The People of the Black Circle (The Essential Conan #2) ★★★☆½

peopleoftheblackcircle (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The People of the Black Circle
Series: The Essential Conan #2
Author: Robert Howard
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 220
Format: Hardcover



4 stories involving Conan. While not exact, they do seem to move backwards in time, so while he’s king of the Hetman in the first story, by the time we get to the final story he’s a Sword for Hire.

Conan fights something, whether wizards, peoples or monsters, rescues nearly naked women and usually makes off with a boatload of treasure.


My Thoughts:

I wasn’t sure how this Conan read would go so soon after the first instalment. Thankfully, moving away from a full novel to shorter, more serialized stories worked rather well.

The first thing I noticed is just how well Howard can write. While the Conan stories are not in any way deep character sketches, Howards writes him in such a way that while sparse doesn’t feel flat. Conan was a real barbarian and Howard brings that to light with a deft touch. He also describes things in such a way as to evoke whatever emotion he is going for in the scene. He knows how to describe things precisely so as to guide you yet it never fell into purple prose territory either. It was a delicate tightrope and I thought he did a fantastic job.

However, the short story format fails us the readers. While all varying enough that they aren’t identical, in either scene or foe, the overall plotlines run almost along identical tracks. That wouldn’t be a problem if you read one story every other month or so. But reading 4 in a matter of weeks, well, it becames a little difficult to ignore.

Overall, I am pretty pleased with Conan and how this Essential Series is working out. I’ve got one more to go and then I think I’ll be satisfied with having tried this particular Hero out.



bookstooge (Custom)





11 thoughts on “The People of the Black Circle (The Essential Conan #2) ★★★☆½

  1. OlaG says:

    I’m glad it’s working out for you 🙂 Though I think I’ll stay away from this particular barbarian and his adventures, I really enjoyed Pratchett’s take on him as the geriatric, incredibly stubborn Cohen 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. HCNewton says:

    As I recall, I had similar problems with the Conan short stories – didn’t I just read this one, like 40 pages ago? But on their own, good stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bookstooge says:

      Yeah, they are really the same story with details like location and enemy type (wizard, pirates, horsemen, etc) changed around. And yet, still better than 95% of the Forgotten Realms books out there 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Good that these were well written, even if they were similar plotwise!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bookstooge says:

      Sorry for the late reply. You happened to comment in that window where a complete crapstorm was happening so I didn’t have the oomph to comment here or anywhere else. Now that things have settled down…

      I am surprised and very happy at the quality of these. They are NOT Forgotten Realms quality. Which is just so nice to have a good surprise, you know?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice to hear that it isn’t so bad after all. The similarities between stories sounds inevitable and expected to be honest in regards to this hero too hahah Hopefully the next one will have something special to surprise you with.

    Liked by 1 person

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