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The Tower Of The Elephant (Conan Story of the Month)


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#41 monk

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Posted 31 January 2011 - 06:05 PM

i always felt bad for the soldiers. i guess they were the hyborian 'red shirts.'
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#42 theagenes

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Posted 31 January 2011 - 07:31 PM

I think it could go either way. On the one hand, describing a Gunderland deserter in two thief tales in short succession is too close to be coincidence, and describing the TotE and Nestor as mercenaries implies a connection. On the other hand, though, it isn't unlikely that following a bad defeat, there might be quite a few Gunderland deserters, all of whom being different individuals.

So the Gunderland deserters in TotE and RitH, and Nestor, could be one and the same... or they could all be different. I dunno.


Yeah, no way to know for sure, but I just get the sense he was trying to come up with a recurring supporting character or two.
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#43 Taranaich

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Posted 31 January 2011 - 09:59 PM

Indeed: Howard seemed to try this with Thoth-Amon to an extent, and we see it with the likes of Prospero and Pallantides. It seems reasonable to assume that this Gunderman is one and the same.

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#44 deuce

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Posted 31 January 2011 - 11:16 PM

I re-read 'TotE' yesterday; I noticed the spiders jaws clicked together like castenets. Leiber develops that idea in 'Bazaare of the Bizarre', when the Mouser thinks a big, caged spider clicking it's jaws is a nymphy gal shaking a castenet.


Good spot! B) Fritz was nothing if not an REH fan.

Howard probably heard castanets played on/south of the Border.

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#45 deuce

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Posted 31 January 2011 - 11:26 PM


I think it could go either way. On the one hand, describing a Gunderland deserter in two thief tales in short succession is too close to be coincidence, and describing the TotE and Nestor as mercenaries implies a connection. On the other hand, though, it isn't unlikely that following a bad defeat, there might be quite a few Gunderland deserters, all of whom being different individuals.

So the Gunderland deserters in TotE and RitH, and Nestor, could be one and the same... or they could all be different. I dunno.


Yeah, no way to know for sure, but I just get the sense he was trying to come up with a recurring supporting character or two.



Hey Theagenes! I agree with the T-man that it's reasonable, though it isn't clear from the Nestor Fragment just where the Gunderman was a guardsman.

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#46 Fernando

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Posted 01 February 2011 - 01:39 AM

It seems reasonable to assume that this Gunderman is one and the same.


As you said in the post #40, maybe yes, maybe no. It made me also wonder about the blonde Brythunian girl who was in a Gunderman's company in TTotE. Maybe she is the Conan's "light-of-love" in Nestor Sinopsys and/or RiTH's blonde wench. Or maybe there are 3 different characters. The same for the Gunderman (or Gundermen) in the three tales of Conan as a thief. ;) REH left, IMO, an open question for us, and I think that whatever answer sounds reasonable. ;)

#47 Taranaich

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Posted 01 February 2011 - 04:04 AM

As you said in the post #40, maybe yes, maybe no. It made me also wonder about the blonde Brythunian girl who was in a Gunderman's company in TTotE. Maybe she is the Conan's "light-of-love" in Nestor Sinopsys and/or RiTH's blonde wench. Or maybe there are 3 different characters. The same for the Gunderman (or Gundermen) in the three tales of Conan as a thief. ;) REH left, IMO, an open question for us, and I think that whatever answer sounds reasonable. ;)


Hmm, good point. Am I right in thinking this is what Busiek did for the comics? Can't remember if they were the same character or not.

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#48 johnnypt

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Posted 01 February 2011 - 12:38 PM


As you said in the post #40, maybe yes, maybe no. It made me also wonder about the blonde Brythunian girl who was in a Gunderman's company in TTotE. Maybe she is the Conan's "light-of-love" in Nestor Sinopsys and/or RiTH's blonde wench. Or maybe there are 3 different characters. The same for the Gunderman (or Gundermen) in the three tales of Conan as a thief. ;) REH left, IMO, an open question for us, and I think that whatever answer sounds reasonable. ;)


Hmm, good point. Am I right in thinking this is what Busiek did for the comics? Can't remember if they were the same character or not.


The girl was introduced in #19, but didn't really have anything to do in the TotE adaptation. I think Nestor was introduced in #24, I don't have access to my HCs right now to double check and see how or if the Gunderman was portrayed in the opening of #20, but he wasn't identified specifically in any case.

It does make for a pretty nice trllogy even though it's unlikely REH really intended it that way. But he gave us the pieces to play around with!

#49 theagenes

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Posted 01 February 2011 - 04:56 PM



As you said in the post #40, maybe yes, maybe no. It made me also wonder about the blonde Brythunian girl who was in a Gunderman's company in TTotE. Maybe she is the Conan's "light-of-love" in Nestor Sinopsys and/or RiTH's blonde wench. Or maybe there are 3 different characters. The same for the Gunderman (or Gundermen) in the three tales of Conan as a thief. ;) REH left, IMO, an open question for us, and I think that whatever answer sounds reasonable. ;)


Hmm, good point. Am I right in thinking this is what Busiek did for the comics? Can't remember if they were the same character or not.


The girl was introduced in #19, but didn't really have anything to do in the TotE adaptation. I think Nestor was introduced in #24, I don't have access to my HCs right now to double check and see how or if the Gunderman was portrayed in the opening of #20, but he wasn't identified specifically in any case.

It does make for a pretty nice trllogy even though it's unlikely REH really intended it that way. But he gave us the pieces to play around with!



Yeah, that's kind of how I see it too. I'm not sure that he necessarily intended it as a trilogy, but certainly the Nestor Synopsis and TotE seem to have been written concurrently. Actually IIRC, "Hyborian Genesis" was a little vague on just when "Nestor" was written; was imediately before TotE? I can't remember -- maybe Patrice will weigh in.

In the DH series, Nestor is introduced just like the Gunderman in TotE - a random guy in a bar - but it was after the TotE adaptation. I agree that whether REH intended it or not, TotE, "Nestor", and RitH make a great trilogy and this has been somewhat exploited to good effect both by Roy Thomas and then Busiek/Truman. If the great dream comes true and there were ever something like an HBO Conan series, these stories would certainly provide the supporting cast you would need -- at least for the first season.
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#50 johnnypt

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Posted 01 February 2011 - 07:16 PM




As you said in the post #40, maybe yes, maybe no. It made me also wonder about the blonde Brythunian girl who was in a Gunderman's company in TTotE. Maybe she is the Conan's "light-of-love" in Nestor Sinopsys and/or RiTH's blonde wench. Or maybe there are 3 different characters. The same for the Gunderman (or Gundermen) in the three tales of Conan as a thief. ;) REH left, IMO, an open question for us, and I think that whatever answer sounds reasonable. ;)


Hmm, good point. Am I right in thinking this is what Busiek did for the comics? Can't remember if they were the same character or not.


The girl was introduced in #19, but didn't really have anything to do in the TotE adaptation. I think Nestor was introduced in #24, I don't have access to my HCs right now to double check and see how or if the Gunderman was portrayed in the opening of #20, but he wasn't identified specifically in any case.

It does make for a pretty nice trllogy even though it's unlikely REH really intended it that way. But he gave us the pieces to play around with!



Yeah, that's kind of how I see it too. I'm not sure that he necessarily intended it as a trilogy, but certainly the Nestor Synopsis and TotE seem to have been written concurrently. Actually IIRC, "Hyborian Genesis" was a little vague on just when "Nestor" was written; was imediately before TotE? I can't remember -- maybe Patrice will weigh in.

In the DH series, Nestor is introduced just like the Gunderman in TotE - a random guy in a bar - but it was after the TotE adaptation. I agree that whether REH intended it or not, TotE, "Nestor", and RitH make a great trilogy and this has been somewhat exploited to good effect both by Roy Thomas and then Busiek/Truman. If the great dream comes true and there were ever something like an HBO Conan series, these stories would certainly provide the supporting cast you would need -- at least for the first season.


I got the impression from Patrice's essay that TotE was created from bits of the synopsis, like Conan being a thief in Zamora.

I've be playing around with both a single film and a cable series approach to these stories in particular. I'll have to post them in the fan area when I get the chance.

#51 Freebooter

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Posted 20 August 2011 - 12:35 PM

Hello all,
I am just curious about something; How old do you think Conan was in "Tower of the Elephant"? The story describes him as a "youth" and just reading that opening scene, etc, it just has me having the impression that he is about 16-17 in that story. I was just wondering what all y'all thought?
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#52 Taranaich

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Posted 20 August 2011 - 01:57 PM

Howard thought so:

As you deduct, Conan was about seventeen when he was introduced to the public in “The Tower of the Elephant.”
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#53 Freebooter

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Posted 20 August 2011 - 04:20 PM

Thanks Taranaich. How have you been doing.
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!
---From The Road of Kings

#54 icarus

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Posted 05 October 2011 - 03:32 PM

I reread this story last night. It's definitely one of my faves because it features Conan as a youth and not very experienced in the ways of 'civilized' cultures.

There are several references to heavy alcohol and drug use. First, the king kept himself in a state of constant drunkenness because he feared Yara. Secondly in Yara's scene, he is high on the yellow lotus, staring blankly, eyes dilated, etc. Was this an anti substance abuse message on REH's part? I know that REH enjoyed his brews, and I'm pretty sure he wasn't a drunk. I definitely wonder about the writing.

#55 matsellah

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 01:30 AM

I don't think Bob was trying to impart anything more than illustrating the decadence and decay permeating the city.
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#56 icarus

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 03:21 PM

I don't think Bob was trying to impart anything more than illustrating the decadence and decay permeating the city.


I think you're right. It did paint a good picture of the decadence of the city. Still though, I don't recall drugs ever being mentioned in any other than a negative instance, and Conan was never depicted purposefully using drugs in the stories.

#57 Taranaich

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 08:24 PM

There are several references to heavy alcohol and drug use. First, the king kept himself in a state of constant drunkenness because he feared Yara. Secondly in Yara's scene, he is high on the yellow lotus, staring blankly, eyes dilated, etc. Was this an anti substance abuse message on REH's part? I know that REH enjoyed his brews, and I'm pretty sure he wasn't a drunk. I definitely wonder about the writing.



Interesting idea, though I agree it's probably more subtle than that, and just another indicator of Zamora's decadence. "Skull-Face," on the other hand, I think has a pretty profound criticism of substance abuse.

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#58 THE KID

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Posted 25 October 2011 - 09:33 PM

Tower of the elephant is a great REH story and one of my favorites! I believe Conan is about 17/18 years old.

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Conan Volume 3: The Tower of the Elephant and Other Stories TPB

Eisner award-winning writer Kurt Busiek (JLA/Avengers, Astro City), Eisner award-nominated artist Cary Nord (Daredevil), and Eisner award-winning color artist Dave Stewart (Ultimate Fantastic Four; DC: The New Frontier) continue their groundbreaking run on Dark Horse's best-selling Conan series with an adaptation of one of Robert E. Howard's greatest Conan tales, "The Tower of the Elephant"!

Fed up with both civilization and mysticism, Conan travels to the infamous City of Thieves to take out his frustrations. When a bar fight uncovers the legend of the impregnable Tower of the Elephant, he becomes determined to rob it, setting out on a quest unlike any he's undertaken-one that will involve new comrades, sudden death, horrifying creatures, and gruesome unsettling fates for both gods and men.

• Busiek and Nord-with a special appearance by legendary illustrator Michael Wm. Kaluta (Books of Magic, Lucifer)-chronicle a seminal adventure in Conan's life.

• Collecting Conan #0, #16-17, #19-22.
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#59 Ironhand

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Posted 27 October 2011 - 05:37 AM

Mal reviews TTotE over at Grognardia:

http://grognardia.bl...f-elephant.html

From the review:

Howard very effectively blends into his story elements that, taken out of context, shouldn't work and yet they do. More than that, he does so in such an effortless way that one is left wondering why more fantasy authors haven't followed his lead (or why those who have done so did it so poorly).


Movie producers could take this to heart.
"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

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#60 Necton29

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Posted 19 December 2011 - 09:54 PM

I like the Tower of the Elephant because you get the impression like Conan is justing starting out and that there will be many later adventures. I like the prince of thieves Taurus of Nemedia. When he and Conan meet its kind of like he's passing on his role to Conan the new guy.