called The Making of 2001: A Space Odyssey that's another excellent resource on all things 2001. (Actually, that reminds me - I need to add that to my LT library.)

Um... wait! Oh yeah! Conan thread! Crom! I am black-haired! Sullen-eyed! Treading the jeweled thrones of the Earth under my sandalled feet! Et cetera! Yeah!

Aug 10, 2011, 6:50pm Top

I read Our Lady of Darkness in high school, and I remember enjoying it a lot, but I recall practically none of the contents. I've recently reacquired it in the same pocket paperback edition I originally read, I suspect that I'll like it even better on a second go, since various allusions will actually be significant for me.

And, by Crom, the obligatory quaff of ale and tapping a passing wench on her luscious rump, without losing sight of the suspicious cowled figure in the corner of the tavern!

Aug 11, 2011, 12:58am Top

Re:#30 - -
Yes, of course: the Cimmerians aren't the Real Cimmerians - - it's a made-up world.
But Howard's world is shoe-horned into the empty spaces on the real world's timeline. And 10,000 or 12,000 years ago, the Ice was retreating, Europe was being re-settled; there scarcely WERE "Europeans".

And, as I understand it, the actor isn't "Hawaiian", he's multi-ethnic. I haven't the slightest problem seeing him as the protagonist in a made-up world. You want a "Celt"? He's part Irish.

Howard imagined the Cimmerians as a proto-Celtic people with mostly black hair and blue or grey eyes. Ethnically the Cimmerians to which Conan belongs are descendants of the Atlanteans, though they do not remember their ancestry.

Do we KNOW what Cimmerians or Atlanteans are supposed to look like?

(Huh. As i type this, the movie trailer just aired. He looks the part to me.)

Edited: Aug 11, 2011, 2:10am Top

#33 - He looks okay to me too, though maybe just a little too Calvin Klein model to be Conan. No biggie.

The wire-fighting 'spinning in the air while swinging a sword' is worrisome. And lets hope the actual soundtrack is better than what they are playing in commercials. Why does *every* fantasy film trailer feature slow motion action with a heavy-driving electric guitar? It'd be interesting to patch a bunch of those together.

At least they didn't make Conan's world look like Medieval Europe.

Edit: Amazon has samples from the soundtrack available. It isn't Basil Poledouris, but they were at least inspired by him.

Edited: Aug 30, 2011, 6:31am Top

>33 AsYouKnow_Bob:

So enjoy then.

Yes the actor is part white and part pacific islander. Conan is not multiracial. Momoa looks NOTHING like Conan is supposed to. He is the wrong race. I have seen people making a big ordeal about his eyes not being blue. LOL. No kidding his eyes aren't blue.

JRR Tolkien made up a world too. Lets change all that and let the Hobbits be black and the elves be Australian aboriginals. It is just made up so it doesn't matter right? Except I'm sure it would to the person who wrote it and anyone who respects the work. It is not a faithful adaption. Let me make a Marvel comics film about the Black Panther played by a white Russian guy. It is cool right? It is all made up after all.

Yeah we know what Howard's Cimmerians are supposed to look like. He described Conan several times. They are based on the Irish, Howard was Irish American.

Howard's world was loosely based on Earth in a make believe time line. Because the glaciers were retreating at a certain time in our real world does not meant hat is what happened in Howard.

*shakes head* social-political agendas ruining everything.

Edited: Aug 11, 2011, 3:55am Top

>34 jseger9000:

"Why does *every* fantasy film trailer feature slow motion action with a heavy-driving electric guitar?"

I blame the Matrix. I know it sounds lame but every action film since then has had to copy its style. We have been plagued by over a decades worth of shit thanks to that film.

"At least they didn't make Conan's world look like Medieval Europe."

That is the thing though. If you had ever read the stories you would realize that parts of Conan's world were inspired by medieval Europe. It was not the barren dust and sand and old brick walls depicted in the comics. There are knights in full plate with banner topped lances and all of that. It certainly isn't Dungeons & Dragons based though like you would think based on the new trailers with the stupid Rose McGowan character and her out of place magic.

Edited: Aug 11, 2011, 9:07am Top

Conan is not multiracial. Either you have not read Howard or you are being dishonest. Momoa looks NOTHING like Conan is supposed to. He is the wrong race.

A made-up world of 10,000 years ago.

He is the wrong race.

I don't know as the modern "races" were fully evolved yet; certainly it's extremely doubtful that the blonde Nordic "race" was in place, as Asgard was (or was quite recently) still under the Ice. Conan belongs to made-up tribe; 10,000 years ago, they probably didn't resemble modern Europeans any more than more than a Hawaiian/German/Irish/Native American guy does today.

Hell, Arnold varied more from Howard's description than the new guy does. Were you complaining as vociferously about the decision to cast Arnold as Conan, because HE didn't match Howard's description?

(Could the new guy BE a worse actor than vintage 1982 Arnold?)

"Dishonest"? Really?
Black hair, heavily-muscled physique: good enough for me. I don't think the script OR the Howard stories actually hang on the protagonist's eye-color. I'd be more interested in the guy's acting abilities. Your mileage obviously varies.

And if you've read the shooting script, there's probably more wrong with the movie than casting a non-Cimmerian in the lead (...and it's hard to cast them, there aren't many of them in SAG...).

Edited: Aug 30, 2011, 6:31am Top

Conan's eye color is important to the character.

Momoa does not have black hair, he has brown hair. His hair color if just as wrong as Arnolds's.

Yeah, they should have died Arnold's hair. I agree.

Howard's world contains what becomes Europe and people live there with no ice age. No Nordic blonde race? What about the Asir and Vanir? You haven't read Howard have you?

Jason Momoa can not act his way out of a paper sack. Have you never seen Baywatch or Stargate Atlantis?

I know he is a made up character. Everyone is aware of that. So it is cool re remake Shaft with a white guy? A Black Panther movie with a Mexican dude? How about Charles Saunder's mythological Africa based S&S character Imaro? We can make him into a Hawwaiian guy? This stuff is part of who the character is.

Aug 11, 2011, 12:13pm Top

Aside from possibly not having blue eyes - and wouldn't it be a simple trick to give him blue eyes via contacts or something like that? - my main concern is that Momoa might be a bit too "pretty boy" to play Conan. While he's always a hit with the wenches. REH often describes the barbarian as being "scarred". So, I can maybe let the Hawaiian thing go, but I don't want to see the mascara-eyed male model look that Momoa brought to the supposedly savage Khal Drogo in GAME OF THRONES.

I suspect that the worst part of the new film will be an overindulgence in CGI, although as I mentioned earlier, I saw the first several minutes featuring Conan-as-a-lad and it just seemed uninspired.

Unless I hear that CONAN is unexpectedly faithful to the stories, I'll wait for the dvd.

Aug 11, 2011, 12:21pm Top


You can't get around race when you get into REH's writing - it's always there in the historical background, or as a theme or a description. Sometimes valid and interesting, sometimes not. Certainly not done in such a way as it gets in the way of that super-powered storytelling technique. Still, I'm sure that none of that was even a blip on the radar for the people making the movie.

Aug 11, 2011, 12:26pm Top

#31 and # 32

I'll cheat a bit and post my short LT review of Our Lady of Darkness:

This novel features the culmination of Lieber's ideas about the supernatural, which he had previously explored in his short fiction since the 1940's. Here we find 1970's San Francisco vividly invoked. Leiber's logical yet absolutely unsettling theories about paramental entities and the strange geometries of "megapolisomancy" are a wonder. Especially memorable are the "writer's mistress", which makes for a most unique and scary monster, and the first appearance of thing on Corona Heights, which is simply chilling. One of the all-time great horror novels by a true master of the weird tale. Plausible and terrifying!

Clark Ashton Smith does play a role, but I'll say no more here, BY CROM!!!

Edited: Aug 11, 2011, 2:16pm Top

#41 - Man, I really need to read Dark Ladies. So far I'm only familiar with Fritz Leiber from the excellent, excellent Fafhrd and Gray Mouser stories, but I've picked up any other book of his I come across in the used bookstores.

#'s 35-40 - Just from the previews, it looks like there is already so much that is off about the movie, a beautiful, Hawaiian Conan is the least of the problems, but is it just me or does he have a weird looking, cro-magon forehead?

And if they can't remember a simple, but important element like making sure Conan has blue-eyes, it will just be a sign that nobody cared about the details. I think what this movie is missing really, is a director with the amount of control John Milius had. That original movie wasn't strictly R.E.H. either, but he had a vision and he pursued it and he got what he wanted.

Having said all that, I'm still going to go see that probable train-wreck, and I always wait for Netflix. On the off chance it is good, I'd like to see a series of Conan movies.

#36 - I blame the Matrix. I know it sounds lame but every action film since then has had to copy its style.

There is so much I blame on The Matrix. I never mind piling more on top. I never got the hype surrounding that movie, except for the style. It seemed awfully similar story-wise to Dark City, released a year earlier.

Aug 11, 2011, 3:32pm Top

>42 jseger9000:

Dark city was a much better film too.

Edited: Aug 13, 2011, 10:35am Top

Thulean at #35: Conan is not multiracial. Either you have not read Howard or you are being dishonest. Momoa looks NOTHING like Conan is supposed to. He is the wrong race.

Well, actually, it's not really an either/or choice, because there's a third option that you seem to be overlooking: Maybe other people aren't as emotionally invested as you are in the "racial" background of the actor that Hollywood has cast as Conan.

More than one person has told you that they don't see this as a deal-breaker. OK, your mileage varies: clearly, this is important to YOU. That does not mean that we're either ignorant OR dishonest. You're insulting people on the internet about a question of taste.

#38: Conan's eye color is important to the character.

Cite, please?
The ONLY person I can think of for whom their EYE COLOR is important to the character would be if they were doing a biopic about Liz Taylor. (OK, maybe Sinatra. Or maybe Paul Newman...)

OK, how about this? Suppose we're talking about a different movie, a swashbuckler about Prince Rupert. Now, Rupert was an Actual Person - but offhand, I don't know his eye color. Suppose somebody told you that they refused to see the movie simply because the actor cast as Rupert had the wrong-colored eyes?

Here's a tip for you: People can disagree about the minutia of pop culture without the person who disagrees with you necessarily being either ignorant or a liar. Kicking around our favorite characters/ stories/ movies goes more smoothly without reaching for personal insults.

Because this? "Either you have not read Howard or you are being dishonest."

That there is what we refer to as a violation of the TOS.

Friend, you're talking to somebody who might be the only guy you'll ever meet who has looked into Robert Howard's boxing stories. You might want to re-calibrate your sense of who you're talking to before you shoot your mouth off like that.

"...or being dishonest."

Now, you know fully well that's completely uncalled for: you might think about retracting that.
(I'm actually a little prickly about strangers on the internet insulting me.)

Edited: Aug 13, 2011, 11:40am Top

Frazetta's Conan, the version I know from the '60s.


The new movie poster

Thulean: "Momoa looks NOTHING like Conan is supposed to. He is the wrong race."
AsYouKnow_Bob: So I find Jason Momoa's looks to be plausibly Conan-ish...

Aug 13, 2011, 5:21pm Top

> 45

_Bob, I think you may safely rest your case.

Edited: Aug 13, 2011, 6:02pm Top

Points well made, all around. Remember that we are all mutually linked by our love of the literature first and foremost, right? I still find Momoa to be a bit too purty to be Conan, but at least the film makers aren't claiming to have made the definitive version or anything like that. I'll probably ignore the new film as easily as I did the cinematic Solomon Kane. Maybe someday I'll just watch all of the REH adaptations in one marathon session, enjoying whatever good bits there are to be found.


Besides the boxing, I also love Howard's westerns!

Edited: Aug 13, 2011, 6:33pm Top

>44 AsYouKnow_Bob:

"Well, actually, it's not really an either/or choice, because there's a third option that you seem to be overlooking: Maybe other people aren't as emotionally invested as you are in the "racial" background of the actor that Hollywood has cast as Conan. "

And that is perfectly fine for those people who don't care. No where am I telling anyone else that they have to care. Just because some people may not care does not mean that he is in fact not the wrong race. But since you have read Howard then I assume you know damn well that the characters racial background in an important aspect of him. And his eye color is mentioned often enough to be a recognizable defining characteristic of the him as well. The fact is that Momoa looks nothing like Conan. Besides he obvious racial difference he has the wrong color hair and eyes. You would think that both would have been an easy fix, no? That at least would have brought him closer.

What about the people who were mad that the guy cast to play the lead in Avatar the Last Airbender was the wrong race? Or the lead in Prince of Persia? Where they just emotionally invested? I notice you are ignoring my questions about if it was reversed with white actors playing the role of non-white characters.

More than one person has made it clear that they think that Momoa is the wrong race.

As far as being dishonest you sat here and said that there was no Nordic based race in Howard's Conan tales. As someone who has read so much of Howard then I expect that you full well new that there was.

"I don't know as the modern "races" were fully evolved yet; certainly it's extremely doubtful that the blonde Nordic "race" was in place, as Asgard was (or was quite recently) still under the Ice."

Did you not say this? Am I attributing someone else quote to you? You know Howard's work and you are trying to tell me that the Asir do not live in Asgard, the Vanir in Vanaheim and the Hyperboreans in Hyperborea?

Still, I retract my comment as I wish no ill will.

>46 paradoxosalpha:

Thanks for your valuable input.

Aug 13, 2011, 6:21pm Top

I'll tell you what. Instead of arguing BS here I'll start rereading all of the Conan tales and make a post here noting every time race or Conan's eye color is brought up and exactly where.

Edited: Aug 13, 2011, 7:08pm Top

Thanks to #46 for seeing my point.

Thulean at #48: Still, I retract my comment as I wish no ill will.

Thank you.

OK, not to spend to much time arguing Conan on the internet:

I also said "But Howard's world is shoe-horned into the empty spaces on the real world's timeline. And 10,000 or 12,000 years ago, the Ice was retreating, Europe was being re-settled; there scarcely WERE "Europeans".

I'm reasonably sure that Howard was fully aware of the Ice Age, and that the Europe of 10,000 years ago was a relatively New World being recolonized in his Hyborian Age; therefore -as I said above - I'm not sure that modern concepts of "race" are applicable. We fully agree on your statement that "Actually REH's Cimmeria has nothing at all to do with the real ancient Cimmerians." That's because Howard's "races" are mostly made-up.

If you agree that Howard's geography doesn't need to map the real geography, and agree that Howard's tribes don't need to map to the actual tribes - then why are you so deeply offended that I don't object to Momea's looks?

No where am I telling anyone else that they have to care.
No, but you told me that I was either ignorant or dishonest for not agreeing with you.

I never said that you weren't entitled to your opinion; what I said that Momea's looks weren't a deal-breaker for me. That seems to have offended you.

...-you sat here and said that there was no Nordic based race in Howard's Conan tales....You know Howard's work and you are trying to tell me that the Asir do not live in Asgard, the Vanir in Vanaheim and the Hyperboreans in Hyperborea?

No, all that I'm saying is that as the Ice has only just retreated - in Howard's world AND in ours - I would find it hard to believe that the new settlers of these lands - moving back from either the Mediterranean OR from Atlantis - would be any less dark-complexioned than Franzetta's Conan. (How light or dark are today's Lapps or Inuit?)

As it happens, the movie may or may not be terrible (and note that you're berating me over a movie that neither of us has yet seen); but your position that "Momoa looks NOTHING like Conan is supposed to. He is the wrong race" is only one opinion; if nothing else, you'll note that Momea is noticeably lighter than Frazetta's Conan.

Edited: Aug 13, 2011, 6:48pm Top

>49 Thulean:

"then why are you so deeply offended that I don't object to Momea's looks?"

"That seems to have offended you."

I'm not offended by your position at all. It seems to be quite the reverse in fact.

"No, but you told me that I was either ignorant or dishonest for not agreeing with you."

No, not for not agreeing with me. I posted why above. Are you still suggesting that none of Howard's races were based on Nordic peoples? That is not a matter of agreeing with me or not, they obviously are based on that. Hell they are named after the types of Nordic gods.

I have only seen 4 reviews of the film and three of them have been bad. I hope the fill does do well though, I'd like to see a resurgence of S&S films.

"OK, not to spend to much time arguing Conan on the internet"

Where else are people going to argue about Conan? In real life? :P

Edited: Aug 13, 2011, 7:21pm Top

I've been enjoying the debate here. As long as we can keep disagreements from getting personal, this is exactly the kind of thing that I created this group for, and which I've been hoping to see.

How about posting some of the more relevant reviews of the film here? Especially those that compare the film to its source. I've been waiting for Ebert's, although I'm really looking forward to the ones from Video Watchdog and Videoscope..

Aug 13, 2011, 7:42pm Top

>52 KentonSem:

There are these two reviews at the Conan movie Blog if you haven't seen them yet.


Aug 13, 2011, 7:43pm Top

Two things:

If nothing else, this has encouraged me to finally track down and watch The Whole Wide World;
and I've discovered that Howard's essay on his Hyborian Age is available on-line:

Edited: Aug 13, 2011, 7:54pm Top

>54 AsYouKnow_Bob:

The Whole Wide World is an awesome, awesome film. Literally everyone is great in it but especially Vincent D'Onofrio as REH.

And thanks for the link.

Aug 13, 2011, 9:42pm Top

>53 Thulean:

Al Harron (Taranaich) over at Conan the Movie Blog is an e-pen-pal of mine; he's an impressive Howard scholar and all-around good guy. Thanks for giving them a shout-out - I'm sure they appreciate it. :)

Aug 14, 2011, 5:07pm Top

#45 - I will say Momoa looks more like my mind's-eye version of Conan (which is a combination of Frazetta and the early Barry Windsor Smith stuff) than Arnie does. The images from the new movie look great. I especially like comparing this one:

To this one:

And this one:

(Sorry! I couldn't help myself!)

Aug 14, 2011, 7:13pm Top

That pic of Groo must made my night! I'd also forgotten about THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD. Hopefully Netflix will have it. I'll get to those reviews shortly, thanks.

Aug 14, 2011, 10:21pm Top

#58 - Who doesn't love Groo? (Except for everyone else in the comic.)

Netflix DOES have The Whole Wide World. It's somewhere in my top five right now.

Aug 15, 2011, 4:58pm Top

Semi-OT (about Howard but not Conan specifically): Does anyone know if Conan's Brethren is out of print already? If so, that's kind of crazy, isn't it? It just went to press a year or two ago!

Aug 17, 2011, 4:44pm Top

>57 jseger9000:

That photo was intentionally made to look like the Frazetta painting. And I think they failed. They really do not look that alike other than the yellow background. And while Frazetta paintings are awesome they are not REH's Conan.

I am looking forward to Robert Rodriguez take on live action Frazetta in the Fire and Ice remake though!

Aug 17, 2011, 6:30pm Top

#61 - I am looking forward to Robert Rodriguez take on live action Frazetta in the Fire and Ice remake though!

Oh! I didn't know about that. And I LOVE Robert Rodriguez! Though it does make the promised Sin City 2 and 3 seem less and less likely to ever happen.

Edited: Aug 17, 2011, 7:12pm Top

> 61 Fire and Ice remake

Really? Oh, so mote it be!

Edited: Aug 17, 2011, 8:03pm Top

He also has the rights for a new Heavy Metal and is working on that too. Busy guy. lol

If these happen, and happen well, he will be my new favorite film maker. :D

Aug 17, 2011, 10:07pm Top

>61 Thulean:-64

Add my name to the Robert Rodriguez Fan Club roster. I thought FROM DUSK TILL DAWN was the most underrated film of the 90s (that and BAD LIEUTENANT, anyway). When he has a decent script, he's just about unstoppable.

Aug 18, 2011, 9:05am Top

Aug 18, 2011, 2:35pm Top

>66 KentonSem:

Conan the Adventurer is being re-released on DVD now. I picked up the first volume a couple weeks ago but I haven't sat down and watched any of it yet.

Edited: Aug 18, 2011, 2:48pm Top

Well, Ebert slagged it, and he's probably the single mainstream critic whose opinion I actually value. Doesn't sound too good, but at least there does seem to be some sort of visible facial scar on Momoa, so I can sleep at night:


Conan the Barbarian
A clash of witless civilizations

Release Date: 2011

Ebert Rating: *½

By Roger Ebert Aug 17, 2011

"Conan the Barbarian" involves a clash of civilizations whose vocabularies are limited to screams, oaths, grunts, howls, ejaculations, exclamations, vulgarities, screeches, wails, bellows, yelps and woofs. I’d love to get my hands on the paycheck for subtitling this movie.

The plot involves — oh, never mind. You have your Barbarians, and they kill one another in an unending series of battle scenes. I guess Conan is the good guy, but what difference does it make? He has no cause or belief. He's driven by revenge against the sadistic Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang), who trapped Conan's father under a vat of molten iron, assigned young Conan to exert his little muscles to try to keep it from tipping, and screamed at the old man: "You will watch your child die trying to save you!"

Luckily, Conan (the muscular Jason Momoa) survives and grows up with no worse than a photogenic scar on his face, where some wayward molten iron dripped. He and his father Corin (Ron Perlman) had earlier forged his sword at the steel moltery; earlier still, the infant Conan was delivered on a battlefield by an emergency Caesarian performed by Corin's own sword on the child's mother, who survives long enough to say, "He shall be named Conan." She was so weak she lacked the breath to say, "Conan the Barbarian."

The movie is a series of violent conflicts. People who despair of convincing me to play video games tell me, "Maybe if you could just watch someone else playing one!" I feel as if I now have. Conan carves, beheads, disembowels and otherwise inconveniences the citizens of several improbable cities, each time in a different fanciful situation. The evil Khalar Zym and his girlfriend Marique (Rose McGowan) turn up regularly, uttering imprecations, with Marique especially focused on Conan's warrior gal pal Tamara (Rachel Nichols).

This Marique, she's a piece of work. She has white pancake makeup, blood red lips, cute little facial tattoos and wickedly sharp metal talons on her fingers. At one point, she blows some magic dust at Conan, and the dust turns into a team of warriors made of sand. This is a neat special effect, although it raises the question if you turn back to sand when Conan slices you, what kind of a life is that?

The film ends with a very long battle involving Conan, Khalar Zym, Tamara and Marique, a sentence I never thought I'd write. It takes place largely with Tamara strapped to a revolving wheel above a vertiginous drop to flames far below. Mention is made of a volcano, but never further explained. The entire cavern crumbles around them, big chunks of rock falling everywhere except, luckily, upon them.

"Conan the Barbarian" is a brutal, crude, witless high-tech CGI contrivance, in which no artificial technique has been overlooked, including 3-D. The third dimension once again illustrates the principle that when a movie largely takes place indoors in dimly lit spaces, the last thing you need is a pair of dark glasses.

Cast & Credits

Conan Jason Momoa
Khalar Zym Stephen Lang
Marique Rose McGowan
Tamara Rachel Nichols
Corin Ron Perlman
Young Conan Leo Howard

Lionsgate presents a film directed by Marcus Nispel. Written by Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer and Sean Hood, based on the character created by Robert E. Howard. Running time: 102 minutes. Rated R (for strong bloody violence, some sexuality and nudity).

Edited: Aug 18, 2011, 3:18pm Top

I never noticed revenge being a big motivation for Conan in print, but it seems like that's all anyone knows what to do with these action flicks.

Aug 18, 2011, 3:11pm Top

Aye - revenge and something-or-other involving the hero's father seem to provide all the motivation necessary for the contemporary Hollywooden blueprint.

Aug 18, 2011, 5:16pm Top

I got a free ticket via Fandango for the midnight showing tonight. I'll let y'all know what I think of it afterward. Hoping Rose McGowan will keep it interesting.

Aug 19, 2011, 9:50am Top

#68 - That review is a hoot!

I'll still go see it this weekend (and I rarely go to the movies). My decision to see this seems more and more like a stupidly stubborn one, flying in the face of common wisdom.

The sad thing is, if the movie bombs the executives will decide "Nobody wants a Conan movie" instead of "We should have made a good one."

#'s 66-67 - Conan the Adventurer... was that the TV series? (I'm at work right now, so can't check the YouTube clip). I think you could make a very good Conan TV series, though I doubt the one they did was an example of that.

Aug 19, 2011, 10:40am Top

I don't expect the movie to be very good; the universal pans from critics are probably well deserved. Still, I'm planning to go see it anyway.

That Conan TV series was streaming on Netflix. It was not good viewing: I couldn't even make it through a single episode.

Edited: Aug 19, 2011, 7:26pm Top

The film is absolutely horrid. It fails on all accounts. It does take seeing to believe how bad it is though. Not even fun good-bad like a film you would watch while drinking beer. I'm glad I didn't pay to see but I want a refund for the $12 I spent on popcorn and soda. :P

McGowan sucked in this film like everyone else. Only Pearlman and Lang were decent and Lang went overboard on the camp.

Aug 22, 2011, 9:27am Top

Too bad, Thulean! I was hoping you'd come back with a glowing report anyway, despite the ominous reviews.

So, let's see, some far-off future movie night, I'll have to have a marathon session with RED SONJA, SOLOMON KANE, KULL THE CONQUEROR the Momoa CONAN and lots of ale. Aye, lots and LOTS of ale!

Hope those rumors I heard of a Bran Mak Morn film will now come to naught.

Edited: Aug 22, 2011, 10:04am Top

The universal slams the movie got kept me away. I guess the new Conan will wait for Netflix after all.

Is the Solomon Kane movie bad? It was never released here in the States and I've been wanting to see it.

Aug 22, 2011, 10:39am Top


James - I haven't seen SOLOMON KANE, but check this out:


Aug 22, 2011, 12:11pm Top

Reviews are so unanimously dismal that I think I've decided not to see the new movie in the theater after all. It's money I could spend on a book, eh?

Aug 22, 2011, 4:57pm Top

I didn't think it was so bad. Just not particularly great.

A bunch of gore and topless wenches. We did a matinee so we didn't pay full price to see it. The kid playing young conan kicked ass :-)

Aug 22, 2011, 5:52pm Top

> 79

Even a matinee at today's prices can buy me a nice used book. But topless wenches are a plus.

Aug 24, 2011, 12:42am Top

I'm lobbying for Robert E. Howard's name to be added to the list of major weird authors in the groups description.

Aug 24, 2011, 8:39am Top

Good idea - especially since this thread is by far the longest one to date!

It is done.

Aug 25, 2011, 1:32pm Top

Conan the Barbarian – review

This remake of the Arnold Schwarzenegger sword-and-sorcery yarn may have replicated the original's essential elements, but is still bit of a bore


Aug 26, 2011, 1:00pm Top

#77 - Thanks for the link. I'll check it when I get home.

So I've decided not to see the movie for now (though gore and topless wenches are a plus by Crom!), but I did decide to start Conan the Barbarian: The Stories That Inspired the Movie. I've read the Phoenix on the Sword (which I wasn't too crazy about) and i'm about midway through The People of the Black Circle which is excellent.

Edited: Aug 26, 2011, 8:12pm Top

"'What’s it like to have your film flop at the box office?' As it turns out, it’s not that cool, bro, thanks for asking."

"lead actor Jason Momoa, the Game Of Thrones-bred pectoral-and-eyebrow mountain who says ..."

Edited: Sep 30, 2011, 3:15pm Top

So I went to see the movie after all, and it pretty much lived down to expectations. I actually liked the CG landscapes (which some critics panned), and the topless Bulgarian extras did fine work.

In general the acting was adequate. Momoa makes a credible young Conan. (He doesn't exhibit the personal presence I would expect of Conan once he's been an actual leader.) Lang actually made his cartoonish villain character seem somewhat complex.

Hyborian geography was invented and every way mispronounced. ("HIGH-ruh-KANE-ee-uh"? "ASH-uh-ron"? Really?) The sparing dialogue was generally lame. The motivational backstory involving Conan's father's custody of a fragment of an ancient sorcerous implement...blew chunks. As did the plot resolution (if you can call it that).

There was plenty of gore, yes. A couple of the battles went on long enough to become genuinely boring.

One of the things that got me to buy a ticket was the promise of some girl-on-altar cinematography, of which I am a diehard consumer. But they bolloxed it all up with this wheel-like contrivance that fell halfway down a crevasse and wobbled and spun while the antagonists fought on top of it and Rachel Nichols' stunt double hung from it.

Mostly, it seemed like a movie starring falling rocks.

Aug 28, 2011, 11:42am Top


Nice review! Made me laugh. The last line seems to sum up the film quite nicely, based on what I've read so far.

Aug 28, 2011, 2:25pm Top

>86 paradoxosalpha:

LOL @ "One of the things that got me to buy a ticket was the promise of some girl-on-altar cinematography, of which I am a diehard consumer."

I suggest you lobby Hollywood for a film series based on the fiction of REH's WEIRD TALES colleague Seabury Quinn - I don't think he ever passed up an opportunity to inject a scene of this nature into his stories for WT cover artist Margaret Brundage to illustrate. :D

Aug 29, 2011, 1:13pm Top

> 88 (feeling a powerful tow of thread drift)

I am a Brundage fan, natch. And yet I know of only one of her pieces which features what I would consider the unadulterated girl-on-altar trope:

This francophone site has a terrific inventory of cover scans from Weird Tales, with lots of Brundage represented. (Look at the pages for 1932-38. Brundage's covers are both tamer and less frequent in the forties.)

Does anyone know offhand of books with high-quality reproductions of pulp era weird art? I have Lesser's Pulp Art, but it doesn't focus on the weird, and I figure there must be something else out there.

Aug 29, 2011, 1:16pm Top

Oh, and back on topic, I've decided to wash the bad movie out of my brain with a read of People of the Black Circle.

Aug 29, 2011, 2:11pm Top

>89 paradoxosalpha:

"Does anyone know offhand of books with high-quality reproductions of pulp era weird art? I have Lesser's Pulp Art, but it doesn't focus on the weird, and I figure there must be something else out there."

That's a good question. I'm wondering if The Weird Tales Story doesn't fit the bill. Apparently it's illustrated, but I can't (so far) find any info on the quality or quantity of same.

Edited: Aug 29, 2011, 2:23pm Top

# 89

I have the Lesser Pulp Art book. It's not bad, but it's too short. As for high quality weird pulp art-books, I can recommend Arts Unknown: The Life & Art of Lee Brown Coye by Luis Ortiz.

Cult Magazines, from the same publisher, sounds really good, although I haven't seen it: http://nonstop-press.com/?cat=6

Centipede Press is also due to publish Coye and Hannes Bok editions in the near future (very expensive, but worth it). Their Conversations With the Weird Tales Circle also has a bunch of nice full-color cover reproductions.

There must be other worthwhile collections out there! The Weird Tales Story goes for about $22 on Amazon, but I'm not yet able to find anything substantial about contents, including artwork.

As far as thread drift, I'd like to bring up some other non-Conan REH work, but I think that deserves its own topic instead of burying it here!

Edited: Aug 30, 2011, 6:58pm Top

So ... I'm reading The People of the Black Circle (the Wagner "Authorized" edition of Berkeley/1977), and I thought I'd like to clean up the LT data around it. I went in to separate/combine, because there are several different Conan anthologies named after that (most excellent) early story.

Crom, but it's a mess in there! I separated out a few of the ones that would constitute the book I wanted, but I couldn't find the ones I had separated to combine them. Of course Conan volume 1 could mean about twenty different things, including the book I'm trying to describe. In the end, I slightly refined the disambiguation notice and slunk away thinking I might try it again when I feel more courageous. Are there any ace Thingamabrarians here who could wrangle that data?

Edited: Sep 1, 2011, 10:06am Top

Good review of the Milius Conan movie here, which really hits all of the merits, as well as some of the weaknesses of that film.

I'm almost done with the Howard Conan collection I'm currently reading. Having re-read the novelette "The People of the Black Circle," I think it would be simplicity itself to get a good screenplay out of that one. It's got just about the right character distribution and plot complication for a feature film, already being in that middle zone between the short story that needs to be padded out and the novel that needs to be cut down to movie size. It has a nice two-tiered villain structure, plenty of sorcery, and even a clever resolution of the tension between Conan and the Devi (princess). To be really faithful to Howard's vision on this one, though, it should be shot in Nepal!

ETA: See also Perschon's Conan the Destroyer review.

Edited: Sep 1, 2011, 10:15am Top

Hey, I just finished The People of the Black Circle yesterday (currently in the middle of The Tower of the Elephant, I think my favorite Conan story). If nothing else, the sub-par Conan movie has some folks reading the originals.

Sep 1, 2011, 7:38pm Top

I finished my read of The People of the Black Circle and I posted my review.

Edited: Sep 6, 2011, 8:34am Top

There's a trailer out for John Carter of Mars: http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi938384409/

It looks a lot better than Conan, likely because they haven't put out the "slow motion fighting with grinding electric guitar" trailer *yet*. Everyone is wearing clothes of course, but at least they showed JC leaping from cliff to cliff and there was a flash of a CG green Martian. The trailer has made me feel better about the film than I did.

Already there's a comment saying it looks like an Avatar rip-off. Alas.

Sep 6, 2011, 8:42am Top

> 98

Yeah, my wife's first remark on seeing that trailer was that people were wearing too many clothes. Still, I think there are some good signs, including the fact that they've kept it as a period piece rather than trying to make Carter a 21st-century American.

Edited: Sep 6, 2011, 9:17am Top


Thanks for posting your review. I'll have to dig out "A Witch Shall be Born". Really don't remember that one at all. Whatever happened to that Lance paperback collection CONAN THE DIRECT-ACTIONER?!

#97 & #98

I was wondering if someone would mention John Carter over in the Sword & Sorcery thread. It is good that it doesn't seem to have been updated for the non-Mars sequences. Jury is still out on this one, I guess.

It's funny that you mention those anachronistic heavy metal guitars in trailers for period films. They always make me grumble. The latest specimen is in the trailer for IRONCLAD.

Edited: Sep 6, 2011, 9:34am Top

Well, to be fair, symphonic orchestras are just as anachronistic for medieval and ancient stories that they often accompany.

I appreciate heavy metal and industrial music in science fiction movies. That's one of the things that made The Matrix so outstanding in its day: it broke out of the stale Star Wars-style symphonic scoring for science fiction.

Sep 6, 2011, 9:53am Top

#100 (and congratulations to our 100th post on this thread!)

At least the incongruous music usually stays limited to the trailers, but still...

As far as SF - this works because while heavy metal can only stretch back to (arguably) the 1960's before it becomes anachronistic, it is built to destroy far, far into the future.

I always wished that cEvin Key from Skinny Puppy would have made the jump into feature film scores.

Edited: Sep 6, 2011, 11:09am Top

100 - One of the things that made The Matrix so outstanding in its day: it broke out of the stale Star Wars-style symphonic scoring for science fiction.

Tries to imagine Star Wars using music that was so popular in the late 70's.... Yeah, that would have been a disaster. Listen to this if you don't believe me: Star Wars Theme - Disco version

Using 'timely' music seems like a good idea. But you forget just how quickly styles change. George Lucas (and Steven Spielberg) hiring John Williams to score those early classic movies keeps them from feeling dated.

Sep 6, 2011, 11:14am Top

> 102

The Matrix didn't use turn-of-the-millenium dance music, and I don't think that score has gotten stale, even though it's ten years old. Another science fiction movie that made good use of more contemporary music was Blade Runner.

The symphonic scoring of Star Wars was appropriate and effective, but it created an unfortunate precedent for thoughtless scoring of science fiction movies in the following decades.

Sep 6, 2011, 11:20am Top

>103 paradoxosalpha:

Bladerunner is tied with Conan the Barbarian(Arnie) as my favorite film of all time and for the life of me I cannot remember what the soundtrack sounds like.

>97 jseger9000:

The only real problem I have with the John Carter trailer, besides the over abundance of clothing, if the Thark looks a bit anorexic, doesn't it?

Sep 6, 2011, 11:39am Top

> 104

The Blade Runner score (by Vangelis) is totally worth your time!

The mix on my computer happens to be playing "Heart of the Sunrise" by Yes right now. I like the symphonic score to Star Wars fine (and the Imperial Death March is certainly an indispensable element of the modern musical lexicon!), but I do think that there was 1970s prog rock that could have served as well or better. Of course, Star Wars was never "futuristic," in that it was a "long ago" space fantasy--that's one of the reasons that the orchestral score suits it. George Lucas is sort of a latter-day Richard Wagner anyhow (second time as farce).

Getting back to Conan, I'd like to get a CD of the Poledouris score from the Milius film. When I last checked some years back it was scarce and dear. It looks like it was reissued in 2003, and is now affordable.

A quick scan of amazon turns up a couple of "Age of Conan" soundtrack albums by Knut Avenstroup Haugen that puzzle me. To what are they soundtracks? Preview listening shows them emulating the Poledouris sound.

Edited: Sep 6, 2011, 11:50am Top

>105 paradoxosalpha:

Actually, the supposedly lost masters have been found and are being re-released. I believe the 2003 re-issue was actually a re-recorded version Poledouris had nothing to do with.


This includes the soundtrack from Conan the Barbarian and Conan the Destroyer.

Sep 6, 2011, 11:58am Top

> 106

Good to know! Thanks.

Sep 6, 2011, 12:46pm Top

> 105

The "Age of Conan" Soundtracks are from the MMO Computer game. I played the game, But I don't really remember any soundtrack.

As for the game itself, The first 20 levels were pretty good. It seemed like they were going to do something kind of different in an MMO. But after you got out of that area it seemed to turn into a kind of standard MMO. Don't know if they improved it since then.

Edited: Sep 6, 2011, 1:30pm Top

#104 - I agree. The Vangelis score is very good

#105 - I do think that there was 1970s prog rock that could have served as well or better.

Now I'm imagining Tom Sawyer playing during the final Death Star run. Thanks for that.

A prog rock score to Star wars would feel dated and would have been switched out just like the one 'current' song (in any of those movies) has been: the song the band plays at Jabba's palace, which was replaced because it sounded so dated.

To the the Vangelis score for Blade Runner, it is still a score. Not a bunch of songs in the style that was popular at the time.

Not every score has to be symphonic. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, (the original) Dawn of the Dead and Blade Runner are excellent uses of non-traditional scores. But for every one that works, there is something like Flash Gordon. Now, I loved that Queen song (Flash! AAAaaa... He saved every one of us!), but there was no way you could take the movie seriously after that. (Not that that particular movie needed it.)

It depends on the movie and the director I guess. But if that John Carter trailer had started with the grinding guitars and slo-mo action (a trailer like that is coming, I'm sure), it would have been a turn off.

#106 - And to bring it back to Conan, I'm pretty sure the Age of Conan soundtrack you saw is tied to the Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures MMO PC game (Nevermind. Looks like I'm late.)

Sep 6, 2011, 1:48pm Top

> 93

Just finished sorting out The People of the Black Circle editions. There was something like seven different works in there! The only one (I think only one)) I was unable to sort out was the 1974 Grant edition.

Anybody aware of any other REH edition tangles?

Sep 6, 2011, 2:35pm Top

> 110

Hey, thanks! Too bad I'm really wanting to separate the two that you couldn't split, in particular because the current state of the data identifies my Book 2 of the Berkeley edition as Book 1 of the Grant.

I suspect Red Nails is a similar mess.

Sep 8, 2011, 1:32pm Top

Not that bad. Red Nails has been published by some small press outfits in the last couple of years. I removed and combined those. Again, The Grants are hard to identify.

Just because of The Hour of the Dragon alone, I think both the Grant series and the Berkeley series need to be moved to publishers series.

Edited: Sep 8, 2011, 2:15pm Top

> 112

Point well-taken on Hour of the Dragon!

ETA: It looks like you've already started on the Grant; I just did the Berkeley.

Apr 30, 2012, 9:56am Top

So I found out that I get Epix for free on satellite for like the last 3 days of this month. I check out the guide to see what's gonna be on and one of the first things I see is... the new Conan movie (which I DVRed, natch)! Think I'll check it out this afternoon after I get done running errands; I'll let you guys know whether I had to use the barf bag or not. :D

Apr 30, 2012, 10:32am Top

>114 artturnerjr:

Hey! It's the giant Conan thread! Looking forward to your review, Art.

Edited: May 3, 2012, 5:41pm Top

Okay, I finally watched it. Didn't need to use the barf bag, but wasn't terribly impressed, either. My friend Al Harron nailed it: "it's just a dime-a-dozen Sword-and-Sorcery film". I wouldn't normally have a problem with this, but if you're gonna but something out that is as unspeakably generic as that movie was, please don't sully Robert E. Howard's memory by calling it a Conan film.

Here's a link to Al's full review, which I am posting a link to in lieu of my own, as he said pretty much everything I wanted to say anyway:


Edited: May 1, 2012, 1:08pm Top

Thanks, Art! OK. Can we put together a list of GOOD Sword-and-Sorcery films?


Just for fun, we could vote on prospective titles.

May 3, 2012, 5:02am Top

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May 3, 2012, 8:56am Top

estereve's profile now tells us that those links are "unusual activity"!

May 3, 2012, 9:16am Top

They look like "far too common activity" to me.

May 3, 2012, 1:24pm Top

>117 KentonSem:

The only proper S & S movie (as opposed to the more high-fantasy-oriented likes of Lord of the Rings, Excalibur, etc.) I've seen that I thought was worth a damn was Milius' Conan the Barbarian.

Edited: May 3, 2012, 1:37pm Top

> 117, 121

I might add Bakshi's Fire and Ice, but it's hard to come up with a third. Even so, I'm not sure that Fire and Ice is S & S.

I wouldn't count the LotR movies, because they're epic/high fantasy, not S & S proper. Willow goes in that bin too. Although they have common antecedents, the Inklings-style Tolkienesque stuff is a separate form from Howard, Moorcock, Leiber, et al. -- until they get hybridized in the lowest-common-denominator of post-D&D fantasy slop.

Edited: May 3, 2012, 3:27pm Top

>121 artturnerjr:/122

I liked both the first CONAN and FIRE & ICE.

How you define S&S is all-important, of course, but I re-watched 1962's THE MAGIC SWORD a couple of years ago and still liked it in much the same way that certain "juvenile" novels can still be enjoyed by an adult in the right frame of mind. I hesitate to call it cheesy, because it's too innocent for that. Perhaps you know the MST3K version!


I also used to watch 1982's THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER over and over back when it played on HBO in its early days. I remember the film as being good gruesome fun. Not sure how it would hold up now.


Shall we include GAME OF THRONES?

May 3, 2012, 3:36pm Top

Well, Game of Thrones is an HBO series, not a feature film, right? I haven't seen it, though I may make it a DVD viewing project during one of the various Doctor Who hiatuses.

May 3, 2012, 3:53pm Top

HBO's GoT is very, VERY good. I'd give it honorable mention, due to its series status.

Edited: May 3, 2012, 5:38pm Top

I honestly used to like 'bad' s&s movies like Deathstalker, Barbarian Queen, CtD, Red Sonja and Hundra. As bad as they are they are still more entertaining than the new Conan movie. Maybe because I first saw them as a teenager and maybe partly because I didn't have any expectations for them like I do for a Conan movie. With the exception of Destroyer of course but Destroyer is not THAT bad in my opinion.

May 3, 2012, 6:10pm Top

> 126

I thought Red Sonja was perfectly awful. But Hundra I hadn't even heard of before your mention. If it were available streaming from Netflix, I'd probably give it a try.

For sword & sorcery movies that derive their "merit" (such as it is) from their sheer awfulness, I'd mention Wizards of the Demon Sword and Time Barbarian.

May 3, 2012, 8:32pm Top

The Barbarians is good for some cheap laughs.


May 4, 2012, 1:44am Top

I walked out of the cinema after half an hour of Red Sonja. Only time in my life I've done that.

Edited: May 17, 2012, 11:10am Top

>77 KentonSem:

I know that Ramsey Campbell has written movie novelizations in the past, but I had no idea that he wrote one for Solomon Kane! Might have to keep an eye half-peeled for it.


May 20, 2012, 3:44am Top

>129 anglemark: Really? I'm surprised. Perhaps, like Thulean, I watched Red Sonja as a teenager, along with the Conan movies, and didn't have any expectations. The only movie I've ever felt short-changed by in a theatre was the first Resident Evil movie. But I still didn't leave... :-)

This has been an interesting thread, despite looking as though it was going to descend into a small number of people taking each other's posts to pieces ad nauseam for a while. Delighted to see that it didn't stay there. Glad I read it all today!

Oct 23, 2012, 6:38pm Top

I just finished reading and wrote my review of Conan and the Emerald Lotus.

Oct 24, 2012, 8:16am Top

>132 paradoxosalpha:

A fine sword-and-sothery tale, then? Just out of curiosity, I'd like to see a list of all post-REH novels.

Oct 24, 2012, 9:05am Top

Well, I'd say Emerald Lotus was good, but not fine.

There were 43 novel-length pastiches in the Tor series alone. So there must be more than fifty all told.

Oct 24, 2012, 9:39am Top

>134 paradoxosalpha:

Thanks - I had no idea there were that many! If you take the original REH tales and add the comics, magazines, post-REH novels, movies, cartoons, action figures, slurpee cups, etc., etc... it's pretty astonishing. That reminds me that I still haven't seen the most recent CONAN movie (discussed in depth somewhere above). It's available for streaming on Netflix. I'll get to it sooner or later.

Edited: Oct 24, 2012, 1:04pm Top

> 135 I'll get to it sooner or later

Yeah, no hurry. ;-)

A Conan completist could certainly fill an entire shed. I try to keep my collection in one shelf of a bookcase (ETA: plus one long comics box), but I'm failing.

Oct 24, 2012, 7:41pm Top

I've been gradually filling a shed ;-) I'm only short about 5 of the TOR series.

Jan 10, 2013, 6:41pm Top

The February 2013 issue of Fortean Times has the article "Robert E. Howard: The Lost Celt" Angeline B. Adams and Remco Van Straten.

Feb 28, 2013, 9:52am Top

I just read and reviewed Conan the Bold.

Edited: Feb 28, 2013, 10:03am Top

>139 paradoxosalpha:

Perhaps such writing is under the influence of cinematic revenge drama tropes.

Astute observation. Modern action cinema in particular seems stuck in a perpetual revenge with father/mother fixation motif.

Apr 16, 2013, 7:32pm Top

I just read and reviewed Conan the Valiant.

Edited: Oct 1, 2013, 4:06pm Top

So, I was mucking around on YouTube the other day and I discovered that someone has uploaded complete episodes of the entire 1990s Conan the Adventurer animated series. I hadn't known about it at all, since it aired during a period when I didn't watch TV, which also happened to be the closing twilight of the Saturday a.m. animated children's show programming block.

Wow, it's bad! Conan has a family revenge/rescue backstory. (They've been turned to stone by evil sorcerers who are apparently in the employ of Valusian serpent men, whom Conan must drive "back into another dimension!") He's got a talking "baby phoenix" companion. My wife heard it from the other room and asked, "Is that Orko?" "Yes," I replied glumly. The banter among the heroes is like the dregs of silver age comic book dialogue.

It probably seemed even worse because I had just watched the little "Lords of Light" documentary on Thundarr the Barbarian, a far better series. While Thundarr did rip off Conan, Planet of the Apes, and Star Wars, it did so with some aplomb, and it aimed at an older audience. The infantilization of Conan with the actual REH trademarks in place was stomach-churning.

Oct 14, 2013, 12:49pm Top

This Conan retrospective sounds pretty good:

Conan the Phenomenon


Mar 10, 2015, 11:58am Top

I just read and reviewed J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert E. Howard and the Birth of Modern Fantasy, a LibraryThing Early Reviewers selection. (See my review for my thoughts.)

Mar 10, 2015, 12:31pm Top

>144 paradoxosalpha:

You make an especially good point near the end about D&D and the hugely influential gaming industry.

Mar 10, 2015, 1:09pm Top

Yeah, if you go and look at mass-market fantasy paperbacks now, it's amazing how many of them are explicitly rooted in D&D's Forgotten Realms, or in World of Warcraft, or in Magic: The Gathering (!), or any of a dozen other game settings. And that's to say nothing of the vast literature that simply takes for granted the synthesis of Appendix N as the baseline of contemporary fantasy fiction.

Mar 10, 2015, 1:42pm Top

>146 paradoxosalpha:

I had all but forgotten about the influence of Appendix N! I wonder if that's how I was originally pointed in the direction of "Manley" Wade Wellman, back in my adverturin' days.

Mar 10, 2015, 8:00pm Top

>144 paradoxosalpha:

Nice review (which I see is the #1 "hot review" on LT right now - congratulations!). It sounds like Parsons is very much an outsider looking in on fantasy literature and the various geek subcultures that it has spawned. Perhaps he should have spent some time hanging out here at the WT before finalizing his book - we could have schooled him properly on his topic of choice. :)

Mar 10, 2015, 9:04pm Top

>146 paradoxosalpha: And I've heard more than one author interview say they cut their creative teeth on setting up game scenarios and DMing. Then there's all those authors that started out on gaming fiction.

>147 KentonSem: It's been a long time since I've looked at a D&D book. Is Appendix N the list of works that inspired the Gygax et al? If so, that's like the artesian spring of the modern fantasy river.

Mar 11, 2015, 4:34am Top

Appendix N opened my eyes to everything there was out there that wasn't Tolkien. It was basically my shopping list for a couple of years in my late teens.

Mar 11, 2015, 8:42am Top

>149 RandyStafford:

Is Appendix N the list of works that inspired the Gygax et al?

Right - it was a section in the 1979 DM's Guide. I had already been reading REH & HPL by then, bu there were some intriguing new names to check out on that list. I believe that Gygax wrote the original edition, including Appendix N.

Mar 11, 2015, 8:46am Top

>148 artturnerjr: It sounds like Parsons is very much an outsider looking in on fantasy literature and the various geek subcultures that it has spawned.

The book has the flavor of a dissertation, and I can't help but wonder if the topic was pandering to his adviser's interests more than expressing his own. The superhero bit could be either a bone thrown to his adviser, or (more likely, I think) the part he really wanted to write, but had to shoehorn in.

Mar 11, 2015, 8:47am Top

>149 RandyStafford:

Yes. Click the link in 146 for the full text of Gygax's recommended fantasy reading.

Mar 11, 2015, 9:43am Top

In my review, I cited:
"Howard's racism illustrates that he had already constructed a fantasy world long before he wrote the first Conan story," Parsons remarks (69), in what I take to be a rather incisive observation, appropriately contextualized.
To put it more concisely than Parsons did, Howard's fantasy was not an expression of his racism, his racism was a manifestation of his capacity for fantasy.

Mar 11, 2015, 10:07am Top

...Howard's fantasy was not an expression of his racism, his racism was a manifestation of his capacity for fantasy.

That's an intriguing way to look at REH's ideas on race. Are you saying that fantasy allowed him to exaggerate various racial histories in service to his stories, whether for ill or good? Sometimes he would casually make the blatant comments that make us cringe when we read the old pulp tales, but other times he seems to be valiantly extolling the virtues of celebrating one's ancestry on a deep and phantasmal level. Wikipedia covers the issue rather well, if briefly, and notes that:

Howard became less racist as he grew older, due to several influences: admiration of the boxer Jack Johnson, listening to black story-tellers, sympathy with the underdog in any situation, and greater travel throughout Texas. Later works include more sympathetic black characters, as well as other minority groups such as Jews.10 Howard's viewpoint was also affected and softened by his correspondence with H. P. Lovecraft — whose own beliefs about race were a lot stronger — and his relationship with Novalyne Price — who was more liberal and challenged him on his racial beliefs.11 Despite any racial animosity he may have felt at any time during his life, it has been noted that, while there are several non-white characters in his works, the majority of Howard's villains are white Europeans.


Actually, I think that he was listening to black story-tellers at a very early age. I haven't read much of his correspondence with HPL, so I'm not sure how Grandpa could have softened Howard's racial viewpoint. Can anyone clarify that a bit?

Mar 11, 2015, 10:43am Top

I'm saying that Howard wasn't just an ordinarily racist Texan. He was extraordinarily racist, especially in his youth, with vivid ideas about the nobility and/or depravity of various "races" which he knew only secondhand and at great remove. While not admirable in this particular manifestation, his passionate conviction about such ideas demonstrates a more basic capacity: to take a notion and make it palpable regardless of its "reality." That power is what animates his Hyborian stories and gives them the sort of solidity missing from fantasy writers like Dunsany and Cabell.

Lovecraft's racism can also be viewed (to some extent) as an undesirable byproduct of his imaginative capability.

Mar 11, 2015, 12:03pm Top

>146 paradoxosalpha: ff.

As I've noted elsewhere, I'm reading Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom/Mars series all the way through for the first time this year. The fact that they are listed in Appendix N is most assuredly not a coincidence.


Looking through that list, I can't help but be amazed at how many of those authors' works* are now published under such prestigious imprints as Penguin Classics and/or the Library of America. In other words, all that "crap" SF/fantasy/horror that my English professors used to tell me I was wasting my time reading? Well, gee! It would seem that that's canon now.

*works by Burroughs, HPL, Leigh Brackett, Lord Dunsany, REH, and Fritz Leiber

Apr 2, 2015, 12:45pm Top

Not to take this thread too far OT, but here's a charming article on D&D that I stumbled upon on (of all places) the New Yorker's website:


Jul 22, 2015, 9:56am Top

It's been a good while since my last Conan read, and I recently re-acquired Conan: The Road of Kings, one of the Bantam "Authorized New Adventures" that I had all of back in high school, and purged when I decided that mmpbs were "beneath me" sometime in my 20s. I'm sure I read it in my teens, but I don't remember any details. At that time, I must have approached it as "just another Conan pastiche," not having the appreciation for Karl Edward Wagner that I've since acquired. I think this may be Dr. Wagner's only original Conan story. I'm starting in on it today, and quite excited about it.

Jul 22, 2015, 10:01am Top

Jul 22, 2015, 10:02am Top

>160 KentonSem:

Wow. I'm gonna have to stick with the used mmpbs. That's out of my league!

Jul 22, 2015, 10:50am Top

I'd like to read the KEW "REH" books! Wasn't it just one Conan and one Bran Mak Morn? Haven't checked pricing on used copies yet...

Jul 22, 2015, 11:01am Top

My copy of Conan: The Road of Kings cost $2.

Jul 22, 2015, 11:59am Top

>163 paradoxosalpha:

Just ordered both books in good condition for that approx. price! First edition new condition prices for each really get up there.

Jul 22, 2015, 12:59pm Top

>162 KentonSem:

I'd like to read the KEW "REH" books! Wasn't it just one Conan and one Bran Mak Morn?

Conan, Bran Mak Morn, and Ghor, Kin-Slayer:


He also liked to play in H.P. Lovecraft's and Robert W. Chambers' sandboxes, obviously.

Aug 6, 2015, 11:23am Top

I just posted my review of Conan: The Road of Kings.

Aug 6, 2015, 5:47pm Top

>166 paradoxosalpha:

Thanks for that. I'll have to get to that one someday (after I read all the REH Conan tales, of course).

Apr 9, 2016, 9:14am Top

I recently posted my latest Conan review. It's for The Sword of Skelos.

Apr 17, 2016, 5:20pm Top

>168 paradoxosalpha:

Interesting discussion starting here of Sword of Skelos author Andrew Offutt, his career as a pornographic novelist, and his son Chris Offutt's memoir regarding same:


Jan 9, 2018, 10:21am Top

My latest Conan review is for The Conan Chronicles by Robert Jordan.

Since my last post to this thread, I've also read and reviewed Conan of the Red Brotherhood, and I've purchased (Crom help me!) another Steve Perry Conan book: Conan the Free Lance.

Edited: Jan 14, 2018, 5:50pm Top

A good read, on a tip from my Other Reader:

He-Man, Conan the Barbarian, and the Secondhand Transmission of Culture

(with some parting words about the influence of Cthulhu on ancient-astrounatism)

Jan 16, 2018, 4:25pm Top

>24 artturnerjr:

I use the 2001: A Space Odyssey novel (not -ization, I think) as a point of reference in my just-posted review of Boorman's Zardoz.

Oct 4, 2018, 3:36pm Top

I've read and reviewed Conan the Free Lance, for some reason or other.

Oct 4, 2018, 4:28pm Top

>174 paradoxosalpha:

Mongo!? :-D

I'm having much more luck with El Borak in REH's Lost Valley of Iskander. These tales are pulp gold!

Edited: Oct 4, 2018, 5:23pm Top

>175 KentonSem:

Ah, I've had the Del Rey El Borak and Other Desert Adventures omnibus waiting on my shelf for years. It looks like there's at least a significant overlap in contents there. But the actual "Lost Valley" story seems to be absent from my book, unless it was re-titled.

Edited to add: Oh, it was! As "Swords of the Hills."

Oct 4, 2018, 9:24pm Top

>176 paradoxosalpha:

These are far more in the line of straight-out adventure tales, with little or no weird aspect (at least so far). They are also lean, mean and heavy on the action, with little time for the dark brooding of Conan, Kull and Solomon Kane. The South Asian locales are used to great effect, too.

Dec 17, 2018, 4:05am Top

I must admit to being lazy and not reading the entire thread, but I am intrigued about getting a collection to go with my Lovecraft one. I have one of the Omnibuses on my e-read, but after the Sony store shut down and transferred to Kobo, the Omnibus was yanked from the store list so now it only on my e-reader and for some reason I can't get it off to make a back-up.

I didn't know they re-released some Conan following the new movie. I'm curious as to which stories made it in. I looked up the older Arnold movie somewhat and leaned that they largely used "Red Nails" and "Tower of the Elephant" and that Thusla Doom was actually borrowed from Kull. After watching Mamoa's Conan my brother (who diligently read the stories and comics throughout his childhood) were talking about the two. In his mind, Mamoa makes a better "young Conan" and Arnold does a decent job "older Conan." One gripe of this though: why make up a new story instead of using the copious universe and stories and that already exist? I haven't looked into it myself, but I've heard the sentiment that Howard easily did as much world-building as Tolkien.

Edited: Dec 17, 2018, 11:25am Top

>178 WeeTurtle: the sentiment that Howard easily did as much world-building as Tolkien

I wouldn't say so, no. Tolkien invented entire languages and the density of his lore is rarely matched even in fantasy fiction inspired by it.

The "world-building" of Howard's Hyborian Age is mostly just a map that gives plausible coherence to transplanted fantasy versions of historical cultures and ethnicities. That, plus a little reference to earlier Atlantean and Valusian periods, is enough to provide atmosphere and context to Conan's adventures. But there's not the sort of invention of fantasy culture for its own sake that you see in Tolkien.

As it happens, I'd usually rather read REH. I'm more of a sword & sorcery fan than an epic fantasy devotee.

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