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#1 Speelie

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Posted 03 March 2007 - 02:40 AM

I'm going ahead and launching this thread, because I'm eager to discuss Black Colossus. I gained a whole new appareciation for it after reading the Lord of Samarcand collection, as I'll explain below.

*****Note: A few spoilers are found towards the bottom of this piece!***********************************



First however, let me repeat a point I made last month in the discussion of Queen of the Black Coast. So far as I can tell, REH took the title "Black Colossus" from a throw-away line in the previous Conan story. I haven't noticed any other rationale for that term within the story of that title, unless it is intended as a reference to larger than average Conan, with his black mane.

Some years ago, I considered Black Colossus a marginal story. IMHO, it and The Scarlet Citadel pale in comparison to the more fully realized The Hour of the Dragon, which greatly expands on the themes of the earlier tales. I prefer the more fleshed-out later story, though I can see how some would prefer the relative conciseness of those earlier pieces. However, Patrice Louinet makes an excellent point, among many other keen observations, when he notes in his introduction to the Bison Lord of Samarcand collection that Black Colossus was written about the same time asThe Shadow of the Vulture, and it allowed REH to write a story similar to his "Oriental" tales, but in a made-up milieu that required far less time research time prior to writing.

I was then able to see how Black Colossus and The Scarlet Citadel are very much cast from the same mold as the Oriental stories, in that they cast an adventurer lose in the midst of a war, and follow how he overcomes all the obstacles in his way, as he heads to his inevitable fate (whether it be triumph or death).

This was a key in helping me understand a point made by various REH scholars. The Conan stories are each a reflection of what was in REH's mind at that time. Thus The God in the Bowl shows REH during his attempts to write detective fiction, while Beyond the Black River and The Black Stranger are indicative of his growing interest in writing westerns. And Black Colossus similarly ties in with REH's Oriental adventures. I've come to see that a valid way of reading Conan is to not worry about the order in which the stories were written, or their placement in the character's career, but to follow a third option, and to read them alongside the related-genre pieces.

Back to Black Colossus, part of my enjoyment of it is in treating it as another recounting of a military campaign, albeit even more fictionalized than the related-genre Oriental adventures. But it goes deeper, what sets it apart from many other REH stories is that he indulges in the sensual aspects to be found. REH had his kinky side, but I'm not used to seeing it mixed so completely with the manly adventure parts. Because really, the star of the piece isn't Conan, it's Princess Yasmela. she's lonely and sexually frustrated, and seeking a strong man to ease her troubles. Natohk isn't the answer, his dream-advances repulse her, so she turns to the paternal figure of Mitra. She intends to go before his idol naked, and in the event, prostrates herself, before receiving guidance. She then meets up with Conan, and is quickly imagining herself getting busy with him, and only really feels at peace when she can sleep on the ground at Conan's feet, wrapped in his cloak.

In the end, the baddie is defeated, and Yasmela and Conan do bump uglies, and REH's letters make is plain that he was quite aware of what he was doing in writing his story in such a way. Louinet makes the point in Hyborian Genesis that an earlier draft of Black Colossus had included a mention of a naked Yasmela being switched (essentially, whipped) on her birthday every year while growing up. So as I indicaed above, REH was giving some rein to his kinky side in this story, and it works for me far better than the more chaste sort of "romance" that wa sthe norm for pulp fiction of the day.

There's lots more to talk about, such as whether Amalric in The Hour of the Dragon was intended to be the same guy as Amalric of Nemedia in Black Colossus, but I'll leave off for now to let others get in their say!

Edited by Kortoso, 31 July 2009 - 11:01 PM.


#2 Almuric

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Posted 03 March 2007 - 05:01 AM

I really enjoy this one. This one, "People of the Black Circle" and Hour of the Dragon are the ones I'd most like to see adapted as movies. I figure the story provides the first and last acts, the screenwriter would just have to expand the middle a bit and we'd have a fine 90 min movie. Just my opinion.

And I love the Shemite's hysterical monologue about Natohk (Khotan) which begins thusly:

"Whence came Natohk? . . . Out of the desert on a night when the world was blind and wild with mad clouds driven in frenzied flight across the shuddering stars, and the howling of the wind was mingled with the shrieking of the spirits of the wastes."

Great stuff.
"It is more than a mortal sea. Your hands are red with blood and you follow a red sea-path, yet the fault is not wholly with you. Almighty God, when will the reign of blood cease?"

Turlogh shook his head. "Not so long as the race lasts."


--- The Dark Man, by Robert E. Howard

#3 Kortoso

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Posted 03 March 2007 - 05:31 PM

Speelie, thanks for picking this up.

With a snarl Conan bounded from his boulder and smote him with the beef-bone; he dropped, blood starting from nose and mouth. Conan drew his sword, his eyes slits of blue bale-fire.


I personally enjoy this story. We get an inside look at the religion of Mitra, a set-piece battle with the Stygians, some rare humor, and in fact an interesting bit of Hyborian geography to boot.

#4 Buxom Sorceress

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Posted 04 March 2007 - 01:37 PM

BLACK COLOSSUS - by REH
[ Weird Tales june 1933. review of del rey 2003. 31 pages ]

In the mysterious ancient ruins of Kuthchemes: mostly covered in sand and lost in barren desert; Shevatas the trembling thief tries to raid a huge ivory dome for treasure...

The adventure of Shevatas is a great introduction to this exciting tale of evil sorcery and epic battle.
Enjoy: the naked terror and torment of a beautiful young princess; the surprising fate of a lucky Cimmerian mercenary; a huge bloody battle; and weird ancient demonic magic.

Conan really enjoys himself in this tale and seems to have command of his own destiny for a short while...[ but we know what Mitra and the other gods have got lined up for Conan next ;) ]
Overall rating = 9 /10 .
[ but i rate all the battle and supernatural sections as 10 /10. great stuff.]
----
~~~ Details, notes, and things to ponder ~~~
The only thing that lets down this tale is the VERY corny way in which the wimpy princess chooses/meets Conan after spoken advice from the god Mitra! but this is soon forgotten because rest of story is such great exciting sword & sorcery.

...CONAN notes...
his animal magnetism to women [p164].
"born in the midst of a battle" [p166].
Conan and 'death' [p170].

I specially like the evil power of Natohk [Thugra], and the flying chariot complete with mysterious demonic steed and rebel driver. B)

What happens to the vast Treasure ?
[page 173] "the treasure was untouched" reported the 'thief of Shumir' to Conan. [i'm surprised the thief and his mates didn't just loot all the treasure and leave 'General Pretender Conan' to fight the battle? ]
some may consider it cursed? but someone will loot it eventually?
a new pastiche tale could start like this...After loving Yasmela on the evil altar Conan left her naked, exhausted, but satisfied as she lay there panting on the cool black stone. then he rode after the treasure in the dome...wealth like that could buy a 1000 buxom 'princesses' and much, much more...
[ or perhaps, the fleeing rebel demon in the chariot will cause the dome to sink deep beneath the sands...to be lost again for ages?]
----
and my thanks to previous posters for mentioning some of my fave parts of this tale. :)
Mitra bids that more comments flow here like a river of wisdom...

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."

#5 Taranaich

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Posted 04 March 2007 - 04:13 PM

I love the self-deprecating humour in this story, particularly when Yasmela dramatically reveals Conan gnawing on a big beef bone like a hungry pup.

This story also has a sense of grand menace, which was most noticeable in Dragon and Citadel, but I personally thought the Battle of Shamla Pass was one of Howard's best, with fantastic descriptions of bloody conflict and a great sense of scale: I think it's also the biggest battle Howard described. I'm not sure of the exact numbers, but the desert hordes must number in the tends of thousands. Generally an army cannot exceed much more than 125,000 due to lack of water, even less so in the desert, but when you have the terrible power of a sorcerer who knows how vast an army he could command?

Natohk was always interesting to me as he is one of the few sorcerers to work independently, without human lackeys or puppets. Xaltotun had Amalric, Valerius and Tarascus as vassals, while Tsotha-Lanti had Amalrus and Strabonus. Natohk seems to boldly disregard sorcerous convention and appoint himself as warmaster. I also like his hands-on approach: riding in a chariot, applying mysterious powders to the front line (some form of sorcerous gunpowder?) and forcing the army onward through sorcerous persuasion.

I also like the clash of medieval-style knights against New Kingdom Egyptians, which makes me wish Howard did more culture clashes of this type, rather than the mock medieval battles of Dragon or Citadel.

Although the story is tight and effective, in some ways I wish he added a bit more detail about Kutamun: as it stands, he is an imposing foe, but we don't know anything about what he was doing with Natohk, or what sort of guy he was, which is a shame as it would've made the battle with Conan mean more. Even a little introductory bit like Howard did with other Conan villains like Baal-Pteor would've been great, but as it is he's just a giant obstacle.

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#6 MaxTheSilent

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Posted 14 March 2007 - 11:07 AM

Definitely one of Howard's most pulse-pounding stories. The battle is so vivid and richly described. The sheer madness, agony and rabid joy of the slaughter is never more eloquent than from Howard's pen.

I love the humour in the exchanges between Conan and Amalric. Yasmela is a typical 'Howard woman', in the best and worst sense.

All-in-all, I thoroughly enjoyed this story. It had an epic scope that, while incomplete in many ways, is just further evidence of Howard's vast imagination and skill.

Edited by MaxTheSilent, 14 March 2007 - 11:15 AM.


#7 Adam

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Posted 14 March 2007 - 09:14 PM

I love this short story :)

My favourites moments in it are Shevatas's introduction (with this giant snake/viper), Conan revealed devouring this beef :) , the moment when it may seem to the reader the Mitra spoke to the princess (REH quickly corrects it that the voice could be the one of a hidden priest) and last but not least when the thief from Shumir sees the face of Nathok. The battle is, of course, wonderful as well as the ending with the queen :D You won't find many such sex scenes in REH's books :)

There's lots more to talk about, such as whether Amalric in The Hour of the Dragon was intended to be the same guy as Amalric of Nemedia in Black Colossus, but I'll leave off for now to let others get in their say!


In my opinion Amalric was a common Hyborian name REH used when introducing Hyborian characters.

I'm also wondering what others are thinking about it :)

#8 nabonidus11

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 05:00 PM

BLACK COLOSSUS - by REH
[ Weird Tales june 1933. review of del rey 2003. 31 pages ]
What happens to the vast Treasure ?
[page 173] "the treasure was untouched" reported the 'thief of Shumir' to Conan. [i'm surprised the thief and his mates didn't just loot all the treasure and leave 'General Pretender Conan' to fight the battle? ]
some may consider it cursed? but someone will loot it eventually?
a new pastiche tale could start like this...After loving Yasmela on the evil altar Conan left her naked, exhausted, but satisfied as she lay there panting on the cool black stone. then he rode after the treasure in the dome...wealth like that could buy a 1000 buxom 'princesses' and much, much more...
[ or perhaps, the fleeing rebel demon in the chariot will cause the dome to sink deep beneath the sands...to be lost again for ages?]
----
and my thanks to previous posters for mentioning some of my fave parts of this tale. :)
Mitra bids that more comments flow here like a river of wisdom...


I think that the treasure went to free Yasmela's Brother from the King of Ophir.

I really do like this story. This is an underdog story. A vast hybrid horde (the collosus of the title?), led by a resurrected wizard (also possibly the collosus of the title) prepared to sweep into Hyboria with only a slapped together army to stand in the way. The centerpoint of this story is that without Conan's skill as a tactician the battle would have been lost. He is a born leader but really doesn't know it yet. This battle he won even against the odds. Other battles he lost but still held out against the odds (Scarlet Citadel and A Witch Shall Be Born both have battles that Conan lost). In some stories the hand of fate appears, gods and queens (in this story) and sorcerors (Scarlet Citadel and Hour of the Dragon) see Conan's potential and react to it.

I like looking at the stories in context of REH's other story production. That does add some insight to the different feel of each Conan story.
'Men are fools, as always," grunted Conan. "If the plague struck all who sinned, then by Crom, there wouldn't be enough left to count the living!..."

#9 Taranaich

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 08:51 PM

The centerpoint of this story is that without Conan's skill as a tactician the battle would have been lost. He is a born leader but really doesn't know it yet. This battle he won even against the odds. Other battles he lost but still held out against the odds (Scarlet Citadel and A Witch Shall Be Born both have battles that Conan lost). In some stories the hand of fate appears, gods and queens (in this story) and sorcerors (Scarlet Citadel and Hour of the Dragon) see Conan's potential and react to it.


On of the best things about Howard's battles is that they are tactically sound. Conan does everything a good military commander would do, and what's really impressive is that the idiot Thespides does EXACTLY what many glory-hungry morons did in real life. Many lords and barons eager to impress their peers would charge recklessly without surveying the situation and lose their lives, sometimes even the battle and war. It's largely this misguided bravery that cost the French Crecy and Agincourt, as the fools charged uphill through mud straight into English longbows, which is the worst tactical charge I can think of short of cavalry charging head-on into pikes (which the English did at Bannockburn, the numpties). The final battle in the Hour of the Dragon can be seen as a Hyborian equivalent of the Battle of Crecy: perhaps the battle in Black Colossus was based on a battle of the Crusades. Ascalon perhaps? I'm not really up to speed on Crusade battles so perhaps someone can think of a better one.

It's also nice that he didn't rely on the timely intervention of vast reinforcements or, heaven forbid, the ancient Kothic god in the draft, that would've been worse than Deus ex Machina Airlines in Lord of the Rings. :ph34r:

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#10 PainBrush

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 10:35 PM

There's a hundred things I like about the story , but what I like best is what isn't directly addressed , yet is a big part of the story . A drunken , questionable rogue walking down the street & probably towards some prison cell sooner than later , by 'fate' 'destiny' , or the 'hands of a god' (?) - gets picked by the thinnest , whispiest & flimsiest twist of circumstances , & rises to the occasion to take a big part in map-changing events ! I love that about Howards work . In ANY other writers hand , by the time the protagonist gets his new job & plate armor - most of us readers would be saying to ourselves "piss-off !" & slamming the book shut . For me at least , everything up to that point has actually 'built-up' credibility for the rest of the story rather than whittle away at it like it would with a lesser author . To me , trying to summarize what just happened in Howards stories always seems to reveal a lot more to the story than you pick up while actually reading it .

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#11 Speelie

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Posted 17 March 2007 - 06:42 AM

Painbrush brings up one of the points that I left for later. I like how this story shows the reader the first glimpse of Conan's future success as a military commander. Weird Tales readers already knew from The Phoenix on the Sword and The Scarlet Citadel that Conan was a highly regarded soldier, who then seized the kingship of Aquilonia. Black Colossus tells of the events of Conan's first opportunity to be more than, in modern terms, a company commander. If he had failed against Natohk (and survived, of course), he probably never would have become Captain of the Guard in Khauran, or a General in Aquilonia. But Conan quickly showed a knack for it, and the rest is history...well, fictional history ;)

Edited for typos, lotsa typos...

Edited by Speelie, 17 March 2007 - 06:43 AM.


#12 Axerules

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Posted 18 March 2007 - 10:57 PM

There's a hundred things I like about the story , but what I like best is what isn't directly addressed , yet is a big part of the story . I love that about Howards work . In ANY other writers hand , by the time the protagonist gets his new job & plate armor - most of us readers would be saying to ourselves "piss-off !" & slamming the book shut . For me at least , everything up to that point has actually 'built-up' credibility for the rest of the story rather than whittle away at it like it would with a lesser author .

Howard was such a great storyteller ! I do agree with you, in other authors hands this beginning could be boring or would lack of credibility. But REH was able to make even stories with lots of coincidences believable. Taranaich wrote that Natohk worked without human puppets and then that we lack of information about Kutamun (I do agree, a little introduction like with Baal-Pteor would have been nice). But Natohk had thousands of followers! I think that except this Kutamun the others were only meant to be underlings, subjugated by his charisma. REH described how he built his power in Shem before attacking the Hyborians, and it shows the awe of his followers.

Edited by Axerules, 18 March 2007 - 11:56 PM.

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#13 Taranaich

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 11:13 AM

Taranaich wrote that Natohk worked without human puppets and then that we lack of information about Kutamun (I do agree, a little introduction like with Baal-Pteor would have been nice). But Natohk had thousands of followers! I think that except this Kutamun the others were only meant to be underlings, subjugated by his charisma. REH described how he built his power in Shem before attacking the Hyborians, and it shows the awe of his followers.


By "puppets" I meant politicians and nobles whom he used to exploitthe masses instead of himself. Tsotha-Lanti used Strabonus, Amalrus and the others to amass armies and political heft. Natohk seemed to just cut out those middlemen and appointed himself as their ruler, rather than get Kutamun or someone to be the figurehead leader while he operated from the shadows. I guess he just prefers the more hands-on approach to Tsotha-Lanti's more secretive puppet-master machinations.

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#14 Axerules

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 11:24 PM

By "puppets" I meant politicians and nobles whom he used to exploitthe masses instead of himself. Tsotha-Lanti used Strabonus, Amalrus and the others to amass armies and political heft. Natohk seemed to just cut out those middlemen and appointed himself as their ruler, rather than get Kutamun or someone to be the figurehead leader while he operated from the shadows. I guess he just prefers the more hands-on approach to Tsotha-Lanti's more secretive puppet-master machinations.

Yes, he had another approach: he is a prophet and a priest for desert dwelling people ." A new prophet had risen among the nomads. (... ) and a terrible leader who led his swiftly increasing hordes to victory." in chapter 2. And later, when the Shemite thief talks to Conan : "with the others I knelt before him when he made incantations to Set. But I did not thrust my nose in the sand as the rest did." The difference is IMO not only between Natohk's or Tsotha's preferences, Tsotha also sweared by Set. But Natohk built his power among nomads, before conquering the city-states of Shem. Xaltotun or Tsotha were powers behind the throne in Koth and Nemedia, civilized countries that could not be ruled by a sorcerer or a priest of Set posing as a prophet. The fierce nomads clans would probably not accept a chief controled by a sorcerer, so Natohk had to be a warmaster as well as a prophet to unite them. No need for politicians and nobles in the nomad clans.
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#15 deuce

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Posted 20 March 2007 - 10:06 PM

By "puppets" I meant politicians and nobles whom he used to exploitthe masses instead of himself. Tsotha-Lanti used Strabonus, Amalrus and the others to amass armies and political heft. Natohk seemed to just cut out those middlemen and appointed himself as their ruler, rather than get Kutamun or someone to be the figurehead leader while he operated from the shadows. I guess he just prefers the more hands-on approach to Tsotha-Lanti's more secretive puppet-master machinations.

Yes, he had another approach: he is a prophet and a priest for desert dwelling people ." A new prophet had risen among the nomads. (... ) and a terrible leader who led his swiftly increasing hordes to victory." in chapter 2. And later, when the Shemite thief talks to Conan : "with the others I knelt before him when he made incantations to Set. But I did not thrust my nose in the sand as the rest did." The difference is IMO not only between Natohk's or Tsotha's preferences, Tsotha also sweared by Set. But Natohk built his power among nomads, before conquering the city-states of Shem. Xaltotun or Tsotha were powers behind the throne in Koth and Nemedia, civilized countries that could not be ruled by a sorcerer or a priest of Set posing as a prophet. The fierce nomads clans would probably not accept a chief controled by a sorcerer, so Natohk had to be a warmaster as well as a prophet to unite them. No need for politicians and nobles in the nomad clans.


I think both of y'all make very cogent points. Natohk (TK) always reminded me a little of "the Mahdi" of Sudan (I read Guns of Khartoum before I did "Colossus"). I believe our own Dave Hardy (hey Dave!) wrote an article for The Cimmerian drawing parallels with another "veiled prophet" or two, but I have yet to read it.

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#16 Axerules

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 05:29 AM

Natohk (TK) always reminded me a little of "the Mahdi" of Sudan (I read Guns of Khartoum before I did "Colossus"). I believe our own Dave Hardy (hey Dave!) wrote an article for The Cimmerian drawing parallels with another "veiled prophet" or two, but I have yet to read it.

I have not read Guns of Khartoum. Could it be possible for you to sum up the common things between the charaters of both stories ? And perhaps a link to the article in "The Cimmerian" (I searched on the Cimmerian website and couldn't find it, but it's probably my fault.) ? Please, it would be greatly appreciated.
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#17 deuce

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 06:13 AM

Natohk (TK) always reminded me a little of "the Mahdi" of Sudan (I read Guns of Khartoum before I did "Colossus"). I believe our own Dave Hardy (hey Dave!) wrote an article for The Cimmerian drawing parallels with another "veiled prophet" or two, but I have yet to read it.

I have not read Guns of Khartoum. Could it be possible for you to sum up the common things between the charaters of both stories ? And perhaps a link to the article in "The Cimmerian" (I searched on the Cimmerian website and couldn't find it, but it's probably my fault.) ? Please, it would be greatly appreciated.


You've put me on the spot now, Axe! Actually, it's not just "Guns", but also Khartoum (starring Charlton Heston) and the actual historical Mahdi. I guess the two main things are his sexual appetites (which lead to his demise at the hands of the hero) and the whole "prophet and desert horde"-thing. Plus, the Sudan was closely connected to Egypt (like Kuthchemes to Stygia) and Khartoum was the first European-controlled city that the Mahdi's jihad came to. Many predicted that if Khartoum fell, the rest of British-controlled Egypt would fall. Compare that situation to the Hyborian outpost of Khoraja.

As for Dave's article, I can't tell you for sure. I'm almost positive it exists. He's here on the forum. Send 'im a PM. I'm sure he'd love to point you in the right direction.
Hope that helps.

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#18 Axerules

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 12:16 AM

Thanks Deuce. Look at this, the article is called Trail of the Prophet, but I've found only a very brief excerpt on the website, it seems we have to buy The Cimmerian to read it. I have not seen the movie with Charlton Heston (do you recommend it ?), does the movie Mahdi have Natohk's sexual appetites or did you refer to Guns ? I've read that the historical Mahdi was a merchant and did some slavery before fighting the English, and that he died from smallpox, but nothing about this (I'm not a specialist of the British Empire).

Edited by Axerules, 07 April 2007 - 03:27 AM.

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#19 deuce

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Posted 27 April 2007 - 05:27 AM

Black Colossus from The Coming of Conan (Del Rey)

Chapter I

Schultz's illo: Mark depicts Kuthchemes as some sort of pseudo-Assyrian metropolis. Doesn't seem fitting for a Stygian city, IMO.
the "dry river-course": It seems to bisect Kuthchemes. The tomb of Thugra Khotan lies beside it. This must have been a sizable river to sustain a city as great as Kuthchemes. Did it arise in the Ilbars Mts.? Perhaps it was named Lethe. (p.153) ;)
Thugra Khotan's tomb: It was a "towering ivory dome" which rested upon "a gigantic pedestal of marble" fronted by "broad steps". The steps ended in a "great bronze door". Around the the shining dome stretched "golden heiroglyphics" which were "yards long". "No man on earth" could read the heiroglyphics inlaid thereon. The dome was surmounted by a shining "spired gold cap". (p.153)

Shevatas:was a Zamorian. "Wiry and lithe", "very dark", with a "small round" shaven head, Shevatas had a "narrow vulture-like face" with "keen black eyes". A "master thief of Zamora", Shevatas "was a far traveller and had looted the treasures of many kingdoms". His "name was spoken with awe in the dives of the Maul" and "beneath the temples of Bel". Shevatas "lived in songs and myths for a thousand years". (p.154) That would mean his fame outlived the Hyborian Age. Why hasn't there been an "AoC" series on this bad mo-fo? BTW, the sense I'm getting from p.154 is that the name of the "City of Thieves" was "Zamora". "Arenjun" was an invention of deCamp/Carter.

Kuthchemes:lay "a few days' camel-ride" to the northeast of where the Styx made its westward bend. (p.154) That would place Kuthchemes about 75-150 miles from the Styx.
Stygia: "Three thousand years" before Conan, "the kingdoms of Stygia stretched" over the lands of Shem "and into the uplands" of Koth.
Thugra Khotan:was the "dark sorceror", "priest-king" and "last magician" of Kuthchemes, three thousand years before Conan. When the Hyborians rode down from the north and overran Kuthchemes, the Stygian "swallowed a strange terrible poison" and was locked "into the tomb he himself prepared" by his "masked priests". TK, whom a few thought "more than human" was worshipped into the time of Conan by "a mongrel degraded cult". (p.154-155) The "masked priests" remind me of the priests of black Khemi in "Dragon".
Kuthchemes: Within sight of TK's sepulcher stood "the great hall wherein chained captives" had "their heads hacked off" to honor "Set, the Serpent-god of Stygia". "Near by" was the pit "wherein screaming victims were fed to a nameless amorphic monstrosity". Was Kuthchemes sited where it was to provide ready access to the "monstrosity"? The city's primary troops seem to have been "archers". The fall of Kuthchemes marked the end of "the northern Stygian kingdom". (p.155)

Hyborians: The "titanic drift" to the south by the Hyborians extended "over centuries and ages". (p.154) During the reign of TK, the Hyborians established "the kingdom of Koth". The Hyborian riders who threw down "the marble towers" of Kuthchemes were "gray-eyed, tawny-haired barbarians" clad "in wolfskins and scale-mail" and wielding "iron swords". (p.155)

Skelos:evidently had "votaries" who whispered under midnight trees. (p.155)
Vathelos the Blind: He seems to have been the author of "forbidden iron-bound books". (p.155) Why have none of the pastiche writers ever used/mentioned this guy? BTW, this passage implies Shevatas could read.
Shevatas: His quest to obtain "Zingaran swamp-serpent" venom "would have made a saga in itself". (p.156)

Tomb of TK: To open the portal, one must press unseen projections in the sill while muttering a "long-forgotten incantation". Upon striking the center of the door, it slides down a "short narrow corridor" fashioned, like the exterior dome, entirely of ivory. From one side of the corridor is an aperture leading to the lair of the sepulchre's guardian-serpent. At the end of the corridor, the door could be "slid aside", revealing the main burial chamber. "The ivory floor" of the tomb is covered "inches deep with gold dust". Presumably, the interior/ceiling of the dome is made of ivory as well. In the ceiling of the dome is a "gigantic red jewel" which pulses with a "crimson light" of almost unbearable intensity. "Directly under" the jewel, in the center of the chamber, stands a crystal dais upon which lies the body of Thugra Khotan. All around the dais is treasure "heaped in staggering profusion". (p.155-157) While the tomb may have actually been made of thousands of ivory components, REH seems, IMO, to be saying the tomb is wrought from a single piece of ivory. This reminds me of the city-gate of Perdondaris in Dunsany's "Idle Days on the Yann", said to have been fashioned from the tusk of a single beast.
Thugra Khotan:seems to have killed Shevatas almost instantaneously upon awaking from his millenial slumber. (p.157) Obviously, TK didn't have this mojo workin' when he faced Conan.

The "tomb-serpent":was "twenty foot long". Its scales were "shimmering" and "iridescent". Its "form" was "slimy". It had "scimitar fangs" and its venom was "greenish". Evidently, the serpent's "own kind" live in the swamps of Zingara. (p.156)
Zingara: Its swamps are "fiend-haunted". (p.156)


All for now.

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#20 Taranaich

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Posted 27 April 2007 - 05:08 PM

the "dry river-course": It seems to bisect Kuthchemes. The tomb of Thugra Khotan lies beside it. This must have been a sizable river to sustain a city as great as Kuthchemes. Did it arise in the Ilbars Mts.? Perhaps it was named Lethe. (p.153) ;)


Hmm, or perhaps a tributary of the Styx?

Shevatas "lived in songs and myths for a thousand years". (p.154) That would mean his fame outlived the Hyborian Age. Why hasn't there been an "AoC" series on this bad mo-fo?


He's one of many incidental Howard characters who could have their own little cycle of adventures. I'd entertain reading a story about Shevatas or Taurus.

Kuthchemes: Within sight of TK's sepulcher stood "the great hall wherein chained captives" had "their heads hacked off" to honor "Set, the Serpent-god of Stygia". "Near by" was the pit "wherein screaming victims were fed to a nameless amorphic monstrosity". Was Kuthchemes sited where it was to provide ready access to the "monstrosity"?


It seems likely. Cities are founded close to water supply and arable land, why not a pit to the Otherworld?

Vathelos the Blind: He seems to have been the author of "forbidden iron-bound books". (p.155) Why have none of the pastiche writers ever used/mentioned this guy? BTW, this passage implies Shevatas could read.


The exact thing occurred to me. A lot had been made of Skelos and to a lesser extent Karanthes, but this Vathelos seems to have been missed out. I guess it's because we don't even know his nationality. I'd guess Hyborian personally, perhaps Nemedian or Kothian.

Shevatas: His quest to obtain "Zingaran swamp-serpent" venom "would have made a saga in itself". (p.156)

While the tomb may have actually been made of thousands of ivory components, REH seems, IMO, to be saying the tomb is wrought from a single piece of ivory. This reminds me of the city-gate of Perdondaris in Dunsany's "Idle Days on the Yann", said to have been fashioned from the tusk of a single beast.


For some reason I don't actually think that could be so far-fetched. Perhaps there's some sort of giant eldritch mollusc that produces an ivory shell, or perhaps Thugra Khotun could somehow manufacture ivory, or transmogrify existing materials into it.

Robert E. Howard, 1906 - 2006

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