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Savage Tales #5
St 5
Date: July, 1974
Cover: Neal Adams
Writer: Various
Penciller: Various
Inker: Various
Letterer: Various
Editor: Roy Thomas
Title: "The Secret of Skull River"
"Spell of the Dragon"
"The Legend of the Lizard-Men!"

The Secret of Skull River[]


Writer: Roy Thomas
Penciller: Jim Starlin
Inker: Al Milgrom

Major Characters[]

  • Conan (Previous chronological appearance in CB-44; next chronological appearance in CB-45).

Minor Characters[]

  • Hanuman and Grandall (First and only appearance to date; both die in this issue). Mutated brothers.
  • Thuribald and Naia (First and only appearance to date). Mayor and his daughter.
  • Sophos (First and only appearance to date; dies in this issue). Local lord.
  • Anaximander (First and only appearance to date; dies in this issue). Wizard.


  • The road between Arenjun and Shadizar.

Time Frame[]

  • One week.


Conan, on the way to Shadizar, comes across a blind seer prophesying danger at the river called Skull. Conan ignores him, but soon encounters a deformed giant of a man, named Hanuman, and only succeeds in the battle by toppling the wretched creature off a cliff. Conan stumbles to a nearby stream, badly injured, and as he falls into the water perceives a skull grinning at him from its depths. Conan loses consciousness, but regains it a week later in the home of Thuribald, mayor of a small village. The mayor and his daughter, Naia, have found him and nursed him back to health in hopes that he can stop the pollution of the river by the mage Anaximander, who is under the employ of a man named Sophos, and conducting unknown experiments the byproduct of which taint the river and slowly rot the skin and weaken those who drink from it. Thuribald and Naia are unafected because, in return for "favors" from Naia, they are provided a small supply of pure water. They promise Conan anything he wants from the village if he defeats the two pollutors, and Conan agrees, but not before he samples some of Naia's favors himself. Conan makes his way to the small keep, but is swiftly captured and thrown into an arena with another hulking giant, but this time Conan manages to communicate with it and discovers that the two giants were brothers captured by the sorcered and mutated into giants. Anaximander has promised to return the giant, Grandall, to his normal state, but Conan and Grandall soon discover that is not possible. They also find out the purpose behind the experiments when Anaximander uses a potion to turn a metal statue into solid gold. Conan and Grandall attack and kill Sophos and Anaximander, but the giant loses his life in the process. Conan returns to the small villages and claims his reward. To Naia's humiliation, he chooses a fine horse and rides away.


  • Freely adapted from a plot by John Jakes.


  • Conan Saga #10
  • The Savage Sword of Conan Volume One

Conan Chronology
Previous Appearance:
Conan the Barbarian #44
Savage Tales #5 Next Appearance:
Conan the Barbarian #45

Savage Tales
Previous Issue:
Savage Tales #4
Savage Tales #5 Next Issue:
Final issue