Conan and the Manhunters (Conan the Barbarian) ★★★✬☆

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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Conan and the Manhunters
Series: Conan the Barbarian
Authors: John Maddox Roberts
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 197
Words: 88.5K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org & Me

Conan, imprisoned by a satrap named Torgat Khan, escapes and is reunited with a band of thieves he’s leading in the deserts southwest of Turan. Subsequently, the thieves plan on looting the Khan’s treasury, held in a vault beneath the newly built temple of the sinister cult of Ahriman, the priests of which hope to revive their ancient god. Persuaded that mystical aid will be needed to ensure success, Conan agrees on accepting the aid of a kind wizard named Volvolicus and his daughter, Layla. After stealing the Khan’s treasure, Conan is pursued by the Manhunters, a band of bounty hunters with specialized skills led by a captain even more powerful than Conan himself. Through his own skills, and those of his new allies, Conan thwarts his pursuers while preventing the resurrection of Ahriman.

My Thoughts:

In some ways this was better than I was expecting and in others it wasn’t as good. First the bad.

From the cover I was expecting Conan to fight some super duper evil monster thing. While there is a monster or two, they end up being on Conan’s side and are as much illusion as anything. Conan doesn’t fight any monsters like that. That was VERY disappointing.

The good is the cosmic horror side of things. Arhiman the evil is an entity of darkest evil, an old god and a tentacled horror. He was banished way back when from our plain of existence. A couple of his priests are trying to bring him back, but Conan’s first raid on the temple upsets things so that Ahriman won’t be brought back as a fully intelligent creature with all his memories. Instead, he’ll be a maddened maw of hunger, ready to devour the whole world. Fighting against that, how cool, eh?

I have to say, when Conan is fighting wizards is when he’s at his best. Mundane earthly problems are nice, but he really needs the “sorcery” for his sword to shine its brightest.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Conan the Bold (Conan the Barbarian) ★★★✬☆

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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Conan the Bold
Series: Conan the Barbarian
Authors: John Maddox Roberts
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 175
Words: 80K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org & Me

A young Conan’s prospects for a domestic existence are destroyed, along with his intended fiancé, by the renegade Taharka of Keshan. To achieve vengeance, the Cimmerian joins forces with a one-eyed warrior woman, Mad Kalya, also wronged by Taharka’s outlaws. The couple pursue their enemies across several nations, from Croton’s fighting pits to the Ophirian plains, overtaking them in time and again only to see Taharka slip through their fingers. The chase ultimately culminates in a battle to the death.

Kalya dies in Conan’s arms but Taharka gets his just desserts. Conan decides to keep exploring the other lands and to find out what other adventures await him.

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this story quite a bit. This was an origin story for Conan and shows how he came to be exploring lands other than Cimmeria. I suspect if I read enough Conan stories though that I’ll find multiple “origin” stories. So I’m not holding this as canon or anything.

There is some cosmic horror involved, as both Conan and Taharka are accosted by priests of elder gods and told they both have “great destinies”. Taharka allows this to go to his head and acts accordingly while Conan simply scoffs and tells the priests no one, or no thing, will ever control his actions. Of course, Taharka dies and Conan doesn’t. So much for those elder gods prescience, right? Hahahahahaa.

In terms of action, this is all over the place geographically and it keeps things fresh. We get to see a glimpse of Conan as a river pirate, hinting at his future as a real pirate later on. That is one story I’ve never read about Conan, his time as a pirate. It’s always just referred to. I hope JMR writes at least one story about that.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Conan the Marauder (Conan the Barbarian) ★★★★☆

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: Conan the Marauder
Series: Conan the Barbarian
Authors: John Maddox Roberts
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 176
Words: 80K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org & Me

The warlord, Bartatua, is uniting all the Hyrkanian tribes east of the Vilayet Sea into an army for world conquest, beginning with the resistant city of Sogaria. Meanwhile, an exiled Turanian wizard, Khondemir, plans on taking control over Bartatua’s soldiers in pursuit of his own agenda. Caught in the middle are Princess Ishkala of Sogaria, a seductive spy named Lakhme, and the enslaved Conan, who must prove his loyalty towards Bartatua to escape his fate. Everything comes to a thrilling climax near an ancient Hyrkanian necropolis known as the City of Mounds.

Khondemir raises an elder god and gets eaten by it. The warlord is killed by his mistress who had her own plans with the wizard. She in turn is killed as well. The princess is rescued by her lover and Conan escapes to go have another adventure somewhere.

My Thoughts:

Now this was a rousing Conan adventure. I think the biggest part is the villainess in this case. Yes, there’s a bad wizard, but she’s the driving force behind everything happening in this story. It was a joy to read about her machinations because it provided good fodder for Conan to struggle against.

I don’t know why this worked so well for me but man, it was the best Conan story by Maddox yet. Conan was shown in a variety of roles and there was everything from a siege to a sorcerous showdown with an Old One.

I am feeling much better about this series now. Knowing that there is the chance of stories this interesting makes it worth hanging around the average ones 🙂

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Conan the Champion ★★★☆☆

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: Conan the Champion
Series: Conan the Barbarian
Authors: John Maddox Roberts
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 260
Words: 65K



Synopsis:

From the Publisher

Stranded in the furthest northern reaches of Brythunia, Conan the Cimmerian pledges himself as the haughty and beautiful Queen Alcuina . Soon the mighty barbarian is embroiled in a war with two kings who covet Acuina’s lands and the evil wizard lilma ,who wants even more .From the blood -drenched snows of the Brythunian forests to the sorcerous Shifting Lands the battles rage .The dead rise to slay and victory can only come from CONAN THE CHAMPION .

My Thoughts:

The foray into the Shifting Lands was interesting but the rest was passe.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Conan the Valorous ★★★☆☆

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: Conan the Valorous
Series: Conan the Barbarian
Authors: John Maddox Roberts
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 219
Words: 86K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

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.

My Thoughts:

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.

Rating: 3 out of 5.