Conan Wiki
Advertisement
Conan the Magnificent

Conan the Magnificent is a Conan novel by Robert Jordan, first published in 1984 by Tor books. The fifth of the Jordan Conan novels and the second story to be set during the time the Cimmerian was a thief in Zamora, it's generally accepted to take place prior to the first one, Conan the Invincible.

Synopsis[]

In the south-western reaches of the Kezankian Mountains, separating Brythunia from Zamora, one of the hundreds of wandering holy-men from the Kezankians is drawing the traditionally feuding tribes together to witness a miracle of "the ancient gods". The True Gods of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water guided Basraken Ismalla deep into the bowels of the earth towards a clutch of fire drake eggs. With blasphemous knowledge of the thaumatergical arts, Basrakan managed to hatch one of the nine eggs and bind the infant creature to his will, albeit imperfectly. Now, with an avatar of the fire god under his command, Basraken preaches a holy war against the plains dwellers of neighbouring Zamora and Brythunia.

Unfortunately, as the creature grows, his hold upon it weakens.

In secret, Basraken has his agents searching for two large rubies, known as the Eyes of Fire, which will grant him control over all nine dragons. With these gems in his possession, he can complete his unification of the hill-tribes and lead them in conquest over all who would dare oppose him.

Completing a ritual where his dragon kills three Brythunians as a sacrifice for the True Gods, Basraken receives word his spies have located the Eyes of Fire. They are in the possession of the House of Perashanid in Shadizar.

The focus switches to Shadizar, capital city of Zamora. Conan leaps across rooftops while bound for the house of Samarides, a local gem merchant. On commission from the spice merchant, Barastes, Conan intends on stealing a goblet carved from a single huge emerald inside Samarides' mansion. Almost injuring himself while gaining access inside the manor, Conan is beaten to his prize by a female thief calling herself Lyana. To discourage him from using her rope to escape, Lyana casts a black throwing knife at the Cimmerian. When he jumps back to avoid the projectile, she makes good her escape. Narrowly escaping from Samarides and his guards by going out the front door, Conan vows to avenge his wounded pride by beating the thief to her next heist.

But first he has to find out who she is.

From Abuletes, Conan learns a thief named Jamal used knives similar to the one the girl threw at Conan, before he was beheaded by the City Guard a decade ago. Jamal had a daughter and two brothers, Gayan and Hafid, who took the orphaned girl in. They were thieves as well, who used clothing and tools similar to ones Conan saw the girl employ. The girl's name was Tamira.

Conan offers a reward of two silver pieces for the city's beggars, trulls, and street urchins in finding the girl for him.

Lady Jondra of the House Perashanid is know to possess a fabulous tiara and necklace, both of which feature a large ruby placed among diamonds and opals. She is reputed to be an capable huntress. She is also famous for being unwed and the last scion of noble house of Zamora. However, her mother was Brythunian, not Zamoran, and no small few at court consider her a half-breed, much to her chagrin. Later, she snub the hopes of one would-be paramour by telling him she can marry no man unless he can equal her as an archer. Afterwards, she bests him at archery.

After many false leads, one of the street urchins locate Tamira at the Red Lion Tavern. A confrontation ensues where Conan suggests that Tamira is a virgin and wants to spend a night with her.

His real plan is to have her followed from the tavern by the urchins, to see where she goes, and report back to Conan.

A day comes and goes as Conan finds himself confronted by Barastes the spice merchant, visiting Abulete's Tavern to talk with Conan on the whereabouts of his goblet. Asking to keep their dealings private, they adjourn to Conan's bed chamber on the second floor and, unsatisfied with his explanation of events, Barastes tries to kill the Cimmerian. Conan disarms him easily and stuns Barastes with a blow to the face. Stripping him of his purse, cloak, and weapons, Conan shakes Barastes awake before throwing him out a window onto the filthy alley below.

Knowing his actions will eventually bring the city guard to Abulete, Conan arranges with the tavern-keeper to secure a horse and leave the city. As Abuletes sends a message to a man he knows, Laeta the street urchin enters and tells Conan that Tamira has been spending time at Lady Jondra's mansion. One of the urchins saw her leave a few hours past, dressed like a serving girl, along with the rest of Lady Jondra's hunting party.

Needing to leave town in any case, Conan theorizes Tamira wouldn't tag along with the noblewoman while the jewels stay in Shadizar. Taking his new horse, he sets off into the northern reaches of the Zamorian Wastes intent on catching up with Jondra's hunting expedition. (Note: Jordan uses Zamoran in his novel instead of Howard's term, Zamorian, used throughout this article)

Coming upon Jondra cornered and alone, while menaced by a pack of wolves, Conan rescues her by killing nine of them before the rest retreat back into the wilderness. With both their horses dead, the pair must walk back to Jondra's camp. Unfortunately, neither one has any water left and the Zamorian Wastes offer no chance to find a source. As the day stretches into afternoon, Jondra begins to fall ill from dehydration, so the Cimmerian carries her, against her weak protests. It's night when Conan spies the fires of a distant camp. Without knowing or caring if this is Jondra's camp, he staggers into the camp, sets the woman on the ground, and demands water, hand on his sword hilt.

Assuming the worst upon seeing Jonrda's limp form dropped onto the ground, Arvaneus, Jondra's Chief Huntsman, orders Conan to be executed. In a soft but firm voice, Jondra commands her men to stop and, after taking some sips of water, berates Arvaneus for not doing enough to try locating her before dusk. Soon, Conan finds himself earning the enmity of Arvaneus.

At a village in Brythunia near the Kezankian Mountains, a young warrior named Eldran returns from the west to find his fellow villagers all bearing arms and shields. The local priestess of Wiccana, Boudanecea, brings him to her abode where Eldran's teacher in the art of the sword, Godtan, lies horribly burned and dying. He is the only surviving member of a hunting party who went, without hearing Boudanecea's advice, into the mountains in search of the creature responsible for burning down neighbouring farms in the foothills of the Kezankians. When Godtan's scouts came upon the beast they learned, to their horror, what the priestess spoke about was true; no weapons forged by ordinary men could harm such a creature. After fleeing the dragon, most of the remaining warriors are ambushed by hillmen. Eldran's brother, Ellandune, along two other men, Aelric and Aelfric, were taken prisoner, while the rest were slain. The hillmen leave Godtan for dead.

Boudanecea guides Eldran towards the Sacred Grove of Wiccana and, using druidic magic, opens the way for Eldran to obtain the sword called Flame Slayer. Forged by great wizards almost 3,000 years prior, this legendary sword was used to defeat the beasts of fire unleashed by Acheron's foul sorcery. Empty claws on either end of the sword's groove once held great rubies called the Eyes of Fire, which gave the wielder control over the beasts. The blade is given to those who are worthy and only once in their lifetime. If the sword leaves the possession of the worthy, it magically returns to the mound in Wiccana's Grove and can only be granted to another after the proper ceremony is performed. Eldran accepts the priestess' benediction while making a list, in his mind, of the men he will lead into the mountains.

Meanwhile, back in Zamora, Conan observes the leaders of the hunting party concealing their presence from a contingent of over 5,000 Zamorian troops crossing their intended path, far ahead in the distance. Arvaneus finally challenges Conan to a duel, but Jondra forbids it. Instead, Conan suggests they cast spears for money. Conan ties Arvaneus at 30 paces and at 40 paces and then beats him at 60 paces. Incensed, Arvaneus dares Conan to hit the target at 100 paces, which he does. Not only does he win 500 pieces of silver from the chief huntsman, Lady Jondra gives herself to the Cimmerian because she could never have made such a spear-cast.

Three days later, Eldran and his riders confront Lady Jondra's hunting party on the Zamorian Plains. In speaking with them, Jondra describes the beast she's after and the Brythunians recognize it as the same beast of fire that they seek. Eldran tries to warn Jondra that the beast cannot be slain by normal weapons, but the proud noblewoman sends them on their way. However, not before Eldran out-shoots Jondra with a bow, making quite an impression on her, while focusing her wrath on both Arvaneus and Conan.

Through trained ravens, Basrakan learns of the arrival of the Zamorian soldiers and dispatches 20,000 hillmen to destroy these trespassers, as a way of proving their worth in the eyes of the True Gods.

That night, Conan stirs from his sleep after hearing the sound of hooves on gravel coming up a hillside toward camp. Djinar and his band of hillmen from Shadizar have caught up with the hunting party before charging in while they sleep, intent on killing them all and claiming the Eyes of Fire for Basrakan. Conan kills a number of them, while the hunters are awaken by the sounds of battle, and helps drive them off. He then argues with Jondra, trying to convince her to turn back.

The next afternoon, Conan tells Tamira of his intention of returning to Shadizar, with or without Jondra. Tamira promises to accompany Conan, but not until after dark, in order to avoid a confrontation with the noblewoman over leaving her service. Shortly thereafter, a Zamorian cavalry company of nearly three hundred riders arrives at Jondra's camp. Their commander, Lord Zathanides, insists it's too dangerous near the mountains at this juncture and tells Jondra return to Shadizar. Trying to make Conan jealous, she invites the general into her tent to discuss her future. Her ploy backfires, however, and the Zamorain nobleman tries to rape her.

Conan throws Zathanides out of Jondra's pavilion and disarm him, when he tries to draw out the Cimmerian. Jondra stops Conan from killing him and warns she will inform the king of his indecent assault, if he attempts use his station to exact revenge on the Cimmerian. The general takes his leave, but not before casting aspersions on Jondra's mother and Conan's heritage.

After his departure, Conan and Jondra quarrel again over returning to the city. Eventually, Conan decides on following his own advice and begin preparations to leave that night with Tamira. Discovering a saddle and waterskin already sitting by a fresh horse, however, Conan proceeds directly to Jondra's tent and catches Tamira stealing the unprotected tiara. Scooping her up and carrying the would-be theif off down a hill to the edge of camp behind some brush, Tamira kicks him as he is releasing her. He loses his footing on the uneven ground and falls atop her. An argument ensues, but Tamira beings to kiss him. After a second or two of surprise, Conan returns the favour.

The next day finds Conan already well into the mountains at sunrise and looking back at a battle on the Zamorian Plains, where a massive horde of Kezankian Hillmen are fighting against thousands of Zamorian soldiers.

On the other side of a rugged peak, Eldran watches the battle and mourns for Jondra, who he is sure the soldiers are escorting back to Shadizar. Eldran addresses his men and tells them they are now on the beast's domain. He's already feeling its evil presence growing stronger, as they travelled further into this section of the mountains. He lets them know if any wish to turn back, now is the time. None do.

Further into the mountains, Basrakan's meditations are interrupted by a group of skeptical hillmen. The priest slays them with magic and then casts a spell, which incenerates every one of their male relatives, regardless of their age, in the surrounding camp. Jbiel tells Basrakan how Shamal, one of Djinar's men sent after the Eyes of Fire, has returned. Unfortunately, he's somehow gone insane. Against the tradition of the Old Gods, which states the insane should never be molested, Basrakan orders him interrogated to find out everything he knows.

Before noon, following the massacre of the Hillmen, Jondra calls for a halt and orders her retinue to set camp, sending out her huntsmen to search for signs of the dragon. Conan spends the day on lookout duty, honing the blade of his sword, trying to spy the source of an oppressive feeling that has grown stronger the further they forged into the mountains.

Telades is the first hunter to return. He found no sign of the beast. However, he did discover another large gathering of Zamorian soldiers camped further within the mountains, to the north. Telades was able to get close enough to recognize the commander of the force; one General Tenerses.

One by one, the other hunters return, each of them finding no trace of the creature. Until, at last, Arvaneus returns with news of the beast's tracks. Despite the distance between these tracks and the sun hanging at mid-afternoon, Jondra insists on seeing her query this day and takes 20 men, plus Conan, into the mountains.

Reaching the first tracks, an oppressive feeling Conan experienced throughout the day increases. He suggests they return to camp. Still, Jondra insists on seeing the complete tracks Arvaneus claims are further along. Arriving at a small valley, with many paths leading off on each side, Jondra notices the earth becoming softer and full tracks being visible.

Just then, the dragon appears.

The beast decimates the hunting party with claws and fire; each of the hunters falling as they realize that no part of the beast is vulnerable, not even its eyes. Jondra is nearly killed by the beast. However, she and Conan are provided a chance to escape when Telades sacrifices himself to distract the monster. Jondra breaks down with guilt, and Conan carries her to safety.

Conan strides into camp carrying Jondra, and Tamira helps the noblewoman to her tent. No other hunters have returned. The remaining hunters look to Conan for leadership. He orders them to be vigilant against hillmen tonight for they leave in the morning for Shadizar. He also tells them to flee if the beast attacks.

Hillmen do attack Jondra's camp the following night. However, their vast numbers prevent the huntsmen from repealing them. Conan rescues Tamira from a hillman and escapes the camp with her. Finding her a place to hide, Conan returns to the camp to see if he can rescue Jondra. Jealous and angry that he would leave her to help a noblewoman, Tamira leaves her hiding place intent on reentering the camp to steal the gems and return to Shadizar without Conan, but is soon captured by hillmen.

Returning to camp, Conan finds the battle over and begins looking for supplies to use on the journey back toward the city. He is accosted by Arvaneus, who just arrived after wandering in the mountains since the dragon attacked. Arvaneus is insane with guilt over first leading the hunters to their fate and then fleeing instead of helping them. Accusing the Cimmerian of being a thief, he becomes enraged when he hears Conan's plan to find Jondra and return her to Shadizar. He attacks and Conan inadvertently kills him.

Before he dies, Arvaneus admitted to seeing Jondra escape the camp and hide from the hillmen. Worried that he has been so long away from Tamira, Conan goes to collect her before searching for Jondra's hiding place.

In need of water, Jondra leaves her hiding place, reluctantly because she is nude. She crawls over to a water hole across from her sanctuary. Losing her footing, she slides off the edge of a short drop. However, her ankle gets caught in a tree and she is left hanging upside down, still naked, mere yards from the pool of water.

Struggling to free herself, Jondra doesn't hear a hillman approaching the water hole until it's too late. Suddenly, an arrow strikes the hillman in the neck, killing him. Her initial relief that one of her huntsmen has saved her is dampened by the fact she's unable to free herself. Jondra's relief turns to surprise upon realizing her savior is actually Eldran.

Effortlessly, he lifts her down and carries Jondra to the pond. When he begins to speaks of how obsessed he has become towards her, she picks up a large stone and knocks Eldran unconscious. Grateful that he continues to breathe, she nevertheless robs him of his cloak, leggings, bow, knife, etc. and limps off in an attempt to get away from him.

Unfortunately, she limps right into six hillmen.

Meanwhile, Conan is tracking Tamira's departure from her hiding place and discovers evidence of hillmen activity. As he tracks them, Conan comes upon the remaining members of Eldran's band. Together, he and Eldran agree they will save both women, before slaying the beast.

Tamara and Jondra awake to find themselves chained on either side of a stone slab, completely naked. Basrakan begins magically torturing the two, stopping only when Jbeil interrupts to tell him Shamal has finally said something legible. The Eyes of Fire were in Jondra's possession all along.

Conan, Eldran, and the remaining Brythunians track the hillmen back into their assembled horde, surrounding Basrakan's temple. They know Jondra is inside the temple, while Tamira is somewhere in the huge camp. Discussing how to proceed, Eldran insists on saving Jondra, as Conan suggests they use General Tenerses and his soldiers to their advantage by tricking him into believing the hillmen force is far smaller than it seems, thus providing them with an easy victory. Eldran chooses Frydan for the task, as the men settle in to await his return with the army.

After scouring the horde for the spoils from Jondra's camp, Jbiel delivers the necklace and tiara to Basrakan. Completely focussed on the gems, he discards the remaining jewellery and prepares his binding spell, linking him with the fire drake. He orders Jabiel to place the women inside his dungeon to await sacrifice. The spell works and both women are offered as sacrifices to the beast of fire. Thousands of hillmen stream after the women and the Imallas, as they make their way into the next valley, where Basrakan performs his ritual for the True Gods.

Upon seeing both woman herded toward the valley, Conan and Eldran decide they cannot wait for Frydan's return. Slipping down into the valley, Conan and the Brythunians disguise themselves as hillmen before joining the throng.

As Basrakan completes his summoning ritual to call forth the dragon, cries are heard from the valley. The hillmen are under attack by the Zamoran cavalry. When the Imalla looks down into the sacrificial circle, he notices two men jumping over the low wall and rushing towards the women.

Conan frees Tamira, while Eldran frees Jondra, and they all turn to consider escape. Sounds of battle from the valley entrance have distracted thousands from what transpires in the sacrificial circle, although many aren't brave enough to intervene. These remaining hillmen enter the circle to stop the intruders.

But after a few minutes, the press of battle weakens and the hillmen begin to draw back. The beast of fire has arrived.

Finding himself too far away from the beast, Eldran calls out to Conan and throws Flame Slayer towards the Cimmerian. Diving and rolling, Conan avoids the fiery breath of the creature and gets close enough to strike at its face. Jerking its head back in pain, the beast exposes its chest as Conan buries the blade into it.

Rearing back on its hind legs, the dying beast topples onto Basrakan and crushes him beneath its weight.

Demoralized, thousands of hillmen break for the mouth of the valley and though he strides through them, none dares raise a hand against Conan. Head and shoulders above most of the hillmen, he sees Eldran and the Brythunians helping Jondra escape. Further away, he spies Tamira, his black cloak still covering her, swept into the entrance-valley with the flow of the throng, and out of sight.

Hewing his way back to the larger valley, Conan sees Tamira dash from Basrakan's temple. As she yells something about recovering her clothes, Conan throws her over his shoulder with a curse and heads for the hills.

Rejoining Eldran's company to escape the mountains, Conan and the Brythunians reach the foothills safely. Jondra is taken captive by Eldran as payment for her assault against him and the theft of his possessions before she was captured by hillmen. Tamira stops Conan from intervening, explaining that Jondra is in love with Eldran and would rather return to Brythunia with him than to Shadizar as a lonely, wealthy half-breed.

Tamira and Conan part from the Brythunians and ride out onto the Zamorian plain toward Shadizar.

Characters[]

  • Conan
  • Basrakan - an Imalla, or holy man, among the hill tribes of the Kezankian Mountains, intent on uniting the tribes and leading a religious war against the unbelievers (city-dwellers)
  • Jbeil - an Imalla, first acolyte to Basrakan
  • Ruhallah - an imallah, traitorous acolyte of Basrakan. Assists Walid in gaining access to an unguarded Basrakan by leading his guards away
  • Akkadan - hillman spy in the city of Shadizar for Basrakan, seeking the whereabouts of the Eyes of Fire
  • Baratses - a spice merchant of the city of Shadizar, he hires Conan to steal an emerald goblet from Samarides
  • Samarides - a gems merchant/importer of Shadizar
  • Tamira - a thief, from a family of thieves that use black silk garments, ropes and tools, a.k.a. Lyana
  • Abuletes - a tavern keeper of Shadizar
  • Jamal - Tamira's father, a thief, deceased [mentioned by name only]
  • Gayan - Tamira's uncle, retired thief [mentioned by name only]
  • Hafid - Tamira's uncle, retired thief [mentioned by name only]
  • Semiramis - a prostitute of Shadizar, working out of Abuletes' tavern. Sometimes companion of Conan...will not accept custom from him
  • Peor - not so blind beggar who plys his trade near the Katara Bazaar. Used to be a thief. On friendly terms with Conan. Member of the Brotherhood of the Bowl.
  • The Lady Jondra Perashanid - a noblewoman of Shadizar, last of the House of Perashanid, also a huntress, expert with the bow and the spear, chaste despite her age, unlike most women of Shadizar
  • Zurat - spear-man of Lady Jondra
  • Tamal- spear-man of Lady Jondra
  • Junio - march-drummer for Lady Jondra's cortege
  • Laeta - a young girl, leader of a gang of street urchins, nearing an age where she will no longer be able to pass for a boy, Conan gives Semiramis half a gold piece on behalf of the girl for Semiramis to take her under her wing, if Laeta so chooses.
  • Lady Zayella - patron who purchased Tamira's stolen emerald goblet [mentioned by name only]
  • Zarath the Kothian - fence in The Desert [mentioned by name only]
  • Lord Amaranides - aristocrat trying and failing to court Jondra
  • Mineus - Lady Jondra's Chief Steward
  • Lord Karentides - Lady Jondra's late father, a general in the Zamorian Army [mentioned by name only]
  • Camardica - Lady Jondra's late mother, Brythunian priestess of Wicanna [mentioned by name only]
  • Lady Roxana - Zamorian lady from who Tamira forged letters of reference in order to infiltrate Jondra's household staff. [mentioned by name only]
  • Arvaneus - Lady Jondra's Chief Huntsman, illegitimate son of Lord Andanezues of Shadizar
  • Urias - street urchin working for Laeta
  • Djinar - Kezankian hillman sent by Basrakan to recover the Eyes of Fire from Lady Jodra's mansion in Shadizar
  • Farouz - Kezankian hillman sent by Basrakan to recover the Eyes of Fire from Lady Jodra's mansion in Shadizar
  • Jhal - Kezankian hillman sent by Basrakan to recover the Eyes of Fire from Lady Jodra's mansion in Shadizar
  • Tirjas - Kezankian hillman sent by Basrakan to recover the Eyes of Fire from Lady Jodra's mansion in Shadizar
  • Karim - Kezankian hillman sent by Basrakan to recover the Eyes of Fire from Lady Jodra's mansion in Shadizar. Killed when Mineus smashed a vase over his head
  • Eldran - a Brythunian, seeking vengeance for the attacks of a fire-breathing beast on his people
  • Boudanecea - a priestess of Wicanna, a Brythunian nature goddess
  • Godtan - first man of Eldran's village, Eldran's swordmaster
  • Ellandune - Eldran's bother, executed by Basrakan's dragon in the opening of the book
  • Aelric - man of Eldran's village, executed by Basrakan's dragon in the opening of the book
  • Aelfric - man of Eldran's village, executed by Basrakan's dragon in the opening of the book
  • Telades - a huntsman in Jondra's retinue, odds-maker for the spear casting contest between Conan and Arvaneus
  • Mardak - grizzled, squint-eyed huntsman in Jondra's retinue
  • Sharmal - a Kezankian hillman in Djinar's party
  • Zathanides - a general in the army of Zamora
  • Haral - middle aged Brythunian warrior, riding with Eldran
  • Fyrdan - steely nerved Brythunian warrior, riding with Eldran. His brother was one of the men in the ill fated first expedition, a.k.a. Frydan
  • Walid - faithless Kezankian hill man, responsible for the death of all his male relatives in the hillman camp
  • Tenerses - a general in the army of Zamora

Locations[]

  • Temple to the Gods of the Kezankian Mountains - south-western spur of the Kezankians, between Brythunia and Zamora. Basrakan is the high priest or senior Imalla
  • Shadizar - city of Zamora, known as: "..the Wicked", "...of the Alabaster Towers", "...of the Golden Domes", "...city of venality and debauchery"
  • The house of Samarides, the gem importer/merchant
  • The Desert - the thieves quarter, or Maul, of of Shadizar, "a warren of crooked streets reeking of offal and despair"
  • The Tavern of Abuletes - one of the better taverns in The Desert
  • The Katara Bazaar - a large, flagstone paved square near The Desert. Beggars were not allowed in the square but were tolerated on the side-streets leading to and from it.
  • Lady Jondra Perashanid's estate, Shadizar
  • Red Lion Tavern - located in a craftsman district of Shadizar. The common room is in the old basement and the original main floor is now only a balcony running around the perimeter of the common room. Kitchen is still on the main floor.
  • The Lion Gate - north gate of Shadizar
  • un-named Brythunian village near the Kezankian Mountains
  • The Sacred Grove of Wiccana - Brythunian holy place

Mystical Items[]

  • Eyes of Fire - two huge rubies with the ability to grant their owner control over dragons
  • Flame Slayer - blade, blessed by Wiccana in the time of Acheron, for killing dragons
  • Enchanted Ravens - familiars that Basrakan uses for gathering information from afar about enemy movements in the mountains

Continuity Notes[]

Timelines of Conan's life that include pastiche tales uniformly place this story after "Tower of the Elephant" and before the next Jordan novel set in Shadizar, Conan the Invincible. The novel states that Conan has been a thief nearly two years (Jordan's own timeline places the Offutt trilogy and ...Destroyer prior to this novel).

Kezankian Mountains: Not all maps of Zamora drawn over time agree, but the one used at this point in the Conan novels has the Kezankians split into two ranges at the northernmost point of Zamora. The Western fork becomes foothills for a short time from about 1/3 of the way south on Zamora's western border with Corinthia. Those hills continue to the mid-way point of that border. At that point the the Karpash Mountains begin and run the rest of the western Zamorian border to Koth and beyond.

Recreational Drugs: Conan recognizes the powder in the small silver box that he finds in Barastes cloak to be green lotus pollen. He dumps it out, thinking to himself that he does not deal in such things.

Odd Plot Devices: Mineas ensures that Tamira wraps every jar of Jondra's makeup as if each was a swaddling babe yet allows her an another woman to be "staggering under the weighty panniers" all the way downstairs and out to the stables where they were to be loaded for the hunt. Would not Mineas be wise enough and Jondra wealthy enough to have a porter or two move the heavy containers? Why risk them being dropped?

Internal Errata: Ellandune, Eldran's brother, calls on Mitra to help him in his final seconds...yet the primary deity in his home village is Wicanna.

Aelric is mentioned by Gotdan as one of the members of the first ill-fated hunting party to seek the beast of fire. Gotdan states that he was taken by hillmen in the raid when the swordmaster was left for dead due to his wounds. Only a few pages later, when Boudanecea lists the hotheads who went after the beast against her wishes, Aelfric (note the additional "f") is listed. It is conceivable that both an Aelric and an Aelfric were in the initial hunting party. But, at the end of the chapter, Eldran says that Boudanecea knows that blood must be payed for Aelric, not Aelfric and for Ellandune and she agrees although she never mentioned Aelric, just Aelfric.

Fyrdan's name changes to Frydan and back again...often.

Continuity Errata: Although the novel "feels" like a Conan novel, aspects of Conan's personality in this novel cause some Howard fans to question whether this barbarian is the same one that Howard wrote about.

Conan invokes the god Erlik as if he is familiar with the deity's mythology. At one point he even thinks to himself "Erlik take him [Conan] if he did not!" Robert E. Howard states that Conan has learned the names of many of the Deities worshiped in Zamora by the time that "Tower of the Elephant" takes place, but Howard never had Conan utter the name Erlik in any of his stories nor did he ever suggest that Conan understood the god's mythology. Quite the opposite, in fact, since..."He had squatted for hours in the courtyards of the philosophers, listening to the arguments of theologians and teachers, and come away in a haze of bewilderment, sure of only one thing, and that, that they were all touched in the head. His gods were simple and understandable..." - R.E.H., Tower of the Elephant. So Conan is comfortable invoking Crom, not other gods, not even Bel, yet, just a few months prior to Conan the Magnificent. Later in Conan's life, in "The Man-Eaters of Zamboula", Howard has a supporting character state that Erlik is a Turanian deity. Conan is only about 18 during Conan the Magnificent and has never been to Turan. Granted, Shadizar likely has a temple to Erlik and many other gods, but Jordan has Conan curse/exclaim to Erlik no less than 5 times...6 if one counts the reference to "Elik's Black Shri" during the description of Conan's part in the battle between Djinar's raiding party and the huntsmen. Zamorian characters also swear regularly using the Turanian deity's name. The first story to have Conan use Erlik in his speach was "Conan and the Cenotaph" [aka "The Curse of the Monolith"] by de Camp and Carter in 1968. By that time, in most pastiche timelines, Conan was about 22 and had spent a year (or so) in the Turanian army, after rising to the rank of Captain. While I could understand Conan using the name of a god in front of a follower of that god in order to drive home a crucial point to that person, it seems strange that Conan would invoke the god when he was by himself, or in his head, or even in casual conversation with someone, for he does not believe in the deity to begin with.

Conan invokes the god Mitra on three occasions as if he is familiar with the deity's mythology. Robert E. Howard has Conan use Mitra only 7 times in all his prose, only 3 times as a curse or exclamation. The earliest time Howard has Conan use Mitra in an exclamation is in "Iron Shadows in the Moon". Conan is about 27 years old by the estimate of most pastiche timelines. The other two times Conan says Mitra as a curse/exclamation both occur after he has become King of Aquilonia. In Hour of the Dragon King Conan sits by as a squire relates the battle to him and Conan shouts "Crom, Ymir, and Mitra!" and in "The Phoenix on the Sword" King Conan exclaims the god's name once and talks about the Temple of Mitra twice. Conan muses on Mitra's strength as a god in "Queen of the Black Coast" (and, in the same breath, says that he learned of Bel in Zamora). In "Xuthal of the Dusk" Conan states that Hyborians do not sacrifice humans to Mitra. While Conan certainly could have been exposed to Mitra as a child (wandering priests of Mitra frequented Cimmeria, Pictland, etc.), the quote from "Tower of the Elephant" in the previous paragraph suggests that only a short time before Conan the Magnificent, Conan was not comfortable invoking any god save Crom and the quote from "Queen of the Black Coast" suggests that at some time prior to the end of his career as a thief he became comfortable enough with the mythology of Bel to consider him a "good (i.e. useful)" god. Mitra and his worship were certainly conceived of, early-on, by Howard as part of his Hyborian Age. If Howard does not have Conan using the name of Mitra in everyday language until a decade after Tower... then it seems a bit odd to hear him do so here. Conan uses the name of Mitra in front of other people (twice with Tamira and once with Abuletes). While I could understand Conan using the name of a god in front of a follower of that god in order to drive home a crucial point to that person however, that situation is not occuring in the first two instances and arguable in the final instance. Also, it seems strange that Conan would invoke the god when he does not believe in the deity to begin with.

The Code of Conan: In the last paragraph of chapter 16, Jordan discusses Conan's "code" and what it demands of the Cimmerian. Earlier in the novel, after Conan dumps Barastes out a second story window and the spice merchant runs off screaming for the city guard, Conan thinks: "Perhaps it would have been better if he had slit the man's throat, yet murder had never been his way." This only moments after the merchant had tried to kill him. Dale Rippke, Don Herron and others suggest that one of the fundamental differences between Howard's Conan and the character by the same name appearing in the pastiche tales and comic-books is the civilized traits displayed by the latter two. Rippke suggests that Conan's "code" is a perfect example of how Howard's Conan differs from pastiche and comic-book Conan in his essay The Tao of Conan: Why everything you think you know about Conan is probably wrong.

Conan the thinker: although not as prevalent as in other pastiche tales, there are points in the story where Conan stops to think about things (or decides that the situation does not afford him time to think) instead of just reacting instinctively. Don Herron, in his essay Conan vs. Conantics, argues that thinking and planning instead of acting are not traits of the character as written by Robert E. Howard.

Conan is a reaver and a slayer, according to Howard. Rippke and probably Herron would likely argue, in the situation with Berastes, that Howard's Conan would have killed the merchant in self-defense and not given it another thought (save perhaps how much Abuletes would charge to dispose of the body), instead of disarming him, dumping him out the window and then thinking about what he did. Or perhaps Conan's instincts would have warned him not to go up to his room alone with Berastes in the first place.

Conan the berserker: At more than one point in the novel, Conan is consumed by battle-fury, which is described as his birthright. During his battle rage, only a small corner of his mind remains sane. Although Howard used terms like red-rage and berserker fury to describe Conan at one point or another, he never characterized Conan as being berserk every time he went into battle or that he was prone to a berserker state in the traditional nordic sense.

Publication history[]

Advertisement