Bret James Stewart's Reviews > Conan: The Flame Knife

Conan by Robert E. Howard
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it was amazing

Of the Conan books I have read, this may well be my favourite.
To begin with, the presentation is nice. The cover is exciting and well done by Sanjulian, whom I do not know otherwise. Conan seems to fight an ape or ape-like creature in every book, or that has been my experience, and the artists is either nodding at this fact or simply selected it as a cool subject. The interior art is by Esteban Maroto. There are a lot of interior illustrations, making this a semi-comic book (or graphic novel for you highbrow comic book fans). The art is high quality, and the artwork helps bring the novel to life. I generally don’t read comics, so this is experience is novel for me, so I may be ranking it higher than I would if I were familiar with the genre. If you don’t like comics much, think of this as a heavily illustrated book.

This book is by Howard/de Camp, and I find these to be grittier and more “pulp” than some of the other Conan tales by other authors. The story was originally set in the East with different characters, but de Camp reworked it, basically making Conan the protagonist and changing the setting. I’m not sure how I feel about this as I am not a Conan or Howard purist, but I don’t think the end result is bad. There is a lot of action, as is to be expected, and I found this kept my interest while reading. The secondary characters were decently portrayed for the space available, and this kept me interested, as well, because I like secondary characters—they really flesh out a world and story and make the book seem more real.

The title, The Flame Knife, has to do with an assassin cult whose emblem is said blade. Conan is the leader of a band of warriors in the service of the king of Iranistan. He is commanded to capture Balash, chief of a band of men opposed to the king. However, the man is Conan's friend, so the he sets out to warn him about the king’s decree. Both groups are attacked by the cultists, who capture Conan’s chick. The two groups unite to whup cultist tail, and rescue Conan’s love interest. The barbarian tracks them to their stronghold, where he becomes embroiled in a conflict with his old enemy Olgerd Vladislav, whom I like as an antagonist because he seems more three-dimensional that many of the token evil wizards with whom Conan vies in some of the other books. Oh, Conan fights the ape, too. The stronghold of the cultists is successfully assaulted, and everyone lives happily ever after…er, maybe not, but they do achieve their objective.

I think that this book is fine for what it is—an action, low fantasy tale set in the quasi-realistic Hyborean Age. It’s nice for a casual evening’s read. I am neutral about the “lavishly illustrated” (as the cover proclaims) aspect of the book, but I think, overall, it is worth your time to read.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
February 18, 2015 – Shelved

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