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The Scarlet Citadel (SotM for January)


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#21 deuce

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Posted 26 January 2007 - 12:00 AM

Good points, Kortoso! Are you sure it wasn't a Deuce-ex-machina? :P Couldn't resist.

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#22 PainBrush

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Posted 30 January 2007 - 05:55 PM

Well , did it breath fire , or just have bad breath ? I think Howard kept his monsters as firmly grounded in reality as they could be while still conveying the impression of being monsters . The unmistakeable description of the dinosaur 'dragon' in Red Nails frintzt. We know nowadays those dinos were vegetarians , but 70 years ago they didn't know that yet . Being a vegetarian or carnivore & how vicious either would still be wasn't deciphered yet in popular knowledge - so a dinosaur served perfectly well as the 'dragon' in that tale . Adult iguanas are 95% vegetarian - but I had a maturing 'teenage' ig. that would combat-dance & attack himself in the mirror until I'd get tired of the racket , get up & shoo him out of the room , then all wound up , he would chase my cats around & come after me biting & tail-whipping , hilarious with a little lizard( relatively speaking) - but imagine an iguana that was the size of a car , vegetarian or not - I'd be running !! ( & I'm a silly reptile fan ) that dinosaur/dragon was plenty menacing enough & he called it a dragon 'in the story' though it was clear to us 'outside the story' what it actually was . The giant snake Satha , he could just as easily made it a 'dragon' & gave it some downright horrifying attributes far beyond even a giant snakes , poisonous talons, deadly fumes if not fire-breath , spit-venom , a paralysing scream that splits the skull , on & on , but that B.A. snake was believable & terrifying enough ( for 'most' folks anyhow :huh: )

The monster on whatchamacallit island ( :blink: ) , it could have been a hump-backed curlycue-horned speckle-butt rear-fanged fire-spitting whoop-di-doo that can kill like a gorgon with nothing more than a glance from a hundred yards away , it was instead a big rock-throwing gorilla - with wings added to give it the proper 'menace' (& maneuverability) still fairly natural for a monster . Big statues that come to life , supernatural enough , but still in the shape of men , not horrific monsters or mythical beasts . Thak , any monster could have been in that mirrors reflection , but an ape half human & intelligent enough to seem downright evil in it's murderous ways looking around with human eyes gone insane - it fit better than any kind of vampire , any zombie , any other monster could have for the mood of that story & was exactly the right type of 'monster' .

When creating totally new & supernatural monsters even , he still always kept some definite reference to some specific 'real-life' menace to add just the needed sense of dread & a handy parrallel in the natural world to convey just what nature that monster would display , what type of threat that would in the middle of that particular nightmare still seem plausible , or that would make a reader think unconsciously as if it's a given - " ya know , I bet that's what something like that might do ! " . The sad sounding faint crying pitiful voice in the dungeon,........maybe a hurt woman , maybe a lost little girl , on inspection that goes without saying 'will' occur , - it turns out to be a sickening blobby toad-thingy that stops crying & starts giggling then laughing disgustingly at it's expected lured new victim , that to me was the most creepy-weird disturbing denizen of almost any horror story I've ever read or watched in a movie ( & i'm a major life-long fan-geek of horror movies , books & magazines/comics ) Pretty damn weird 'being' - still a fairly 'natural' monster , it displayed no supernatural qualities other than it's malcreant existence & sinister intent , with much human quality as reference to define it's disgusting nature against/with .

I think in most of the Conan stories he used only enough of the 'super'natural to convey the otherworldy attributes that are needed , & not any more than is needed ,or doesn't overtax a readers 'B.S.' meter & maintains somewhat a level of seriousness/believability. It seems to me he used the unbelievable very sparingly & conservatively . A winged dinosaur is more likely to me than a dragon ,what would really be the actual difference ? Breathing fire or living on top of a treasure hoard ? I don't believe he would ever use millenias old stereotypical 'mythic' ( & childish ) attributes like those in one of his Conan tales . To a sober adult reader a dinosaur that might still plausibly exist in the Hyborian age wouldn't push the limits as much as a typical story 'dragon' & would add a more relatable sense of 'realistic' dread than a mythic type of dragon . J.m.Op.

I dunno , after all that yapping , it just occurs to me Im saying a winged monkey , or walking statue is more believable than a dragon ! ( hey , I'm in the hospital on heavy meds !! :P :P :P )- who the hell could say for sure ? It just seems to me , the type of writer he was - that he'd have put a dinosaur in a story about Conan rather than a dragon .

Edited by PAINBRUSH, 30 January 2007 - 06:19 PM.

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#23 budgie

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Posted 30 January 2007 - 07:16 PM

Hey PB..

My iguanas used to do all the posing too, head bobbing, dewlap dropped and blown.. great to watch.. mines were partial to cat food too (hated dog food)

I take it your in the Hospital for the foot (or was it knee, I cant remember)?


Speedy recovery mate.. no dancing for you for a while

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#24 PainBrush

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 12:53 AM

Thanks Budgie , yeah it's my frankenstein foot/ankle .
Did your Iguanas ever chase after your cats , not just their food ? Or did i just have a head-bobbing retarded Iguana ? He only started doing that though after I once fed him a small pinky-mouse that my monitor lizard didn't eat . I think the iguana liked the new food &assumed any 'mammal' was now on the menu regardless of whatever size it was !

Edited by PAINBRUSH, 31 January 2007 - 01:14 AM.

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#25 budgie

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 09:56 AM

Thanks Budgie , yeah it's my frankenstein foot/ankle .
Did your Iguanas ever chase after your cats , not just their food ? Or did i just have a head-bobbing retarded Iguana ? He only started doing that though after I once fed him a small pinky-mouse that my monitor lizard didn't eat . I think the iguana liked the new food &assumed any 'mammal' was now on the menu regardless of whatever size it was !

sorry, slight highjack here


my cats kept a repectful distance from the igs.. one got a slight whack with the tail of one of them once (the female ig I think) and never went near her or the male ever again..
My male used to come to me by name.. it would run along the floor towards me and leap up on to my thigh (while standing) and clamber up onto my shoulder.. never could get used to it licking my ear lobe though.. .. it would approach my kids too but never the wife or strangers.. as soon as someone strange came it it was defensive mode.. head bobbing and a slight sideways posture with the tail raised and slightly forward.. got whipped on the face one.. boy, that severely hurt!!

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#26 Adam

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Posted 14 March 2007 - 09:26 PM

Also, the Acheronians weren't pre-human, they were Hyborians. Howard himself said so. I'm afraid that Dale's whole massive "pre-humans=Elder Race=Acheronians" theory is built upon sand (and The Ashes of Angels). I'll be starting a new post about it soon.[/font]


Very interesting - did you create this post?

Any link to it maybe? :)

I'd be more than happy to discuss connections between Acheronians and Hyborians.

#27 Taranaich

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Posted 14 March 2007 - 09:56 PM

Well , did it breath fire , or just have bad breath ? I think Howard kept his monsters as firmly grounded in reality as they could be while still conveying the impression of being monsters . The unmistakeable description of the dinosaur 'dragon' in Red Nails frintzt. We know nowadays those dinos were vegetarians , but 70 years ago they didn't know that yet . Being a vegetarian or carnivore & how vicious either would still be wasn't deciphered yet in popular knowledge - so a dinosaur served perfectly well as the 'dragon' in that tale . Adult iguanas are 95% vegetarian - but I had a maturing 'teenage' ig. that would combat-dance & attack himself in the mirror until I'd get tired of the racket , get up & shoo him out of the room , then all wound up , he would chase my cats around & come after me biting & tail-whipping , hilarious with a little lizard( relatively speaking) - but imagine an iguana that was the size of a car , vegetarian or not - I'd be running !! ( & I'm a silly reptile fan ) that dinosaur/dragon was plenty menacing enough & he called it a dragon 'in the story' though it was clear to us 'outside the story' what it actually was .


This makes me wonder: do we actually know that the dragon of Red Nails was a carnivore? Lots of herbivorous animals use their teeth and jaws in combat, perhaps this dragon was just very territorial and killed the horses because it felt invaded? Alternately, there IS a precedent for creatures that start as herbivores and evolve into carnivores: Andrewsarchus, the biggest predatory land mammal known to science, was evolved from the ungulates, which is most famous for sheep and llamas! (link to a big picture of Andrewsarchus, he's freaking HUGE) One could imagine a relative of one of these big dudes being one of the fabled "wolves" of Hyrkania!

Back on topic: this story seems to be the "weirdest" of Howard's Conan tales, with some of the most unusual beasties Howard wrote of in a Conan tale. The woman-voiced toad-thing, the invisible thing with burning breath, the giant carnivorous plant. It's interesting that the most "normal" creature in the dungeon is an 80-foot albino snake!

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#28 deuce

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Posted 14 March 2007 - 10:07 PM

Also, the Acheronians weren't pre-human, they were Hyborians. Howard himself said so. I'm afraid that Dale's whole massive "pre-humans=Elder Race=Acheronians" theory is built upon sand (and The Ashes of Angels). I'll be starting a new post about it soon.[/font]


Very interesting - did you create this post?

Any link to it maybe? :)

I'd be more than happy to discuss connections between Acheronians and Hyborians.


Hey Adam! I haven't got to it yet (surgery and funerals intervened). It just sort of slipped my mind. I'll let you know when I post it.

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#29 Adam

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Posted 14 March 2007 - 10:19 PM

Thanks :) Looking forward to it :)

#30 Guest_Tu for Kull_*

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 12:53 PM

Greetings!
When I first read "Red Nails" over 30 years ago,I thought that the dragon was a T-rex,which was a carnivore.It seems in nature,that animals with big teeth didn't eat tofu! :P
Back to "Citadel" unique in that Conan is befriended by a wizard!He usually wacks off their heads!

Tu

Edited by Tu for Kull, 15 March 2007 - 12:54 PM.


#31 texas pict

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 02:29 PM

"Lions are slaying the horses!" cried Valeria.
"Lions, nothing!" snorted Conan, his eyes blazing. "Did you hear a lion roar? Neither did I! Listen to those bones snap - not even a lion could make that much noise killing a horse."

'From beyond the thicket came the noisy crunching of bones and the loud rending of flesh, together with the grinding, slobbering sounds of a horrible feast.'

"Through the thicket was thrust a head of nightmare and lunacy. Grinning jaws bared rows of dripping yellow tusks, above the yawning wrinkled saurian-like snout. Huge eyes, like those of a python a thousand times magnified, stared unwinkingly at the petrified humans clinging to the rock above. Blood smeared the scaly, flabby lips and dripped from the huge mouth.'

-from Red Nails

I would have to conclude this was not a herbivore. I think meat is on the menu for this beastie!

Edited by texas pict, 15 March 2007 - 02:30 PM.


#32 Taranaich

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 09:17 PM

I don't know, hippos are known to make just as big a mess out of sharks and crocodiles. But I agree, I think the dragon is carnivorous, or at least omnivorous.

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#33 PainBrush

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 10:17 PM

I agree with that omnivorous idea . They have recently proven & I have seen the films of 'vegetarian' Hippos actually eating the dead animals left over from the crocodiles slaughter of the migrating herds ! Buffalo , Zebra & whatever the other ones were . They knew for years & years that hippos on occasion would chase crocs. away from something they had just killed & the hippos would lick , sniff , nudge-(nudge-nudge-wink-wink) at & appear to be trying to wake the dead animal up , just like they do with one of their own that dies . It 'almost ' seemed as if they mourned a reptile killing & eating another mammal , kind of like elephants caressing elephant bones in remembrance & mourning . Recently camera crews kept the cameras rolling on the all-day long 'mourning' rituals of the hippos & found out that the big ones after they finally realise the animal isn't waking up - they started to eat the carcasses !!

That iguana I mentioned above & several others I had over the years , they're mostly vegetarian but will when they get larger try to & on occasion succeed in eating birds , mice , worms , bugs , & anything else they can catch tho they're still 'mainly' vegetarians & don't really need animal protein . The size of vegetarian pet iguanas is usually limited to 4 or 5 feet from head to long tail-end , but over the years I have seen several that were fed a mixed diet for years of vegetarian stuff , mice , worms , eggs , meat scraps , soft dog or cat-food etc. etc. & they were like 7 feet long with broken off short-stubbed tails !! ( broken off from slapping their tails at each other , dogs or people ! ), they weighed in at about 20 to 35 pounds from animal to animal !!!! & Were well over 40 years old . I've never even seen a water-monitor get to quite that size . They were no longer bright green - but mostly grey with big knobs on their heads & their dew-flaps under their chins larger than a mans hand . Claws larger than a dogs . Very dinosaurish looking . They were incidentally too aggressive to handle , to get too near , or to put together with any smaller Iguanas or other animals because they would kill them territorially , then they would eat them !

The guy who owned those at this particular petshop told me all of that , along with his horror story of once when someone brought him a nile monitor 3 or 4 feet long , late in the day & he had no extra cage for it . So he had no prior trouble with 3 or 4 'LARGE' water monitors he kept together ( those huge muscular ones , second in size & weight only to Komodo dragons ), the largest being well over 5 foot & the smallest still much larger & heavier than the skinny Nile monitor , so he threw it in their cage hoping they wouldn't kill it , they all avoided each other till he left the shop . In the morning 'all' those chunky Komodo-dragon looking water-monitors were all dead & the champion was the skinny little Nile Monitor , a little torn & beat up , but who had eaten a large part of a couple of the other bigger lizards !! He was stitching up a long scar on the little dinosaurs leg when I came in to his shop .

A lot of bird species are opportunistic or 'omnivorous' too on occasion , meaning they eat fruits , seeds , grains , bugs , small animals , worms etc. No-ones still positive yet if most dinosaur species were closer to warm-blooded birds or cold-blooded reptiles - but theres evidence right there that 'both' groups ( & obviously mammals too ) had & still do , omnivores , or scavengers , even cannibals . Why would dinosaurs be any different ? So the dino crunching up & eating the horses in Red Nails doesn't seem too alien to me . The wierd part is none of the stuff I mentioned above except maybe about the Iguanas was known in Howards day . ( & the birds too , duh.....I forgot that )

Edited by PAINBRUSH, 18 March 2007 - 07:15 AM.

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#34 Axerules

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Posted 16 May 2007 - 12:42 AM

This is one of my favourite Conan stories. The weird elements have already been mentioned but IMO it's strange nobody talked about the short poems in the beginning of each chapter in this thread. They're incredible. They capture the spirit of the story so well and are so powerful ! I like all of them and read them again and again.
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#35 timeless

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Posted 16 May 2007 - 01:45 AM

Pelias is probably the only wizard Howard created that was a decent guy.
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#36 Axerules

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Posted 16 May 2007 - 02:31 AM

Pelias is probably the only wizard Howard created that was a decent guy.

Even if most of the sorcerers in REH's Conan stories are supposed to be evil or doing some kind of "weird science", a few of them would qualify as "decent". In The Hour of the Dragon Zelata the prophetess and Hadrathus (perhaps also a sorcerer) came to help Conan in his fight again Xaltotun.

Edited by Axerules, 14 November 2007 - 02:54 AM.

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#37 BlackTattoo

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Posted 14 June 2007 - 11:12 PM

This makes me wonder: do we actually know that the dragon of Red Nails was a carnivore? Lots of herbivorous animals use their teeth and jaws in combat, perhaps this dragon was just very territorial and killed the horses because it felt invaded? Alternately, there IS a precedent for creatures that start as herbivores and evolve into carnivores: Andrewsarchus, the biggest predatory land mammal known to science, was evolved from the ungulates, which is most famous for sheep and llamas! (link to a big picture of Andrewsarchus, he's freaking HUGE) One could imagine a relative of one of these big dudes being one of the fabled "wolves" of Hyrkania!


Look at the picture of Andrewsarchus! That was a hungry prehistoric wolf looking ungulate - check out the guy in the fawn shirt / jacket at the bottom right of the picture!
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#38 Fernando

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Posted 07 March 2008 - 01:18 AM

Other interesting point of that tale is the Conan's acttitude toward women. In The Frost Giant's Daughter, the 16 years-old Cimmerian almost rapes Atali. However, after 40, King Conan is a man who is doubtless lovely with the women from his harem:

and Conan?s girls were dragged to his quarters. The people muttered at the sight of the royal beauties writhing in the brutal hands of the iron-clad retainers ? dark-eyed damsels of Poitain, slim black-haired wenches from Zamora, Zingara and Hyrkania, Brythunian girls with tousled yellow heads, all weeping with fright and shame, unused to brutality


This shows how good those women were cared by a mature King Conan, whose way to act with women improved along the years :) . Other interesting point is about the women of Conan's harem. Though REH, in the same yarn, speaks about their "white skins" before the excerpt above, it seems most of them were dark-skinned (Zamorans, Zingarans and Hyrkanians) :wub: .

#39 Jason A.

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 07:49 PM

I just read the first part of this story and am really enjoying it. This is my second fresh Conan tale I am reading. I have these in the Coming of Conan the Cimmerian, but I read the Dark Horse comic since its inception. So I already knew how The Frost Giants Daughter, God in the Bowl and Tower of the Elephant. As they have not got to any of the Howard King Conan tales those are still untouched for me.

My favorite scene from part 1 was how he described Conan holding all those swordsman at bay by himself, and his sword dripping blood like a cleaver as he was circled with dead bodies of his own making. That was bad ass.

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#40 Yar Afzal

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Posted 27 July 2009 - 07:04 AM

My favorite part of this story (and a lot of these types of tales) is when the real jerks that are the mortal, human villians gets what he's earned from Conan and his current set of allies. The punk from Pellia (who's name I have forgotten) who tried to steal the throne from Conan through a betraying deal with Amalrus and Strabonus (Cool, I remembered! :lol: ) really did deserve his long drop to a sudden stop, especially after slaughtering protesters in the streets. And of course Amalrus, the back-stabbing king of Ophir, got owned by Prospero while Strabonus, the cruel king of Koth, got his helping of kingly justice from the Cimmerian himself! ^_^
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