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The Conan Chronicles by Robert Jordan
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When I bought this hardcover omnibus volume of the first three Robert Jordan novels published in the Tor Books Conan series, I thought that I had already read all of them in individual mass-market paperbacks. But when I finally got around to cracking the book, inspired by a perverse nostalgia for the first one Conan the Invincible (certainly one of the earliest Conan books I had read, back in my teens), I discovered that I had never read the other two. So I went ahead and ripped through them; they're far from heavy reading.

In all three novels, Jordan makes competent though uninspired use of the Hyborian settings: Shadizar, Belverus, and Aghrapur. Karela the Red Hawk and her sometime lieutenant Hordo are original Jordan characters who provide continuity between the first two stories. Karela is a red-haired bandit who seems to have been suggested in part by the Red Sonja comic book character (herself derived from Robert E. Howard's Red Sonya), and Jordan builds a sexualized frenemy relationship between her and Conan.

The author's particular erotic fantasies are on evident display consistently through this collection. In each of the first two books, a sorcerer-villain establishes mind control over a beautiful woman and has her strip naked as a demonstration of the effect. (In the third, the lascivious wizard simply asserts supernatural dominance over a woman already nude.) Although it's not Conan's most frequent approach, he obtains sex through presumed consent in all three stories, i.e. he forces himself on a woman who is overtly upset with him, and offers to stop if she tells him to--which she doesn't. In these episodes, the sex is also construed as something the woman in question "owes" to Conan for her misbehavior.

The third novel Conan the Unconquered involves the "Cult of Doom," which makes it appear rather derivative from the John Milius and Oliver Stone cinematic Conan story that had reached screens the year before Unconquered was published. The villain in this case, though, is not Thulsa Doom (pilfered by the movie from Howard's Kull stories), but a necromancer named Jhandar. The megalomaniac warlocks that Jordan throws against Conan are in fact disappointingly uniform.

Even among the Tor Conan books, these are merely passable entries, outclassed by many of the later ones.
3 vote paradoxosalpha | Jan 9, 2018 |
As a dire hard fan of Conan (Own everything published since the 30's from Comics to the Dark Horse series.) Jordan is ok. A bit sterile for my taste. I get the sense that he wanted to run with the novels....but they are way too tame for what Conan should be. ( )
  Joe73 | May 9, 2017 |
The best non Howard Conan stories. ( )
  GSB68 | May 19, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312859295, Hardcover)

Three of Robert Jordan's best Conan novels have been collected in this omnibus volume, rich with the splendor and adventure of bygone ages. In Conan the Invincible, the young Conan and Karela, a sexy outlaw, outwit the necromancer Amanar and confront the Eater of Souls. In Conan the Defender, the mighty warrior challenges the magic-spawned Simulacrum of Albanus. And in Conan the Unconquered, Conan saves a beautiful young woman from the sorcerous Cult of Doom.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:46 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Conan the Invincible: Less than nineteen years old, and new to the snares and enticements of civilization, the young Conan must join forces with Karela, a dangerously seductive female bandit, to storm the palace of Amanar, a supremely evil necromancer, and confront the dreaded Eater of Souls. Conan the Defender: As revolution brews in the shadowy streets of Belverus, Conan braves the traps and treacheries of the Royal Palace of the Dragon. Pursued by the luscious and shameless Sularia, the mighty warrior challenges a magic-spawned menace that cannot die: the invincible Simulacrum of Albanus. Conan the Unconquered: Conan defies the sorcerous power of the Cult of Doom for the sake of a beautiful young woman known only as Yasbet. From the glory of fabled Aghrapur, capital of Turan, to the demon-haunted wastes of the Blasted Lands, Conan proves himself the greatest hero of a bygone era of high adventure.… (more)

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