Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The People of the Black Circle” as Want to Read:
The People of the Black Circle
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The People of the Black Circle

(The Dark Storm Conan Chronology #17)

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  410 ratings  ·  50 reviews
The Phoenix on the Sword is the first volume of stories about Conan The Barbarian, perhaps Robert E. Howard's most famous creation, presenting it as it was originally written and appeared in the pulp magazine Weird Tales meticulously produced to the original magazine texts. This volume contains: "The Phoenix on the Sword," "The Scarlet Citadel," "The Tower of the Elephant, ...more
Published April 1st 2007 by Wildside Press (first published 1934)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The People of the Black Circle, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The People of the Black Circle

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.69  · 
Rating details
 ·  410 ratings  ·  50 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The People of the Black Circle
Bill Kerwin

I think I'm just tired of Conan.

After all, Friz Leiber loved this novella, comparing it to the melodramatic tragedies of that great Elizabethan Kit Marlowe. And even I can still admire the compelling, propulsive prose—goodness, Howard knew how to tell a story!--a prose that pulls you right in and keeps you going. And certainly the narrative is filled with twists and turns, fraught with incident.

Part of it I'm sure isn't Howard's fault, for his writing is a victim of his own posthumous success.
May 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great story with all the hallmarks of a top notch Conan adventure. I particularly enjoyed the shadowy evil wizards with their powers of hypnosis and transmutation, and Howard's descriptions of the landscapes through which Conan journeys, with kidnapped princess in tow, to their imposing lair, remote in the high mountains. Oh, and who can forget Conan's magic girdle.

Like many of Howard's Conan stories, it can be difficult to keep track of all the awkwardly named regions, tribes and characters, wi
Debbie Zapata
Feb 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gutenberg
This 1934 story was fast and furious, with all sorts of weird events, wizards, amazing deeds of super strength and plenty of blood and guts. Robert E. Howard wrote many adventure tales featuring Conan The Barbarian. This was a new one for me, and I thought it was cool.

Where else but with Howard could I travel through the Zhaibar Pass in the Himelian mountains, on the way to Afghulistan? The trip begins with the death of a king, some plotting by an evil wizard, and the king's sister (the Devi Yas
Baal Of
Apr 02, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: whipped-cream
I wonder if Howard was scared of snakes.

I think I'm going to set this complete collection aside for a while. I feel like all the stories just kind of blend together. I get no sense of the character of Conan progressing in anyway. He is defined and established, he's the best and strongest and luckiest. The women resist him, but then eventually melt into his steel-like muscles, only to be gone again on the next story as if they had never existed. he's just a static unchanging entity, pure escapist
Michael Sorbello
Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Hill Chieftain Conan heads into the Himalayan Mountains to rescue the Vendhyan queen, as Turanians, Afghulis, and Irakzais are caught in the machinations of demonic sorcerers of the Black Circle. It's a visceral, bloody and blindingly fast fantasy adventure that keeps up a consistent pace. It's an adrenaline rush from beginning to end.
This is not one of REH’s more imaginative Conan tales. It feels like you’ve read this one before; however, it clips along nicely at a revved engine rattling pace. Swords, sorcery, ominous-dark sorcerous lair. It has all the right ingredients mixed to the perfect temperature with Howard’s furious writing.
Ben Chandler
This is *such* pulp. Conan is as barbaric as his reputation suggests - he splits skulls, leaps yelling into any fray and treats our damsel in distress with the utmost disrespect. It’s all very dated, and all very simple, with no real message other than ‘Warriors are cool’.

But it’s vivid, sincere pulp. Adjectives and adverbs fill the pages endlessly, and weirdly, it works. It’s easy to see that this is a book designed to do little more than to inspire imagination, but it does this with gusto.

Sep 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have vague memories of the Conan movie(s) from the 80s starring Arnold but beyond those spotty memories, I have had no interaction with the character or stories of Conan. And yet, I felt like I had a pretty decent sense on him just based on his permeation into popular culture. Still, I've always wanted to dive in and read some of the original books about the famed barbarian.

Rather than starting at the beginning, I started with The People of the Black Circle. I found many people claiming it to
Feb 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best one yet, by far.
David B
Oct 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As leader of a tribe of hillmen, Conan the Cimmerian competes with black sorcerers and foreign agents for possession of a princess whose ransom would enable him to save seven of his subjects from execution.

This is a rousing adventure of shifting loyalties, black magic, and tempestuous barbarian passions, all vividly rendered by Robert E. Howard’s muscular, evocative prose. Of course, all the usual Hyborian tropes are present--wizards turn into snakes, beautiful women swoon in Conan’s powerful ar
Meh. Not my cup of tea.
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"The hill-girl glanced at Yasmina over her shoulder, displaying a bold, handsome face, and then continued her cooking. Voices boomed outside; then the door was kicked open, and Conan strode in. He looked more enormous than ever with the morning sunlight behind him, and Yasmina noted some details that had escaped her the night before. His garments were clean and not ragged. The broad Bakhariot girdle that supported his knife in its ornamented scabbard would have matched the robes of a prince, and ...more
Dec 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Listened to the audio book version nararated by B.J. Harrison. Follow him on his free podcast, "The Classic Tales Podcast".

I listened to this presentation while I was driving to ReaperCon in Denton, TX. It was exactly the inspiration I needed before a fantasy miniature painting convention. I recommend this story as an excellent introduction to Robert E. Howard and his Conan franchise. All the necessary fantasy elements are included; a comely princess in distress, intense combat with depraved me
Brent Stewart
Sep 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I think of how I would write a brief outline for this story, I realize how complicated the plot actually is. There are several twists and turns for such a short work.

This is my first read of Howard's Conan creation, and as others have written, it is difficult to keep track of the name of tribes, foreign names of characters as well as the geography in such a short story. This complexity is compounded by the twists in the plot. I found myself re-reading over a few pages to make sure I had the
Seth Kenlon
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
Could this be the best Conan story?

This is a page-turner from beginning to the very last. It opens with death, and then dips into sorcery, suggests romance, and dishes out amazing chase scenes and barbarian-versus-necromancy battles. It's got everything any good game of, for instance, Dungeons & Dragons has: magic items for spell resistance, spellcasters, shapeshifters, a dungeon crawl, and minor puzzle traps.

It's brilliant, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to run some friends who haven't read this
Oct 08, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first Conan story. Nothing mind-blowing for anyone who’s read other pulp fiction, but credit where it’s due since apparently the entire genre of “sword and sorcery” sprung from Conan. Lots of swashbuckling adventure, peril at every turn, some blood and guts, a queen turned damsel in distress, that sort of thing. I listened to an audiobook and read the last quarter about a month after the first 3/4 and I didn’t miss a beat (it was meant to be read in a monthly serial anyway), so that shows the ...more
May 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Favorite Conan story to date. Granted there are a few more to go, but do like this one. There is more of an evolved plot in this story. The characters feel more fleshed out as well. This reads as the Conan I heard about growing up. The warrior who leaped into a horde of battle because he knew he could turn the tide in his favor. Plus the confidence to know he could have the girl at the end of the story and still walked away saying he would get her latter.
Ebster Davis
Finished listening to this one on my way to work yesterday evening. I felt like every beat of the story was straight out of a "B" movie, I could almost "see" the storyboard layout of every scene.

In that respect, I think this book does exactly what it sets out to do. It's a fun, fantasy-adventure with some extremely cheesy moments.
Aug 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read a large collection of Conan stories before and found them rather uninteresting. For some reason, I liked this one. What a great review, eh? "For some reason..." Enlightening! I should say, the first 7/8 the I enjoyed, but in the last eighth of the story it kind of falls apart. Hence the four stars. I'd give it 3 1/2 if I had that option. Still, pretty decent for a Conan story.
Aaron White
Feb 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would. Howard is an excellent writer and has a great knack for really evoking a scene. This edition, particularly, added much to my pleasure in this book. The thick paper and wonderful illustrations really did honor to the story.
James Hold
Oct 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the actual story (stories) as written by Robert E Howard. Neither Lin Carter nor L Sprague de Camp laid a finger on it, meaning you get the real, untarnished, unblemished, unbastardized Barbarian at his finest. That alone is reason to read and enjoy this awesome work.
May 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got to The People of the Black Circle, reading in publication order, just as I was considering giving up on Conan. This novella for me is up there with The Tower of the Elephant. The usual failings are present, but it was still a thoroughly enjoyable pulp adventure. ...more
Jun 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Possibly one of the better Conan books. It seemed really long for 150 pages. Not sure of that means it dragged or that the author got the most out of it.
Aug 04, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I listened to this an an audio presented by the Classic Tales podcast. Briefly, it wasn't my cup of tea.
This was my first exposure to the Conan stories and I enjoyed it. Lots of action and adventure. Loved the fantasy element as well. TBR list permitting, I hope to read more Conan stories soon.
Holly Lopez
Violent and sexist. Not my cup of tea.
JD Sutter
A little too heavy on the evil and sorcery for my liking.
Tom Allman
Oct 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of Howard's best!
Praveen Kumar Sharma
Adrenaline pumping action
Catherine  Mustread
Part of a series -- way to violent and sexist for me but was entertained while listening to this on Classic Tales Podcast.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Four Just Men
  • Bambi
  • Leave It to Psmith (Psmith, #4)
  • The Lifted Veil
  • The Hand of Fu-Manchu
  • The Mystery of the Blue Jar: A Short Story
  • The Inimitable Jeeves (Jeeves, #2)
  • Scaramouche (Scaramouche, #1)
  • The Undertakers
  • The Man Who Lived Backwards
  • The Ebony Frame
  • The Bell in the Fog
  • Transformation
  • Schalken the Painter
  • The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb: A Hercule Poirot Mystery (Hercule Poirot)
  • The Shadow Out of Time
  • The Bell in the Fog & Other Stories
  • Xelucha
See similar books…
Robert Ervin Howard was an American pulp writer of fantasy, horror, historical adventure, boxing, western, and detective fiction. Howard wrote "over three-hundred stories and seven-hundred poems of raw power and unbridled emotion" and is especially noted for his memorable depictions of "a sombre universe of swashbuckling adventure and darkling horror."

He is well known for having created — in the p

Other books in the series

The Dark Storm Conan Chronology (1 - 10 of 20 books)
  • The Hyborian Age
  • The Frost Giant's Daughter
  • God in the Bowl
  • Rogues in the House
  • Shadows In The Moonlight
  • Black Colossus (Conan the Barbarian, #4)
  • Queen of the Black Coast
  • A Witch Shall Be Born
  • The Devil in Iron
  • Shadows In Zamboula

Related Articles

If you love the fantasy genre, this is the season for you! Some of the biggest books out this fall promise to be epics full of magic, adventure,...
185 likes · 48 comments