Michael's Reviews > Conan of Cimmeria

Conan of Cimmeria by Robert E. Howard
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Feb 27, 2012

really liked it
Read in January, 1983

Here's Book 2 in my re-read of the Conan series by Robert E. Howard.

The Curse of the Monolith

L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter kick things off by having Conan get stuck to a magnet on which “a monster of living jelly” is called forth by the flute of a scheming Duke (he’s either a Duke, or his name is Duke- I really wasn’t sure).

The Bloodstained God

A Howard and de Camp story that bears a lot of similarities to The City of Skulls, which closed out Book 1. I didn’t care for that story and I don’t like this one much better. In The City of Skulls, an idol comes to life and Conan throws a marble bench at it, and in this one a jewel encrusted idol comes to life and Conan throws a wooden throne at it.

The Frost Giant’s Daughter

This was a story that stayed with me over the years and it’s immediately obvious that Howard is the sole author. Here are a couple of lines that I really liked.

“Slowly through the corpses they came, as ghosts might come to a tryst through the shambles of a dead world.”

“The sharp point tore through brass scales and bones and heart, and the red-haired warrior died at Conan’s feet.”

The Lair of the Ice Worm

A slightly above average story by de Camp and Carter that offers up a wealth of possibilities for Death Metal band names: River of Death Ice, Snow Devil Glacier, Ilga, Grim Remora, etc. Also, there’s this memorable description of a half-eaten victim of the ice worm.

“Her head was gone, and with it most of the flesh of her upper body, so that the white bones gleamed like ivory in the dimming moonlight. The protruding bones had been cleaned, as if the flesh had been sucked from them or rasped off by some many-toothed tongue.”

Queen of the Black Coast

This is one of Howard’s better known stories as it introduces Conan’s soul mate, the she-devil pirate captain, Belit. Her promise to return from the afterlife if ever slain to protect Conan was used in an altered form in the 1982 Schwarzenegger film. Although their time together is brief, I like that Conan lets Belit call the shots and willingly becomes her mindless killing machine as they pillage up and down the coast. The deadly black lotus blossoms first featured in Book 1, make an appearance here.

The Vale of Lost Women

In this Howard story, Conan is war chief of the Bamulas, a black tribe of warriors. Most of the story is seen through the eyes of a young woman taken captive by natives. She entices Conan to save her, which eventually leads them to cross paths with a winged “devil from the Outer Dark”. An engaging story with a somewhat anti-climatic ending.

The Castle of Terror

This de Camp and Carter story is similar to Thing in the Crypt which they also wrote, and which began the series. Instead of wolves, Conan is pursued by lions and seeks refuge in an abandoned castle. There’s an exciting battle between 40 Stygian soldiers and a creature comprised of thousands of vaporous souls that combine to form a multi-limbed, multi-headed monstrosity. Realizing he is outmatched, Conan flees. It’s one of the better non-Howard stories.

The Snout in the Dark

Like the previous story, Howard, de Camp and Carter, give us another misty menace that must become corporeal before it can inflict any damage, except this one looks like a man with a boar’s head. And like Vale of the Lost Women, Conan starts out as a background player in the drama of others before taking center stage.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Josh (new) - added it

Josh You are a true Conan fan sir. These stories strike a chord with me because of their simplicity and eloquence. Conan will have a regular spot on my reign of books group and podcast. Check it out if you're interested.

Michael Sounds good. Where can I find your podcast?

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