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Conan the Conqueror
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Group Reads > Conan the Conqueror / The Hour of the Dragon: April 2013 Group Read

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Michael | 305 comments We haven't read a Conan story in a while, so I thought we might go with the novel length Conan the Conqueror or The Hour of the Dragon, depending upon which version you have available.

I've set three different volumes from the Bookshelf as "To Read", so you should be able to find a print version easily enough. It's also available online HERE at Project Gutenberg.


message 2: by Michael (last edited Mar 17, 2013 05:51PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Michael | 305 comments I guess I should introduce this book for those members who aren't familiar with it - no spoilers, unless you really know nothing of Conan's history, in which case SPOILERS!

This is Robert E. Howard's only full length Conan novel and finds our barbarian hero now the king of Aquilonia, but uneasy lies the head that wears a crown, and there are those plotting against the usurping Cimmerian who would see him dethroned. Cue hacking, slashing, black magic and general ass-kickery!


message 3: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 542 comments It's also available on WikiSource to read online:
http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Hou...


message 4: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 542 comments King Conan gets to draw on all his wonderful history. It's as if all his previous adventures were in preparation for this fight. Of course, he has a lot of very convenient help, (view spoiler) but it's certainly a fun adventure. Conan at his best.


message 5: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 542 comments It's been a while since I've visited Hyboria, so I thought a map would be nice. There's one here:
http://hyboria.xoth.net/maps/hyboria.gif

I'll paste it below, but it might not be big enough to see well.



message 6: by Werner (new)

Werner I've read The Hour of the Dragon and own a copy; it's in my omnibus volume, The Essential Conan by Robert E. Howard . So if that's the title picked, I'll be able to join in on this discussion (though I'll have to take a hiatus for about a week, while my oldest daughter and her hubby are visiting us from Australia).

This is actually the first Conan tale by REH that I ever read, though I'd read a pastich novel before.


message 7: by Vincent (last edited Mar 18, 2013 02:01PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Vincent Darlage | 633 comments That's a terrible map, btw. It's riddled with errors from L. Sprague de Camp, and doesn't fit with all of REH's descriptions. This one fits REH better and more correctly: http://hyboria.xoth.net/maps/vd_hybor...

description

It does have one error (and it has been corrected, but the website didn't update the map with the corrected one - Punt and Keshan are incorrectly flipped on this one).


Michael | 305 comments Thanks for the links, Jim :-)

Werner, the version I've read was edited by LSdC, but I'll be reading the version in the Centenary collection, which I think is REH's original version (or closer to it).


message 9: by Werner (new)

Werner Michael, Karl Edward Wagner, who compiled The Essential Conan, took his The Hour of the Dragon text from the one published in Weird Tales in 1935-36. So that should be the original REH version as well.


message 10: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 542 comments The countries that seem to be in about the right positions to get an idea of where he traveled. I don't recall Punt or Keshan even being mentioned in this book. I suppose I should also point out that there are some OCR errors in the WikiSource text just in case anyone can't stand to see them. Somehow I managed to struggle through & enjoy it, though.
;-)


message 11: by Phil (new)

Phil (klarkashton) | 4 comments Vincent wrote: "It does have one error (and it has been corrected, but the website didn't update the map with the corrected one - Punt and Keshan are incorrectly flipped on this one)"

Do you have a link for your corrected one? It'd be perfect for my upcoming RQ6 game...


Vincent Darlage | 633 comments No, but if you want to email me at vincent@tls.net, I'll send it to you.


Michael | 305 comments That's a beautiful map, Vincent. The more southerly extension of the Black Coast feels more correct, too.


message 14: by Phil (new)

Phil (klarkashton) | 4 comments E-mail sent, thanks!


Vincent Darlage | 633 comments Thanks. The other map doesn't make room for Tombalku, or for other Black Kingdoms REH mentioned, such as Atlaia and Amazon. Stygia matches the map drawn by REH, instead of the thin little strip de Camp allowed for.


Ó Ruairc | 169 comments Whoa, excellent map!


message 17: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 542 comments Today's the official start date for the group read. Let us know what you think.


message 18: by Werner (new)

Werner The Essential Conan reproduces part of a map, as a double frontispiece, that's similar to Vincent's (with Keshan and Punt in what he identified as the right positions), but only showing the lands west and level with the Vilayet Sea, and extending south to what we today would call the Horn of Africa. (Sorry I don't have access to scanning technology to reproduce it!) It's probably essentially the same one as Vincent's, and reflects the geography Howard had in mind.

Although this novel shows Conan relatively late in his career, it has the length to be really well developed, so gave me a great introduction to Conan's character. I found him a hero I could like, respect, and root for; and I was really impressed by the quality and depth of REH's world-building --it's not equal to Tolkien's (nobody's is!), but it brooks comparison with it, IMO.


message 19: by Ó Ruairc (last edited Apr 05, 2013 04:23PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ó Ruairc | 169 comments Werner wrote: "The Essential Conan reproduces part of a map, as a double frontispiece, that's similar to Vincent's (with Keshan and Punt in what he identified as the right positions), but only showing the lands w..."

True enough. Though the world Howard created is impressive, the Cimmerian is the cynosure. As the central character of Howard's world, Conan dominates every tale. On the other hand, Tolkien's world has no one character. In the Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion the worlds in which everything takes place seems to be the primary focus.


message 20: by Mohammed (new)

Mohammed  Burhan Abdi Osman (mohammedaosman) | 257 comments I have actually been saving The Hour of the Dragon but its time to read it finally.


message 21: by Werner (last edited Apr 11, 2013 07:04PM) (new)

Werner Has anyone seen the movie Kull the Conqueror, starring Kevin Sorbo? (Here's a link to the imdb description: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119484/ .) I saw it before I read The Hour of the Dragon, so when I read the novel I noticed a basic similarity in the plots/premise; the movie doesn't follow the book very closely, but has enough affinity to convince me that they must have been influenced by the book. At the time, I wondered why they dragged in Kull as the hero, instead of keeping Conan as the main character.

Interestingly, it turns out that they originally meant to do the movie as an adaptation of this book! Arnold Schwartznegger, however, who was their first choice to play Conan, didn't want to do a third Conan movie. :-( Kevin Sorbo was their next choice for the lead, but he was uncomfortable playing a role that another actor had already created (apparently because he thought he might be unfavorably compared to his predecessor). So they decided to redo the idea slightly to make it about another REH barbarian warrior tough-guy type (who also becomes a king at one point in his career).


message 22: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 542 comments That's interesting, Werner. I hadn't made that connection at all, but it makes a lot of sense. Yes, I did see the movie.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) | 20 comments I just finished this one. I thought it was the best REH Conan story that I have read, so far. My previous favorite was Tower of the Elephant. The larger scope of this story really added to my enjoyment - the story was able to move through different countries and even across the sea whereas the shorter stories usually are confined to one location. That gave a much greater sense of the world and its inhabitants.


Vincent Darlage | 633 comments Yeah, I love The Hour of the Dragon. Although "People of the Black Circle" is my favorite Conan story, "The Hour of the Dragon" is a super-close second. You're right, the scope adds to the overall fascination for the story - so much of the world was explored and expanded upon with this novel. And the history of the Hyborian age was expanded/altered from REH's "The Hyborian Age" with the addition of Acheron. It's thematically similar to "The Scarlet Citadel," but the book was originally supposed to be a British volume, and those readers would have been unfamiliar with the other story.


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L.A. Pontes (goodreadscomlapontes) | 34 comments Yeah, The Hour of the Dragon is fantastic. But Vincent mentioned The Scarlet Citadel and that's one of my favorites. The meeting with the wizard in the catacombs is great and what an interesting character he is. The way he summons the flying beast - a very fascinating being as well - that takes Conan superfast towards his revenge is great. I find it really hard to chose just one favorite Conan story, actually :)


message 26: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 542 comments Was "The Scarlet Citadel" in Conan the Usurper? If so, that was one of my first Conan stories. The Frazetta cover had Conan chained straddling a huge snake that was about to bite him. I was 7 or 8 & it was just too fantastic not to read about. The wizard was Pelais who was also imprisoned getting his mind sucked out by a flower, right? Wow! I can still remember how REH's writing impressed the vision on me.


Vincent Darlage | 633 comments Yes, "The Scarlet Citadel" is in Conan: Conan the Usurper. My first Conan story was "People of the Black Circle" in Conan the Adventurer.


message 28: by L.A. (new)

L.A. Pontes (goodreadscomlapontes) | 34 comments Jim wrote: "Was "The Scarlet Citadel" in Conan the Usurper? If so, that was one of my first Conan stories. The Frazetta cover had Conan chained straddling a huge snake that was about to bite him...."
Yeah, Pelais is the name. Great character. When the giant snake sees him, it runs away, scared to death!


message 29: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 542 comments That I could dredge up & actually spell Pelais' name correctly is a credit to REH & his ability to impress me. It's been years since I last read the story.


Vincent Darlage | 633 comments Well, it is actually spelled "Pelias," named after the king who sent Jason seeking the Golden Fleece in Greek myth. Pelias is interesting because he is one of two sorcerers who actually is a help to Conan (the witch Zelata in "The Hour of the Dragon" is the other, another point of similarity between the two stories).


message 31: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 542 comments Ah, yes, that rings a bell, too. Oh well, pretty darn close.
:)


message 32: by L.A. (new)

L.A. Pontes (goodreadscomlapontes) | 34 comments Yes, Vincent, Pelias! Thought they wrote it different in Portuguese!


message 33: by L.A. (new)

L.A. Pontes (goodreadscomlapontes) | 34 comments Zelata is an interesting one too, with her wolf and eagle. The wolf actually gives a big help in the fight against the soldiers that were molesting the witch, if I remember well.


message 34: by Fernando (new)

Fernando Neeser | 18 comments The Hour of the Dragon is, IMO, the best Conan story written by Robert E. Howard!


message 35: by Vincent (last edited Oct 30, 2019 05:53AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Vincent Darlage | 633 comments One of my favorite parts of the book is the trip to Stygia, which (if I remember right) is the only time Stygia is visited in the REH stories - it's mentioned all the time, but Conan finally goes there on-screen in The Hour of the Dragon. After all the build-up in so many Conan stories, REH does it justice and it's just as creepy as one imagines it from the other stories. Not many authors can pull that off.


message 36: by L.A. (new)

L.A. Pontes (goodreadscomlapontes) | 34 comments You're right, it"s pretty creepy. He meets that eerie vampire, Akivasha or something and also the half-brought mummy that leads him out. Pretty awesome. And the slaughter between the kitanians and the stygians is very good too.


message 37: by Frank (new)

Frank Talaber | 3 comments Lupon wrote: "You're right, it"s pretty creepy. He meets that eerie vampire, Akivasha or something and also the half-brought mummy that leads him out. Pretty awesome. And the slaughter between the kitanians and ..."

Vincent wrote: "One of my favorite parts of the books is the trip to Stygia, which (if I remember right) is the only time Stygia is visited in the REH stories - it's mentioned all the time, but Conan finally goes ..."

True one of my favs. But I like the one with the alien in the tower. Can't remember the name of that one. The alien is the last of his species. What is the name of that story? Anyone?


message 38: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 542 comments The Tower of the Elephant, IIRC. One of the first in the Lancer edition of Conan.


Vincent Darlage | 633 comments Yes, Jim is correct: "The Tower of the Elephant." Found in The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian, Conan, The Complete Chronicles of Conan, and many other volumes (see http://howardworks.com/storyt.htm#towe1 for a complete list of where that story can be found). Easily one of my top 5 Conan stories.

1) The People of the Black Circle
2) The Hour of the Dragon (AKA "Conan the Conqueror")
3) Xuthal of the Dusk (AKA "The Slithering Shadow")
4) The Tower of the Elephant
5) Red Nails


message 40: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 542 comments It's one of my favorites, too. REH did a great job throughout. It was such a wonderfully horrible & gory twist at the end, both in Conan's attitude & the rest. Pretty much perfect.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) | 20 comments Fernando wrote: "The Hour of the Dragon is, IMO, the best Conan story written by Robert E. Howard!"

I have about five of his stories left to read, including Red Nails, but so far I agree completely. My second choice would be Tower of the Elephant. The Lovecraft influence comes through loud and clear in both of those stories.


Vincent Darlage | 633 comments Have you read the draft version of "The Phoenix on the Sword"? It has some very direct Lovecraft references that ended up cut out of the final version.


message 43: by Fernando (new)

Fernando Neeser | 18 comments Vincent wrote: "Have you read the draft version of "The Phoenix on the Sword"? It has some very direct Lovecraft references that ended up cut out of the final version."

The draft version is simply WONDERFUL! I find it more canonical than final one, because the cuts Howard did were Fansworth Wright's idea, not REH's. I confesse I readed too few HPL's texts, so that I didn't notice the Lovecraft references, but I loved the more detailed references about locations and people from Hyborian Age!


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) | 20 comments Vincent wrote: "Have you read the draft version of "The Phoenix on the Sword"? It has some very direct Lovecraft references that ended up cut out of the final version."

Yes I did read it a couple years ago in the The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian collection. I'm glad to have read the draft version for the additional storyline that was cut from the early goings, although I thought the published version got right into the action more quickly. That is one of the better stories in that collection.


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