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Author Topic: Age of Conan Original Books  (Read 1398 times)
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Tals
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« on: May 23, 2008, 05:01:34 AM »

So with Age of Conan installed on my PC I thought it might be useful/interesting to read the original books.

The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian
The Bloody Crown of Conan
The Conquering Sword of Conan

Has anyone read these books, are they any good - worth the read etc?

Tals
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faide
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« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2008, 05:13:04 AM »

I'm reading through the Coming of Conan the Cimmerian right now.  I think it's very good so far.  Worth checking out, especially if your playing the game currently.  The books are collections of the short stories Robert E Howard wrote about Conan.  Most of the stories in the first one are probably only 20-40 pages in length.  Pretty good reading before bedtime for me , I usually finish one a night. 
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Shinjin
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« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2008, 05:13:44 AM »

Quote from: Tals on May 23, 2008, 05:01:34 AM

The Conquering Sword of Conan

I think this is the one that I read.  From what I remember it was enjoyable in the sense that it oozed style.  The story itself wasn't fantastic, but you know how you watch some TV shows or movies more to see the characters develop than the story?  Not that the Conan character develops significantly over the book, but IMO Conan books are read more to be immersed in the style and atmosphere than the actual storytelling.

Which may be perfect to get you in the mood for AoC.  Can't really say for sure since I don't have a rig capable of playing it...
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Tals
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« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2008, 06:02:34 AM »

OK ordered the first one, i'll post impressions once i've got it and read it. For some reason I thought these books originated from a newer author - not back to the 1930's - should be interesting.

Tals
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Zekester
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« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2008, 11:41:21 AM »

I've read The Conquering Sword of Conan, and loved it.
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YellowKing
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« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2008, 12:34:00 PM »

I've got all the collections, and they're terrific. They are a product of their time, though, so sometimes they are a bit politically incorrect ("black savages" abducting white women and all that), but as pointed out they just drip atmosphere. It's amazing to me how old pulp fiction from the '30s often surpasses modern fantasy writing in terms of quality.
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Shinjin
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« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2008, 01:53:49 PM »

Quote from: Tals on May 23, 2008, 06:02:34 AM

For some reason I thought these books originated from a newer author - not back to the 1930's - should be interesting.

Robert Jordan did some Conan stories and I thought he did a good job of capturing the feel of the originals.
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JohnathanStrange
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« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2008, 02:42:02 PM »

One of my favorite  Conan stories was when he met Balthus just Beyond The Black River

I'm also a fan of the classic Barry Windsor-Smith Conan comic series - way before my time originally, there are now full-color reprints of Conan, who was not portrayed/drawn as so stereotypically like a comicbook superhero - though, arguably, that's what he was. Still the Windsor-Smith graphics had a kind of dignity that took Conan seriously. Anyhow...

Not that you asked.
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Rowdy
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« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2008, 05:31:36 PM »

Quote from: Shinjin on May 23, 2008, 01:53:49 PM

Quote from: Tals on May 23, 2008, 06:02:34 AM

For some reason I thought these books originated from a newer author - not back to the 1930's - should be interesting.

Robert Jordan did some Conan stories and I thought he did a good job of capturing the feel of the originals.

I actually have read both all the Howard and Jordan Conan stories, and I kind of prefer the Jordan stories.
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Pyperkub
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« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2008, 06:51:17 PM »

On a side note, I miss the Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser series.
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Randomayhem
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« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2008, 10:53:45 PM »

Quote from: Pyperkub on May 23, 2008, 06:51:17 PM

On a side note, I miss the Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser series.

Funny, I was just thinking the other day how deserving Lankhmar is of its own PC game.

I enjoyed Howard's Conan stories as a teenager, but revisiting them recently left me unable to get through even the first collection...they're just so damned serious, especially when compared to the work of his peers Clark Ashton Smith and H.P. Lovecraft (even the latter could get a bit whimsical).
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« Reply #11 on: May 24, 2008, 01:09:39 PM »

Quote from: JohnathanStrange on May 23, 2008, 02:42:02 PM

I'm also a fan of the classic Barry Windsor-Smith Conan comic series - way before my time originally, there are now full-color reprints of Conan, who was not portrayed/drawn as so stereotypically like a comicbook superhero - though, arguably, that's what he was. Still the Windsor-Smith graphics had a kind of dignity that took Conan seriously.
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Tals
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« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2008, 03:35:01 PM »

The coming of conan just arrived - took a huge time from an ebayer who hadn't been clear it was a US delivery  crybaby

Anyway absolutely love the style books being random exerpts in conans time - works really well. Howard has a lovely colourful style in his writing which works very well for me. Just ordered the other 2 books, whilst AOC may not have been for me the books certainly are.

Tals
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« Reply #13 on: June 22, 2008, 07:11:41 PM »

I almost choked when I read the thread title, but the sentiment is nice, so...

Robert E. Howard competes only with Tolkien for the title of most important fantasy author.  While Tolkien has had the benefit (now) of better movie treatments, and was by far more ambitious and better educated than Howard, in terms of overall quality the difference is a matter of taste which really doesn't compare, like comparing Tolstoy to Dashiell Hammett.

Howard at his best is a master of the pulp short story form, and Conan is his best character in his most fully realized world.  Where Tolkien's books contain long passages of boring prose and bad poems which must be read to fully understand the goodness of the work as a whole, Howard's bad or exploitative stories can be skipped for the good stuff, without much missed.  You are choosing correctly to read the original works as published, the three Ballantine compilations.  The DeCamp/Lee additions of the 1970s paperbacks do the character a great disservice, as they're worse than Howard at his worst, and often tear good stories apart or add fat to a story of lean meat.  Howard was a hardboiled writer whose characters carried swords rather than pistols.

The stories in the three volume set are ordered as Howard published them, and you can track his growth as a writer through the chronology as you can by tracking his friend H. P. Lovecraft's growth through reading the Arkham House versions of his work.

You're in for a treat when you get to the third book, which contains Beyond the Black River and Red Nails, the two best fantasy short stories I can think of.
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Tals
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« Reply #14 on: June 22, 2008, 08:26:18 PM »

In UK my impression is that Robert Howard is hardly known - hence where the title came from, I truly did not know who created these wonderful books. Now I have read a couple of the stories i'm loving it and surprised that they haven't come to the UK. One good aspect of AoC is it does appear to have effected the bookshelves and I noticed some Robert Howard volumes on the shelves - albeit the ones that organise it in chronological order rather than how he wrote them. I'm looking forward to working my way through these 3 volumes.

Tals
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Knightsabre
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« Reply #15 on: June 23, 2008, 03:42:30 PM »

Wow - this makes me realize how long its been since I read those original Howard stories!  I will agree that Beyond the Black River is probably the best Conan story I've ever read.
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