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Conan The Gladiator


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#1 Buxom Sorceress

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Posted 05 February 2005 - 07:23 PM

CONAN THE GLADIATOR
by Leonard Carpenter. Tor 1995.
[ Conan as a 'circus wildman' + a hired 'gladiator /thug']

This whole story is trivial, limp, boring + ridiculous.
it features weak, wimpy Stygians allowing Corinthians [in roman style] to run their capital city like an ancient 'las vegas' entertainment complex.
this book bears NO resemblance to 'Conan', or Hyboria, Stygia, or even 'sword + sorcery'!

conan is unbelievably naive, dull, slow + stupid in this very silly wimpy farce. there are NO supernatural elements + NO magic /sorcery at all in this dull, pathetic, pointless tale!

the 'climax' is just a big accidental stadium collapse + flood, while a confused silly conan tries to avoid fighting anyone!?! :D

rating= 0 of 5. a complete waste of paper! avoid. :angry:
[ WORST attempt yet. except for 'Relentless' by r green ]
-
i must use carpenters own words as i ask -
" by Crom's scratchy linen clout!"
'why?..why...WHY ?!?...' :lol:

WARNING ! . this book will damage your... - :blink:
--

AVATARS GALORE
HYBORIAN Limericks + Rhymes
Lots of FUN and serious new RHYMING Hyborian/Fantasy poetry.

"So I took to a life of adventure and daring
leaving most warriors drooling and staring.
After I danced with my exotic flesh baring
I would vanish into the new Sunrise glaring."

#2 Ring-Haunter

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Posted 05 February 2005 - 10:25 PM

conan is unbelievably naive, dull, slow + stupid in this very silly wimpy farce. there are NO supernatural elements + NO magic /sorcery at all in this dull, pathetic, pointless tale!

I think I liked the book a bit more than you did, Bux, but I stll don't recommend it.

The lack of supernatural elements in the book surprised me. In general, Carpenter tends toward more historic settings than fantastic ones, but to ditch fantasy elements entirely (aside from the Hyborian setting) is just odd, and most readers won't want to bother.

The setting doesn't feel a thing like Stygia; Carpenter re-invented it as the Roman empire ( :huh: ).

Yeah, naive doesn't even begin to describe "Conan the Gullible," who decides to hang around in the Luxur Gladitorial arena even after the rulers stick him in a deathtrap! :huh:

The finale I think could have worked -- if Conan had more to do with it, but he hardly figures in. In general, Carpenter has this problem a lot.

I have an old review of this around somewhere (maybe its on the forum in the old threads); I'll see if I can dig it up.
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#3 Strom

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Posted 05 February 2005 - 10:49 PM

I must agree with Buxom - this tale is very lame. Even the last fight with the undefeated strangler wasn't worth the page it was printed on. There just wasn't enough action in this book and Conan befriended the circus troupe to an unrealistic degree. He literally "tagged along" in this book and that is just not Conan. The axe-throwing guy who became the leader of the gangs was more interesting than Conan - he at least went out and did something while Conan sat in a tavern and bitched and moaned. Sad tale! Stygians with no evil magic and a wuss Conan - why even write a tale like that?

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#4 budgie

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Posted 05 February 2005 - 10:56 PM

I didnt think the book was that bad either as a story goes but as a Conan novel it was weak...

bad yes but not really bad, I have read worse.

The overal consensus about the roman theme is correct and seems unlkiely that the Stygians would allow themselves to be ruled by anyone other than themselves.

The biggest problem I had was Conans ease of willingness to get involved with a travelling circus act and then his eventual "occupation" as a gladiator.

I did however like some elements of the secondary characters.. the young circus performer who was a dab hand with some daggers and the intregue involving the various gang wars within the city..

The chariot vs circus performer battle was rather nicely done too

On the whole though a weak novel I would rate 3/10

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#5 Ring-Haunter

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Posted 06 February 2005 - 12:00 AM

bad yes but not really bad, I have read worse.

Oh yeah, I've read much worse. :o

But?there still isn't much reason to grab this one. I think that Carpenter wanted to write a historical novel about the gladitorial games in the Roman Empire, but since he had a contract to do a Conan novel he just tried to stuff Conan and the Hyborian Age into this preconceived setting, and they just don't fit.
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#6 Strom

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Posted 06 February 2005 - 03:17 AM

bad yes but not really bad, I have read worse.

Oh yeah, I've read much worse. :o

But?there still isn't much reason to grab this one. I think that Carpenter wanted to write a historical novel about the gladitorial games in the Roman Empire, but since he had a contract to do a Conan novel he just tried to stuff Conan and the Hyborian Age into this preconceived setting, and they just don't fit.

That still doesn't explain why he put together the Luxor/Corithian storyline. Conan and gladiator battles go together very easily and you have to try very hard to screw that premise up - and Carpenter did just that. I am sure there are worst Conan stories out there but it would be hard to imagine a worst effort to portray Conan or the Hyborian world/races accurately.

I bought the book hoping it would be Conan the Gladiator - instead it was Conan the Circus Strongman. Weak!

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#7 Buxom Sorceress

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 07:01 AM

thanks for all your great comments, opinions, + ratings.

but we still want MORE ...
so come on all u silent 'lurkers' out there. please draw your swords + jump in?
are u a 'circus' fan, or a Conan fan? ;)

i welcome u all... :)
---

#8 Ring-Haunter

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 08:56 AM

but we still want MORE ...so come on all u silent 'lurkers' out there. please draw your swords + jump in? are u a 'circus' fan, or a Conan fan?  ;)

I have a feeling that only the four of us read this novel. The consensus is fairly negative, and maybe that explains why only four of us read it. :)

I picked this one up originally for two reasons:

1) The concept of Conan as a gladiator appealed to me. The Milius version of Conan had fought as a gladiator as part of the reworked origin, but I wondered how the pastiche novel Conan might find his way into the job. Plus, to have it happen in Stygia seemed like a great bonus (as people can tell from my posts, my avatar, and so forth, I?m quite a Stygian fan); I imagined dark sorcery involved in the gladitorial arena. The Hyberborean story arc in the Dark Horse Conan comic, where Conan fights gladitorial combat while drugged by the Hyberboreans, is similar to what I expected from this novel?Conan, forced against his will (well, obviously) to fight death-matches in decadent and sorcerous Stygia. Kewl!

2) The cover illustration. Hey, its a good one.

The book failed to deliver on promise #1, in all ways. The cover, however, remains a good one. Can't compensate, but it's something.
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#9 budgie

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 07:16 PM

yep, the TOR's usually have some nice covers and in the case of "gladiator " its probably the best thing about that novel.

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#10 alex

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 07:37 PM

I whole heartedly echo Strom and Haunter's repies dealing with the title's subject matter.

I was looking forward to an old fashioned tale about a trapped and underestimated Conan who awes his enemies by refusing to die, taking every person or thing thrown at him in the arena.

Instead I learned that it was all stage. What's worse is he actually agreed to participate for higher ratings. Conan reality tv? Heck, I remember an issue of SS like this.

When you've got a true blue, tried and tested formula like a Gladiator premise. And then make it boring. Do you have to work at it?

What suprised me is I that really enjoyed Carpenter's RAIDER. It had all the ingredients and a great story. GLADIATOR was a very weak and misguided effort.
What do I know of cultured ways, the gilt, the craft and the lie?
I, who was born in a naked land and bred in the open sky.
The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs - I was a man before I was a king.

- "The Road of Kings"

#11 Ring-Haunter

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 07:49 PM

When you've got a true blue, tried and tested formula like a Gladiator premise. And then make it boring. Do  you have to work at it?

Yeah, you'd expect this could practically write itself. Howard would have pounded out a thrilling story in a day based just on this.

I have a copy of Conan the Raider, but haven't read it yet. I'm looking forward to trying it now.
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#12 Eli

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Posted 08 February 2005 - 09:17 AM

The cover was good but the book was bad. Conan maybe a moody, violent, unwashed barbar but he is no fool.

#13 alex

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Posted 08 February 2005 - 12:56 PM

I have a copy of Conan the Raider, but haven't read it yet. I'm looking forward to trying it now.

Yeah, I know I've been harping on that one on these boards for a while. And to be honest it's been ages since I read it. But heck, I had a good experience with the darn thing.

Kinda Night Of the living Stygian mummy, raiders of the dusty tombs. Great stuff! Hope you enjoy it.
What do I know of cultured ways, the gilt, the craft and the lie?
I, who was born in a naked land and bred in the open sky.
The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs - I was a man before I was a king.

- "The Road of Kings"

#14 William Blake

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Posted 09 February 2005 - 03:53 AM

I started reading "Conan The Avenger" last night. It is not a REH work. Bjorn Nyberg and L. Sprague De Camp wrote it. On the cover it says that it is a REH book but it's a ruse. There is an essay in the back of the book by REH but thats it.

The book was awful. I couldn't finish the first page. Conan is throwing a party in this novel for some gentry. What a joke. Conan does not throw "balls." That isn't his style at all.

#15 Buxom Sorceress

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Posted 09 February 2005 - 08:24 AM

..The book was awful.  I couldn't finish the first page.  Conan is throwing a party in this novel for some gentry.  What a joke.  Conan does not throw "balls."..

how do u know the book was 'awful' if u only read 1 page?

let me enlighten u further...

CONAN THE AVENGER by B Nyberg + de camp.
[ King Conan has many adventures chasing his kidnapped Queen all the way into far Khitai]
a fast paced + action packed pulp-style tale. conan gets some good help from some famous old friends along the way.
there are some great scenes + combats + plenty good atmosphere.[ + i just ignored the silly bit about conan being 'the bane of all magic'?!? ]

quite good + very entertaining overall. i enjoyed this + liked Nybergs style.
rating= 3 of 5. quite good.
worth a read. :)
-
[ NB. all kings have to entertain their nobles /friends with a big 'ball' now + again. conans balls are bigger than most... ] :D

#16 alex

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Posted 09 February 2005 - 01:30 PM

I've always liked AVENGER aka THE RETURN OF CONAN. It's one of the best de Campo tales. The Hyborian Age by Howard has been included in numerous volumes now, but when this Lancer later Ace volume was released that wasn't the case.

The story wraps up a little too fast at the climax, but the first three quarters are fast paced and exciting.

A King rescues his queen, it doesn't get much simpler and fun then that!
What do I know of cultured ways, the gilt, the craft and the lie?
I, who was born in a naked land and bred in the open sky.
The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs - I was a man before I was a king.

- "The Road of Kings"

#17 VincentDarlage

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Posted 09 February 2005 - 07:21 PM

I thought Conan the Avenger/The Return of Conan was a decent novel except for the deux ex machina ending. The whole bit with Crom actually appearing to Conan, speaking to him and rescuing him, and the sacrifices Conan made to Crom are contrary to everything REH ever said about Crom and the Cimmerians. That ending ruined it for me ever since.

#18 Ring-Haunter

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Posted 09 February 2005 - 09:38 PM

I have always felt curious about how much of The Return of Conan is de Camp's and how much is Bj?rn Nyberg's. Nyberg wrote the novel on his own, in English which is not his first language, and then de Camp "edited" it to help the transition to English. Did de Camp alter any of the plot details or was his writing hand purely that of polishing Nyberg?s iffy English? Always wondered about this?
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#19 Buxom Sorceress

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Posted 10 February 2005 - 05:26 AM

I thought Conan the Avenger/The Return of Conan was a decent novel except for the deux ex machina ending.  The whole bit with Crom actually appearing to Conan, speaking to him and rescuing him, and the sacrifices Conan made to Crom are contrary to everything REH ever said about Crom and the Cimmerians.  That ending ruined it for me ever since.

dear VINCENT,
yes i agree.
i dont like it when some of the writers are too 'heavy handed' with involvement of 'the gods' + 'fate' + control conans 'destiny' too much.
1 or 2 of these 'odd /silly /over-the-top' bits usually occur in most of the pastiches. but i can ignore /overlook em if the overall book is quite good [at least] + the writer is trying hard to entertain.

but when most of a book is silly cr ap i see red + stick my knife in deep + twist till my keyboard is sprayed with crimson!?! [most of green + carpenters rotten tomes are like corpses full of gaping holes] :D
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many thanks for your great contributions to the mongoose conan rpg books.
big kisses from a buxom lover of conan lore ***
:)

#20 Buxom Sorceress

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Posted 10 February 2005 - 05:38 AM

I have always felt curious about how much of The Return of Conan is de Camp's and how much is Bj?rn Nyberg's...

yeah, i've pondered this too.

when i compare AVENGER/'Return of' to de camps own work SPIDER GOD, i find the latter to be mostly dull + limp/weak. but avenger is much better overall + very exciting with gusto!
+ Nyberg has a nice, positive, 'pulpy fast-action dramatic' style, which is different to de camps when he writes alone.
so i dont think de camp can have altered the story much?

have any of u 'lore-lords' read the original manuscript by nyberg? i wonder how much editing actually NEEDED to be done? de camp just had to get his name onto every conan book in that series.
:rolleyes: