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Are the Conan Books Any Good?


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#41 dr Bo

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Posted 03 November 2005 - 05:59 PM

Will my image of Conan be destroyed or enhanced?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Your vision can only be enhanced.
For my part I've been exposed to Conan at first with the Marvel Comics drawn by John Buscema, saw the two (three if you count Red Sonja) movies and then finally read the novels.
Sure, the novels are the starting point, but every other take on the character are worth watching for what they are : vision and interpretation of our Cimmerian hero. And thus, reading the novel will give you another view on the character, which happen to be the original one, and damn fine one!

Think of Hercules; it's a greek myth, a character featured in classic painting, a tv character, a cartoon character, a comics character : at this point all this incarnation are part of the myth, may they be good or bad. And if you like the character, they will be interesting to watch upon his many incarnation. The same could be said of Tarzan, Ars?ne Lupin, Batman, etc.

And so, if you like Conan, you'll surely enjoy reading more adventures from him. Sure, you'll see differencies, but that's what fun to see, feel and enjoy when you look the legacy of a character that have become an icon. In any case that's what I like.

Edited by dr Bo, 08 November 2005 - 04:00 PM.


#42 budgie

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Posted 03 November 2005 - 07:26 PM

Been a Conan fan for a number of years now yet my whole fan base is on the movie CTB.  Since I've never read any of REH work it the only incarnation of Conan I have to go off.

Just wondering is anyone else in the forum in the same boat as me?

I keep telling myself I will get round to getting a copy but being my last year at uni time is limited for non uni reading.  But I will get hold of copies. 

Will my image of Conan be destroyed or enhanced?

Did anyone get into Conan via the movie then read the books?

If so does Millius's Conan still stick in the mind or is REH Conan a much stronger character?

Still WHEN I do read REH the picture in my minds eye of Conan will be Arny.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



Berserker,

Pm me with your address, I think I may have one or two doubles of the sphere novels I could let you have for the cost of the postage..theyre probably not in the best of condition but what the heck - theyre for reading, not displaying

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#43 El Borak's Li'l Brother

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Posted 03 November 2005 - 08:06 PM

[quote]Been a Conan fan for a number of years now yet my whole fan base is on the movie CTB.? Since I've never read any of REH work it the only incarnation of Conan I have to go off.[/quote]

A sad case for the inavailability of Robert E. Howard's Conan in the 80's and on...

[quote]Just wondering is anyone else in the forum in the same boat as me?[/quote]

Not me. I am the type who read Conan and dreamed of seeing him in a flick (naturally, with my interest in flick making, hoping I could do it :rolleyes: ), and when the day came... :(

[quote]I keep telling myself I will get round to getting a copy but being my last year at uni time is limited for non uni reading.? But I will get hold of copies.?[/quote]

Hey, school comes first, my friend. But I do find it interesting how times have changed. When I was in college if from time to time I didn't have something other than school reading to do, it'd've driven me mad.

[quote]Will my image of Conan be destroyed or enhanced?[/quote]

Enhanced. And hopefully destroyed to a point as well, meaning that instead of the watered down, factually inaccurate flick Conan you will see the character as he was/is meant to be.

[quote]Did anyone get into Conan via the movie then read the books?[/quote]

No.

[quote]If so does Millius's Conan still stick in the mind or is REH Conan a much stronger character?[/quote]

No. Robert E. Howard's Conan is a much stronger, complex character.

[quote]Still WHEN I do read REH the picture in my minds eye of Conan will be Arny.[/quote]

It might. Artists' rendering of Conan since Frazetta while okay won't leave you with a memorable image to see as you read the stories.

Edited by El Borak's Li'l Brother, 03 November 2005 - 08:07 PM.

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#44 Kortoso

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Posted 03 November 2005 - 09:55 PM

Actually, with one exception, they are short stories and can be read in quick bites, like a half-hour TV show.

#45 Thoth Aw C'mon!

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 01:19 AM

Been a Conan fan for a number of years now yet my whole fan base is on the movie CTB.  Since I've never read any of REH work it the only incarnation of Conan I have to go off.

Just wondering is anyone else in the forum in the same boat as me?

I keep telling myself I will get round to getting a copy but being my last year at uni time is limited for non uni reading.  But I will get hold of copies. 

Will my image of Conan be destroyed or enhanced?

Did anyone get into Conan via the movie then read the books?

If so does Millius's Conan still stick in the mind or is REH Conan a much stronger character?

Still WHEN I do read REH the picture in my minds eye of Conan will be Arny.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



I was introduced to the character thru the marvel comics run of Conan the Barbarain and also the King Conan run, which started out with a number of really excellent stories... But as to your question, you'll definitely find the REH Conan much more vivid than the CTB movie version-and I'm a big fan of that movie. I really loved CTB- it remains one of my all time favorite flicks- of any genre. But you'll find the REH version without such weird and bizarre mistakes as the "He spent his entire youth pushing a grain grinder" that the movie makes. I realize that was done to kind of fast-forward his life to the point the movie wanted to take off and run with his story, but still, part of good story-tellling is making these moves in a way that makes sense and doesnt detract from the story. They have some new anthologies out that collect the REH Conan tales. They're available from the major internet booksellers so you'll be able to get ahold of 'em. Check 'em out! B)

#46 Mikey_C

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 01:20 AM

Bedtime reading, I'd say. I'm in the final year of a part-time degree, but still find time for Conan. It's not vexatious to the brain at all - nothing like a textbook. Treat yourself! :D
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#47 korak

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 01:41 AM

Another good choice is to put a copy by the throne. :D

#48 Ironhand

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 01:50 AM

Been a Conan fan for a number of years now yet my whole fan base is on the movie CTB.? Since I've never read any of REH work it the only incarnation of Conan I have to go off.

Just wondering is anyone else in the forum in the same boat as me?

I keep telling myself I will get round to getting a copy but being my last year at uni time is limited for non uni reading.? But I will get hold of copies.?

Will my image of Conan be destroyed or enhanced?

Did anyone get into Conan via the movie then read the books?

If so does Millius's Conan still stick in the mind or is REH Conan a much stronger character?

Still WHEN I do read REH the picture in my minds eye of Conan will be Arny.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I have encountered a few people on various forums whose first exposure to Conan was via the movies, and read REH's stories later. Some of them decided that they liked both the stories and the movie. On the other hand, at least one had her socks knocked clean off by REH, and had nothing but opprobrium for the movies thereafter.

There's a terminology problem here. Some people talk about Conan "books" and "novels". Robert E. Howard wrote a bunch of Conan stories (shorts and novelets), and only one novel: Hour of the Dragon. All other books or novels, such as the Tor novels, are pastiches, ie, imitations, by other writers. If your time is limited, and you want to get some idea of the literary Conan, then BY ALL MEANS get the Robert E. Howard reprints and read REH's Conan first. Save the pastiches for later, or never. And of course, a collection of stories is easier to get through for someone whith limited time. (But I warn you, you may be unable to put them down, with concomitant loss of sleep or lateness for appointments.) :)

As for the Conan of your mind's eye, that is your business entirely.

We would find it really interesting to hear about your reaction.

Edited by Ironhand, 04 November 2005 - 01:54 AM.

"Did you deem yourself strong, because you were able to twist the heads off civilized folk, poor weaklings with muscles like rotten string? Hell! Break the neck of a wild Cimmerian bull before you call yourself strong. I did that, before I was a full-grown man...!" - Conan, in "Shadows in Zamboula", by Robert E. Howard
"... you speak of Venarium familiarly. Perhaps you were there?"
"I was," grunted [Conan]. "I was one of the horde that swarmed over the hills. I hadn't yet seen fifteen snows, but already my name was repeated about the council fires." - "Beyond the Black River", by Robert E. Howard

Read my Conan screenplays at The Scrolls of Ironhand (in particular my transcription of THE FROST GIANT'S DAUGHTER in Act II of "The Snow Devil") at
http://www.scrollsof...d.us/index.html or at
http://www.delicious...ic=ConanProject

#49 Kull1964

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 07:17 PM

Did anyone get into Conan via the movie then read the books?


No.

If so does Millius's Conan still stick in the mind or is REH Conan a much stronger character?


No. Robert E. Howard's Conan is a much stronger, complex character.


Lots of people, and not just me, got into Conan and Howard thanks to Milius' movie! You are the usual purist who declare to know everything about everyone, but actually does know very little outside his/her own limited view...
Howard's Conan is not a much stronger and complex character, just a different one (Milius' Conan is more similar to Howard's Kull in some way). Both are valid and interesting. It's just a matter of knowing how and where to look...

#50 korak

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 07:38 PM

kull 1964 writes- Howard's Conan is not a much stronger and complex character, just a different one (Milius' Conan is more similar to Howard's Kull in some way). Both are valid and interesting. It's just a matter of knowing how and where to look...


I guess next you will say that the Weissmuller Tarzan is as rich and complex as Burroughs novels! hoohaw! Milius' Conan is not valid because it is completely phoney, it contradicts the Howard books.

Kull was a galley slave who rowed for two years---at the age of 18. A big difference from Clonan, who was a mindless automaton for about eight years during his formative period. When you think Kull think Ben-Hur and Gladiator. Kull was a keenly intelligent philosopher king-- Clonan was... um... :)

#51 El Borak's Li'l Brother

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 09:02 PM

Did anyone get into Conan via the movie then read the books?

No.

If so does Millius's Conan still stick in the mind or is REH Conan a much stronger character?

No. Robert E. Howard's Conan is a much stronger, complex character.


Lots of people, and not just me, got into Conan and Howard thanks to Milius' movie! You are the usual purist who declare to know everything about everyone, but actually does know very little outside his/her own limited view...


I declared I know everything about everybody? Yet actually does know very li'l outside his/her own limited view? Interesting.

Of course, lots of people who grew up in the 80's got into Conan via the flick, and a big reason for that is the total lack of Howard's Conan in print. Likewise, I am sure there are lots of people who got into Conan via the loads of pastiches published in the 80's. Hades, a lot in the 70's and 80's got into Conan via the comic books. But it can't be denied that when lots of people got their first opportunity to read Howard's Conan (even if it was through the De Camp/Carter books) the mediocre Conan the Barbarian and disasterous Conan the Destroyer pale into...well, mediocrity. Can they be entertaining? Sure. But as a representation of Howard's creation, they are a farse. The pastiches pale in comparison as well, but I have found them entertaining. The comic books, ditto, though I must add the new Dark Horse series shines. ;)

Howard's Conan is not a much stronger and complex character, just a different one (Milius' Conan is more similar to Howard's Kull in some way). Both are valid and interesting. It's just a matter of knowing how and where to look...


And in your statement above you make my point. "Howard's Conan is not a much stronger and complex character, just a different one..." You admit here yourself the flick Conan is different a.k.a. not Conan. And that is where it fails. As to the claim Milius' Conan is more similar to Kull... Not really. What Howard created with Kull was very different from Conan, in my opinion. But this gets us off topic, I think, and into a long overdone Conan flick discussion.

Edited by El Borak's Li'l Brother, 04 November 2005 - 09:04 PM.

Crom!

#52 Kortoso

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 09:19 PM

On the internet there is a tendency to express thing in terms of extremes (binary - 1s and 0s - is there any wonder?), so I'd like to brutally remind all involved that the real world is not black and white.

#53 korak

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 11:53 PM

EB's little brother writes- Of course, lots of people who grew up in the 80's got into Conan via the flick, and a big reason for that is the total lack of Howard's Conan in print.


I agreed with your post, but I would just like to suggest that a lot of guys got into Conan because of the movie simply because they like to watch movies. Many of them do not like to read books but prefer movies. I know a LOT of people that fall into that category. I am not saying anyone in particular on this board is like that, but just that a lot of people in general simply are too lazy to read ( or too busy) and they won't read the Del Rey Conan anymore than they read the Ace 12 back then. Some won't even read a comic book. For those types, the Arnold Conan will always remain the only Conan, just like for a huge percentage the Weissmuller Tarzan is the only valid Tarzan. A lot of people just don't like to read books, let's face it.

#54 Reaver

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Posted 05 November 2005 - 12:35 AM

I got into Conan from the movie. Just as I got into Tarzan from Watching Greystoke. I think, if you are open-minded enough, you can enjoy both variations. It depends on what you like about Conan, as to whether the books will be better. Do you like his strength, his "fish-out-of-water" mentality? I think the movie Conan is a deeper character, honestly. He is motivated by something larger then himself. Revenge. In the books, he is only motivated by his next meal, and his ultimate desire for conquest and loot. True, he is pushed into many situations by his own moral compass, but invariably, he "does the right thing" because it coincides with doing the profitable thing. Purists can delude themselves all they want, but in the end, Conan is nothing more then a thug with a heart of gold. It is only in the later stories, after he starts gaining more responsibility, that he becomes a more complex character.

I think of one of the problems that a lot of people have with comparing the movie to the books is a matter of perspective. The movie is an origin movie. It's supposed to tell a small portion of Conan's life. And that's the beginning. So, more accurately, it should only be compared to the stories where Conan is young. Subsequent movies (had they been properly made) would have seen the character grow.

Think about Star Wars. How complex was Luke in Ep IV? Not very. But by Ep VI he was all kinds of complex.

Regardless, you will take what you will from the stories. Don't be swayed by ANY opinions you read here. Judge them yourself. That's the only way you can enjoy them.

#55 korak

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Posted 05 November 2005 - 01:24 AM

reaver writes -I got into Conan from the movie. Just as I got into Tarzan from Watching Greystoke. I think, if you are open-minded enough, you can enjoy both variations.


Greystoke is a very beautiful film, but again, you have the insult to the author (and by extension, to the loyal fans of the books, the readers as well.) A director that pretends to adapt a literary work and then goes off on his own tangent lacks aa certain integrity. When a director is sensitive to the myth that made the character beloved in the first place, you can bet that the loyal readers take notice of that and appreciate it. it shows a certain class. Lack of that artistic sensitivity also reflects a lack of same.


reaver writes- In the books, he is only motivated by his next meal, and his ultimate desire for conquest and loot.


I think you are missing an important trait in Conan's character-- he has a lust for wild adventure. He may have been many things in his life, and they all share that same quality-- wild adventure. Licit (as soldier, king) or illicit (pirate, outlaw). Is that such a sin, to lust for wild adventures? You claim this is a lust for loot. I think that there are a lot more stable ways to become wealthy than the path that Conan chooses. Let's face it-- he could have been a rich merchant, but that has got nothing to do with wild adventure. he chose to chase his fortune in the only way he can stand-- through wild adventure. Deal with it.


reaver writes -True, he is pushed into many situations by his own moral compass, but invariably, he "does the right thing" because it coincides with doing the profitable thing.


I have to take exception to this also. Conan has risked his life in many an adventure just to save the life of a silly girl. In Witch Shall Be Born he showed what happens to his enemies when he gets a thirst for revenge-- and his vengeance makes Clonan's look somewhat pathetic.

The fact is that Clonan only kills Thulsa Doom for the sake of revenge-- as if he would not have had any time or interest in killing him otherwise. Shoot-- the real Conan would have killed Doom just to purify the earth, revenge or no.


reaver writes- Purists can delude themselves all they want, but in the end, Conan is nothing more then a thug with a heart of gold.

If that is what Conan is, then that is what the movies should be about. If Milius didn't like that, he should have done his own character, except that he was too greedy for the Conan rights to do that.


reaver writes- The movie is an origin movie. It's supposed to tell a small portion of Conan's life. And that's the beginning. So, more accurately, it should only be compared to the stories where Conan is young. Subsequent movies (had they been properly made) would have seen the character grow.


The problem is that the origin Milius concocts is a very deep kind of difference from the books, and so that his Conan would NEVER have turned into the Howard Conan as long as he lived (as can be plainly seen from the synopsis of the aborted Crown of Iron.)


Just some more thoughts on this endless topic- :)
-

#56 Strom

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Posted 05 November 2005 - 01:40 AM

This debate between Milius and Howard is non-sensical.

Just wondering...I would gather from your comments korak that you have seen the movie numerous times? Would that be correct? Or have all your opinions been obtain from the one time you have watched the movie years ago? I have gleamed different bits and pieces from the movie every-time I watch it. I'm not implying you have to like it but we have all gathered information from life/movies that we have altered after more information or additional viewings. I really hated Coke Zero the first time I tried it but then one was given to me by a retailer and I tried it again - and realized it wasn't bad - in fact it was good. It's part of being open-minded and approaching a subject realizing that if you think it is all bad it usually isn't and if it's all good - we have all heard this one - it's usually too good to be true!

That being said, CTB is pastiche. The most famous pastiche ever. But can not compare to the original - no more than Coke Zero can be compared to Coke Classic. B)

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#57 korak

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Posted 05 November 2005 - 02:07 AM

Strom writes- I really hated Coke Zero the first time I tried it but then one was given to me by a retailer and I tried it again - and realized it wasn't bad - in fact it was good.


ha ha! If pushing doesn't work, try pulling, eh, Strom? :) We'll see.

#58 Strom

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Posted 05 November 2005 - 02:44 AM

:)

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#59 matsellah

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Posted 05 November 2005 - 02:46 AM

[quote name='Berserker' date='Nov 3 2005, 11:54 PM']Been a Conan fan for a number of years now yet my whole fan base is on the movie CTB.  Since I've never read any of REH work it the only incarnation of Conan I have to go off.

Just wondering is anyone else in the forum in the same boat as me?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

[/quote]

Savage Tales/SSOC > Books > CTB Comics > movies

[quote name='Berserker' date='Nov 3 2005, 11:54 PM']Will my image of Conan be destroyed or enhanced?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

[/quote]

IMO, you more than likely will develop additional perspectives. The books will bring you to places and introduce events and characters not presented in the movies... so you'll have to use your own mind's eye.

[quote name='Berserker' date='Nov 3 2005, 11:54 PM']If so does Millius's Conan still stick in the mind or is REH Conan a much stronger character?

Still WHEN I do read REH the picture in my minds eye of Conan will be Arny.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

[/quote]

I'm going to assume you'll see the movie Conan... at first. But once you start reading and see REH's Hyboria isn't as bleak as Milius' and that Conan interacts with multiple characters at a vastly more complex level, I think you'll begin to develop your own image. But first, I would STRONGLY recommend you begin with stories that center around Conan's early (youthful) days, as this will help tear down the walls set up by the movie; you'll see he was a slave but only for a few days and that, by and large, he has always been a free will and has never been encumbered by such base motivations as revenge. Most of all, you're gonna enjoy the hell out of the books - that I guarantee.

[quote name='wulfhere' date='Nov 4 2005, 12:39 AM']As for having a picture of Arnold in your head when you "see" Conan in your mind's eye, that may stay with you. To this day when I visualize Conan his face is the one Frazetta painted.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

[/quote]

And that's what I see. Despite the fact that I started with the B&W comics, it was Frazetta's vision that I adopted.

[quote name='Mikey_C' date='Nov 4 2005, 01:42 AM']Guess what:  I've never seen the movie!  :lol:  (anyone else here....?)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

[/quote]

Guess that makes you the only true purist! :lol:

[quote name='Kull1964' date='Nov 5 2005, 03:17 AM']You are the usual purist who declare to know everything about everyone, but actually does know very little outside his/her own limited view... 

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

[/quote]

Dude, you've got to stop getting personal. I don't see the need to attack someone for their view of a movie. Sheesh!

[quote name='Kull1964' date='Nov 5 2005, 03:17 AM']Howard's Conan is not a much stronger and complex character, just a different one

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

[/quote]

Remember, this is just your opinion. As are the other thousands that would disagree with you.

[quote name='Strom' date='Nov 5 2005, 09:40 AM']That being said, CTB is pastiche.  The most famous pastiche ever.  But can not compare to the original - no more than Coke Zero can be compared to Coke Classic.    B)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

[/quote]

WTF is Coke Zero? (Overseas and -apparently- fortunate).
"Their present king is the most renowned warrior among the western nations. He is an outlander, an adventurer who seized the crown by force during a time of civil strife, strangling King Namedides with his own hands, upon the very throne. His name is Conan, and no man can stand before him in battle." ~ Orastes, 'The Hour Of The Dragon'

"Damned degenerates!" ~ Conan 'Xuthal Of The Dusk'

#60 El Borak's Li'l Brother

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Posted 05 November 2005 - 04:02 AM

That being said, CTB is pastiche.


No. Conan the Barbarian is not a pastiche. A pastiche is an original work based the the creation of another autor. True, it can be said Conan the Barbarian is an original story, but... Through an obvious lack of respect for Robert E. Howard and his creation, Conan, Milius steals scenes from various Conan stories to patch together a story, including taking a character Thulsa Doom from Kull. No. Conan the Barbarian is not a pastiche.

The most famous pastiche ever.


Now that is true... And sad... Sickening, in fact...


But can not compare to the original - no more than Coke Zero can be compared to Coke Classic.    B)


Well, actually, since it was meant to represent the original creation, was advertised as such, I think Conan the Barbarian can be compared to Robert E. Howard's Conan. It's quite diferent from New Coke and Coke Classic since New Coke wasn't supposed to, wasn't advertised represent Coke Classic. It was New Coke.
Crom!