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Title: Conan the Valorous
Series: Conan the Barbarian
Authors: John Maddox Roberts
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Hathor-Ka, a Stygian sorceress, tricks Conan into stealing certain relics from Ben Morgh, a sacred mountain in Cimmeria. His expedition takes him across Koth, Nemedia, and the Border Kingdoms where Conan is diverted by his rescue of a chieftainess. Meanwhile, Jaganath (a sorcerer from Vendhya) is also on a journey into the Cimmerian Wilderness. In Cimmeria, the various clans are uniting against the Vanir and their allies, a tribe of lizard folk. The two armies are traveling towards Ben Morgh and proceed with a final battle. As the conflict rages on, Conan and a wizard from Khitai wage a more crucial battle inside Crom’s Cave beneath the mountain with the aid of Jaganath, Hathor-Ka, and her patron, Thoth-Amon. Ultimately, Cimmeria is delivered from outside sorcery and Conan joins a raiding party of Aesir in their journey towards Hyberborea.
Robert Howard wrote the original Conan the Barbarian stories. I reviewed a collection of them back in ’18 and thoroughly enjoyed them. So much so that I have finally tracked down a collection of Conan the Barbarian stories by two other authors, notably John Maddox Roberts and Robert Jordan (of the Wheel of Time fame). Since I finished WoT last year, I wanted to give myself a break from Jordan and so chose Roberts to begin my Conan Pastiche journey with. I’ve got 6 Conan books by him to keep me occupied for a while.
I am not sure if these stories by Roberts are in any particular order or how they fit into the original canon by Howard. Honestly, I don’t think it matters. I am treating each one as a standalone story. Howard also mainly wrote the Conan stories as short stories, so getting full length novels is going to be a different beast and we’ll see how Conan the Character handles it.
This story is about Conan getting tricked by a sorceress and being involved in a once in a millennium confluence where great powers are bestowed on one sorcerer. Conan has to go back to his homeland of Cimmeria and you find out they’re a bunch of goat herders who like to kill everyone else with their weapons. Conan isn’t the sharpest sword in the barrel but compared to the rest of the Cimmerians he’s a world traveling playboy of exquisite refinement.
There are monsters galore and the god of the Cimmerians plays a tiny part as does an Eldrich Horror. Roberts delves into the Cosmic Horror side of things with tentacled god monsters in the spaces between the planets but it is more of just a nod to the idea than any real work on the idea.
This was a decent sword & sorcery adventure tale but it didn’t hold a candle to Howard’s original stuff.