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The Conquering Sword of Conan by Robert E.…
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This is the third of three books that collect Robert E. Howard's original stories of Conan the Cimmerian, along with some of Howard's drafts and background material written by Howard scholar Patrice Louinet. I wrote some overall details in my review of the second book, "The Bloody Crown of Conan," so I'll simply rate the stories here:

"The Servants of Bit-Yakin" (also known as "Jewels of Gwahlur") - 3.5 stars - Conan has traveled to the kingdom of Keshan, in the sourthern jungles, in search of the fabled jewels of Gwahlur. Conan locates the ancient temple where the jewels are kept, but a rival treasure-hunter has tricked the locals of Keshan to aid him in recovering the jewels for himself. Little do any of them suspect that the monstrous servants of an ancient traveler still dwell in the ruins. This Conan story is relatively straightforward and unremarkable, though it does have a stand-out scene near the end where Conan must choose between recovering the jewels and saving a girl.

"Beyond the Black River" - 4.5 stars - Conan is a scout for Aquilonia in the Bossonian Marches, at the edge of the Pictish wilderness. He meets a settler, Balthus. Together, they seek to stop a Pictish shaman from rallying many tribes and destroying a border fortress and nearby town. Unable to stop the attack, they seek to warn the people, to give them time to flee. This is a very unusual Conan story that seems to be a disguised U.S. Western tale of settlers vs. Native Americans. Conan is a skilled woodsman and starting to resemble a civilized man himself, rather than a barbarian, in this tale. "Beyond the Black River" is sometimes cited as exemplifying Howard's philosophy of the struggle of civilization against barbarism, and barbarism's inevitable, eventual triumph.

"The Black Stranger" - 4 stars - Conan, escaping from Pictish tribesmen, has wandered far into the wilderness and stumbles upon a cave containing an ancient treasure. Meanwhile, a Zingaran noble has fled his homeland to escape a demon that takes the form of a dark-skinned man. He has set up his household in a coastal fortress nearby. Two different pirate crews arrive, seeking the treasure, and the three factions must make a temporary alliance with Conan to recover it before the Picts overrun the area. An exciting story that provides a look into the pirates and nobles of the Hyborean Age.

"The Man-Eaters of Zamboula" - 4 stars - Conan is staying in a city in Zamboula where dark-skinned cannibals roam the streets at night, capturing and eating those they can find. Conan saves a woman from the cannibals. She explains that a potion she received from an evil priest drove her lover mad. She asks Conan to assist her in killing the priest and securing an antidote for her lover. While the plot is nothing special, this story is filled with memorable scenes and images, such as Conan's revenge on an evil innkeeper who allows the cannibals to take his guests in the night.

"Red Nails" - 5 stars - Conan and Valeria, a female warrior and traveler, defeat a dragon. They enter a bizarre city that consts of nothing but rooms and corridors. They stumble into the middle of a feud between two factions that has raged for decades, each barricaded in its own quarter of the city/building, sending out parties to try to capture, torture, and kill members of the other faction. This is the only Conan story to earn a 5-star rating from me, for its inventive setting, its excellent rendering of a dystopia and the decline of "civilized" man. It's also notable for including a woman who is far more capable than Howard's typical female characters.

The book also includes two drafts of an unpublished, perhaps unfinished, story that does not feature Conan directly, "Wolves Beyond the Border" - 1.5 stars. Gault, an Aquilonian border ranger, stealthily witnesses a ceremony where a Pictish shaman exchanges the minds of a captured Pict from a rival tribe and a great serpent. He observes a caucasian man there, before he shoots at the shaman and is forced to flee. Later, when reporting to a border fort, he realizes that the commander of the fort is the caucasian man at the ceremony and is secretly in league with the Picts. This story, like "Beyond the Black River," seems to be inspired by U.S. Westerns, but it feels incomplete (perhaps it is). ( )
  jrissman | Mar 24, 2015 |
Here's Conan in all his gloriously unedited best written by the originator Robert E. Howard. Not only do you get the final volume of Howard's Conan compilation, but contained within are "Beyond the Black River", "The Black Stranger, and "Red Nails", which many claim are the three best Conan pieces written by Howard. I'll vouch for "Red Nails" because of the strong characters. There's no doe eyed female goggling over Conan or overblown villain just pure purpose set to pen.
Conan is the ultimate action character who truly knows how to live in the moment. So kick back and let the warrior in you live through the conquering sword of Conan. ( )
  revslick | Aug 20, 2012 |

This is the third and final volume of the Conan series from Del Rey (though Wandering Star had a hand in it too). The critical aspect of these books is that they present the Conan tales in the order REH wrote them using the words he put into them, without heavy-handed editorial intrusion. If you are familiar with the old de Camp edited series of Conan stories, you’ll recall that they are arranged according to what de Camp decided they fit into Conan’s life. Further, de Camp made quite a few interpolations to link up stories, as well as re-writing non-Conan stories to include the Cimmerian. All that is gone, you get REH and nothing but REH.
  DaveHardy | Jan 9, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345461533, Paperback)

–Harry Turtledove

In a meteoric career that covered only a dozen years, Robert E. Howard defined the sword-and-sorcery genre. In doing so, he brought to life the archetypal adventurer known to millions around the world as Conan the barbarian.

Witness, then, Howard at his finest, and Conan at his most savage, in the latest volume featuring the collected works of Robert E. Howard, lavishly illustrated by award-winning artist Greg Manchess. Prepared directly from the earliest known versions–often Howard’s own manuscripts–are such sword-and-sorcery classics as “The Servants of Bit-Yakin” (formerly published as “Jewels of Gwahlur”), “Beyond the Black River,” “The Black Stranger,” “Man-Eaters of Zamboula” (formerly published as “Shadows in Zamboula”), and, perhaps his most famous adventure of all, “Red Nails.”

The Conquering Sword of Conan includes never-before-published outlines, notes, and story drafts, plus a new introduction, personal correspondence, and the revealing essay “Hyborian Genesis”–which chronicles the history of the creation of the Conan series. Truly, this is heroic fantasy at its finest.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:01 -0400)

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"... includes never-before-published outlines, notes, and story drafts, plus a new introduction, personal correspondence, and the revealing essay "Hyborian Genesis" which chronicles the history of the creation of the Conan series."

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