DeCamp timeline is nothing i would know. Conan isnt a Saga like the paperback pastiche era to me. I dont worry about chronology just like way REH wrote it. Doesnt matter if he met Belit before or after this story. I reacted the fact he did meet the woman that he described.
I understand. I've become like you. For years, the "completist" in me wanted to know the timeline. Then, when I discovered that there were multiple, disagreeing timelines, I started to put together my own. And, during that exercise, I realized that it didn't matter. The famous quote where REH says something to the effect that he wrote the stories out of order, as if sitting down to drink with the barbarian while he recounts episodes of his life. One never does that in chronological order.
So, I really don't care about the order as much anymore, and I care less and less about what does and does not support canon. I read Turtledove's book and loved it (Conan of Venarium), but I see, for many, that the book turns people off because it breaks canon in many places. I say, "So what."
I also like what L. Sprague de Camp said about the stories and the parts that collide--he presents it as if the Hyborian Age were a real part of history, and Conan is a real mythical figure. But, it was so long ago that the are bound to be discrepentcie--just like there are with many real-world myth (like King Arthur).
So, I try to read each story on its own merits and enjoy it on that level.
I am reading through the old Bantam series right now, though. So, maybe that's influencing me to think in chronological terms at the moment.
EDIT: There is a couple of neat perks I get from reading stories in an order, though. First off, certain things "make sense". For example, in the Offutt trilogy, Conan breaks the tip off his sword. If you read the book out of "order", then this just seems like some sword. But, if you read it not long after you do the short story The Thing In the Crypt, the reader realizes that this sword is the very same that Conan took from the old crypt. And, in breaking the tip off the blade, serves as a reason the ancient sword doesn't show up in later stories.
I think that's kinda neat.
The same holds for reading recurring characters. The're rare in Conan tales, but it does happen when Conan will see a familiar face in a story. That continuity is pleasing to read.
Lastly, sometimes Conan's mood or point of view is broadened when you read things in an "order". Sometimes, that's just me reading things in between the lines that aren't there. But, nevertheless, it's pleasant to see a broader character with the depth of the previous stories bringing all that weight to whatever short story you happen to be reading.
So, while I'm not a chronology junky anymore, I do derive at least a little enjoyment from reading things in a perceived order.
Edited by Boot, 27 February 2012 - 03:38 AM.