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The Hour Of The Dragon: the ONLY Howard Conan Novel


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#21 Taranaich

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 06:54 PM

"O Sleeper, Awake!" was a great opening chapter, full of mystery and menace to draw the reader right in.

[quote]Again a trembling finger warned for silence. The hound outside was no longer howling. He whimpered, as with an evil dream, and then that sound, too, died away in silence, in which the yellow-haired man plainly heard the straining of the heavy door, as if something outside pushed powerfully upon it. He half turned, his hand at his sword, but the man in the ermine robe hissed an urgent warning: "Stay! Do not break the chain! And on your life do not go to the door!"[/quote]

I've always wondered what exactly was happening with the door: what were the "shapes of darkness" that followed Xaltotun from the Doors of Hell? Was it magical atmospheric pressure? Some "things" of the Outer Dark forcing through? Was the very state of reality being altered by the spell? Howard doesn't tell us, nor should he, as the ambiguity makes it all the more unsettling.

I also found this bit of foreshadowing quite interesting.

From First Chapter, "O Sleeper, Awake!"
[quote]"I was Xaltotun," he whispered. "I am dead."
"You are Xaltotun!" cried Orastes. "You are not dead! You live!"
"I am Xaltotun," came the eery whisper. "But I am dead. In my house in Khemi, in Stygia, there I died."
"And the priests who poisoned you mummified your body with their dark arts, keeping all your organs intact!" exclaimed Orastes. "But now you live again! The Heart of Ahriman has restored your life, drawn your spirit back from space and eternity."[/quote]

From Final Chapter: "The Road to Acheron"
[quote]"He was not a living man," she said. "The Heart lent him a false aspect of life, that deceived even himself. I never saw him as other than a mummy."[/quote]

Pretty convincing "aspect of life" if his resurrection caused him to break open his mummy bandages, and the conspirators felt "firm muscular flesh, vibrant with blood and life". I guess it means Zelata is just really, really perceptive, since Xaltotun does seem for all intents and purposes "alive", or gave an extremely effective impression of it.

[quote]But they lifted him upon the table, and Orastes clothed him in a curious dark velvet robe, splashed with gold stars and crescent moons, and fastened a cloth-of-gold fillet about his temples, confining the black wavy locks that fell to his shoulders.[/quote]

Reminds me of...

Posted Image

Where did the "stars and crescents" motif for wizards come from? Is it based on mythological or folkloric designs, or is it the work of later authors (Dunsany, Smith, Peake?) It might seem rather goofy for a series sorcerer to wear robes more associated with party magicians, but remember that many similar fairy tale tropes had much darker origins than Disney would have you believe.

[quote]He let them do as they would, saying nothing, not even when they set him in a carven thronelike chair with a high ebony back and wide silver arms, and feet like golden claws.[/quote]

First order of business to resurrect a wizard, apparently, is to get him pimped da hell up: luxurious cloths, check; customized crib, check; obscene jewelry, check. All Xaltotun needs is a goldfish cane and a pink fedora and he's ready to roll. :P

[quote]"No; he is a Cimmerian, one of those wild tribesmen who dwell in the gray hills of the north."
"I fought his ancestors of old," muttered Xaltotun. "Not even the kings of Acheron could conquer them."[/quote]

Pretty impressive, since the Acheronians seem to have literally earth-shattering magics and plagues, one wonders how even the Cimmerians resisted them. It's possible the Acheronians couldn't be bothered conquering the land itself (then again, why would the Aquilonians set up Venarium if it was worthless?), or that it had problems elsewhere that required their attention. I wonder if Crom got in the way of Set's magic: not on behalf of the Cimmerians, but more a "Ho You, Get Off Mah Land!" to Set and his minions. That's if Crom even exists, of course.

Robert E. Howard, 1906 - 2006

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#22 Guest_Tu for Kull_*

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Posted 29 February 2008 - 04:14 AM

Greetings!

"O Sleeper, Awake!" was a great opening chapter, full of mystery and menace to draw the reader right in.

"Stay! Do not break the chain! And on your life do not go to the door!"


I've always wondered what exactly was happening with the door: what were the "shapes of darkness" that followed Xaltotun from the Doors of Hell? Was it magical atmospheric pressure? Some "things" of the Outer Dark forcing through? Was the very state of reality being altered by the spell? Howard doesn't tell us, nor should he, as the ambiguity makes it all the more unsettling.

The tension in that room is a 100 atmospheres!
And I agree,the ambiguity gives it a great level of horror. I'll venture a guess:That was Death at the door,coming to claim its own.

Pretty convincing "aspect of life" if his resurrection caused him to break open his mummy bandages, and the conspirators felt "firm muscular flesh, vibrant with blood and life". I guess it means Zelata is just really, really perceptive, since Xaltotun does seem for all intents and purposes "alive", or gave an extremely effective impression of it.

Wasn't it the heart? He was dead :P Didn't the heart bring him back over the nameless voids,to give him the false aspect of life?

Where did the "stars and crescents" motif for wizards come from? Is it based on mythological or folkloric designs, or is it the work of later authors (Dunsany, Smith, Peake?) It might seem rather goofy for a series sorcerer to wear robes more associated with party magicians, but remember that many similar fairy tale tropes had much darker origins than Disney would have you believe.

I Googled the snocker out of this and did not find an answer.Could it be the cosmic connection? A wizard would not seem of this earth,but of the cosmos,.....

He let them do as they would, saying nothing, not even when they set him in a carven thronelike chair with a high ebony back and wide silver arms, and feet like golden claws.




"No; he is a Cimmerian, one of those wild tribesmen who dwell in the gray hills of the north."
"I fought his ancestors of old," muttered Xaltotun. "Not even the kings of Acheron could conquer them."


Pretty impressive, since the Acheronians seem to have literally earth-shattering magics and plagues, one wonders how even the Cimmerians resisted them. It's possible the Acheronians couldn't be bothered conquering the land itself (then again, why would the Aquilonians set up Venarium if it was worthless?), or that it had problems elsewhere that required their attention. I wonder if Crom got in the way of Set's magic: not on behalf of the Cimmerians, but more a "Ho You, Get Off Mah Land!" to Set and his minions. That's if Crom even exists, of course.


But it is a major theme in all of REH's tales of the Cimmerian and the Hyborian Age.

"They -my - ancestors - suffered much from the kings of Acheron" [...]
"Aye.And when the day of reckoning came,the sword was not spared.[...}


Tu

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Posted 02 March 2008 - 02:08 AM

Greetings!
Well class,if we may continue,.... :P

"It is a map you shall help us change," answered Orastes. "It is our desire first to set Tarascus on the thrown of Nemedia.


Second bad,..... :blink: Actually,they are all bad,... ;)

"The other task will be more difficult.[...]
"Their present king is the most renouned warrior amoung the western nations.[...]
His name is Conan,and no man can stand before him in battle."


Orastes goes on to repeat,what Conan will say in the tent ('A Black Wind Blows')

I think we have a donnybrook on our hands! :lol:

Tu (chime in lads,are ye drinking naught but water?)

#24 Almuric

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 04:57 AM

Wizards have a unique vulnerabily to barbarians, but why is that? Is it overconfidence? Do they not try as hard when it's just some guy with a broadsword? Or is it something else?
"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

#25 Kortoso

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 06:35 PM

Wizards have a unique vulnerabily to barbarians, but why is that? Is it overconfidence? Do they not try as hard when it's just some guy with a broadsword? Or is it something else?


We learn in Black Circle that barbarians are immune to hypnotism because they don't believe in it. Maybe it's something like that...

#26 ACertainMrDoe

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Posted 04 March 2008 - 01:31 PM

I just finished rereading HotD yesterday, for the first time after more than a decade. Yes, it feels patchy - that is because of this scavenger hunt for the Heart of Ahriman. Yes, it has some really offensive conincidences. Yes, Howard's style is not too suited to novel length.

But, my god, the slave galley scene gave me goosebumps. You will have to look very hard in any kind of literature to find any remotely similar thing. That's entertainment at it's very best.

#27 godzilladude

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Posted 04 March 2008 - 03:15 PM

Oh, and feel free to discuss which part you think best from Chapter 20.
:lol: :lol: :lol:

#28 Guest_Tu for Kull_*

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Posted 04 March 2008 - 05:54 PM

Greetings!

Wizards have a unique vulnerabily to barbarians, but why is that? Is it overconfidence? Do they not try as hard when it's just some guy with a broadsword? Or is it something else?


We learn in Black Circle that barbarians are immune to hypnotism because they don't believe in it. Maybe it's something like that...


The People of the Black Circle

The Mountain of the Black Seers

But Conan was not a son of the East.Its traditions were meaninless to him;he was a product of an utterly alien atmosphere.Hypnotism was not even a myth in Cimmeria.The heritage that prepared a native of the East for submission to the mesmerist was not his.


A Black Wind Blows,.....anyone?

Tu

#29 Buxom Sorceress

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 12:29 AM

HOUR OF THE DRAGON - by REH
[ all my notes below refer to the *CONAN THE CONQUEROR* version by Sphere UK 1976 with the great Frazetta cover of King Conan wildly leaping into battle on his charger. I can't stop admiring that epic art scene which draws you to it again and again.
I made my extensive notes in the Sphere paperback years before the del-rey REH versions were even anounced. I have not had time to check any differences between the two versions, so if any of you spot anything significantly different then please let us know so we can hammer more 'red nails' into the 'sinking figurehead' of decamp?]

HOTDragon is indeed a shining classic example of how to write great exciting, entertaining, grim, bloody, supernatural-horror, sword & sorcery/heroic fantasy. B)
This is Howard's master-class for other aspiring fantasy writers: and so many have been inspired by it over the years.

Conan's most epic tale is overflowing with so many great scenes of adventure and sorcery.
many of my fave scenes and things have already been mentioned here by other great fans, so I will try to emphasise some other aspects within HOTD...

~~~ some details, notes, and things to ponder ~~~

HOW many times does Conan wear [or assume] a DISGUISE?
Test your memory: see if you can remember them all before you read my list below?
...
...how you doing? ...
...
... think you got 'em all ? ...
...
... ok, please read on...

List of disguises:
1, as a Nemedian 'Adventurer' Warrior in gray mail [page 61].
2, to save Albiona he wears eye-patch, cloak, staff [p 81 ].
3, as a hooded Nemedian Headsman with axe [p 83 ]. [this is also my fave scene. it is brilliant, and represents the essence of grim Conan to me.]
4, as a brown oar-slave on Asura Black Pilgrim boat [p 99 ].
5, as tattered old Mercenary into Zingara [p 106].
Conan also hums old songs while he rides.
6, he pretends to be a penniless wanderer [clad in only short leather breeks] when forced to crew Venturer slave-galley [p 132].
7, as a Stygian fisherman rowing into Khemi harbour [p 139].
8, as a masked Priest of Set [p 145].
-
...did you get all 8 of them? [ if you got 7 then you did very well ].

LOVEMAKING : when Conan fiercely kisses Zenobia; REH says "even his lovemaking was violent".[p 56]
[ it's the best way to keep warm in cold Cimmeria: passionate lovemaking?? :lol: ]

Conan's HAIRY chest [p 33].
have any artists ever depicted him with a great hairy chest?

other faves...
Zelata the witch, and her wolf and eagle.
Akivasha the temptress-vamp of ancient dark power.
the vast hall of the dead, and the black-sorcery fight between the Priests of Set and the 4 hooded Khitan assassins. superb!
the 'half-raised' mummy who helps Conan out of the pyramid maze.
--
many thanks for ALL your comments and info on all the Conan tales in this fine library. :)

Mitra bids that more comments flow here like a river of wisdom...
[ i'm off to commune with Akivasha through my black Egyptian-eye mirror: i send her an unwitting archaeologist now and then, to keep her amused; she is a bottomless pit of dark knowledge for my sorcery... ;) ]

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."

#30 Guest_Tu for Kull_*

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 04:50 AM

Greetings,
"Shall we scatter like chaf in the wind?" :lol:
Well me harties,I'll try to keep the keel on an even beam,.....

II

[A Black Wind Blows

The year of the Dragon had birth in war and pestilence and unrest.The black plague stalked thought the streets of Belverus,striking down the serf in his kennel,the knight at his banquet board.


So we get that it is the year of the Dragon(Tarascus),in the waning year of the Lion(Conan,and as you know Amra),thought the market this is intented for,does not.
Howard,says -black- plague,anyone in the 1930's,who read history should know what know what this means,......again REH is using this to great effect,known events and history.
Then Mitra is invoked,but not like "Black Colossus."
We once talked about weather in a REH Conan tale,now we have weather,as I see it as Xaltotun's magic, the "hot wind from the south",after it has done its purpose,...

Out of the north rose a great wind that roared amoung the towers,and there was cataclysmic thunder,and blinding sheets of lightning,and driving rain.



Tu

Edited by Tu for Kull, 05 March 2008 - 04:52 AM.


#31 Kortoso

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 07:16 PM

Skipping ahead like a bad boy:


"I have come to guide you through the mountains to the first Poitanian stronghold."

"I don't need a guide," answered Conan. "I know these hills well. I thank you for the horses, but the countess and I will attract less attention alone than if we were accompanied by an acolyte of Asura."

Sounds like the old joke of "those aren't mountains where I come from!" ;)



#32 Guest_Tu for Kull_*

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Posted 07 March 2008 - 04:31 PM

Greetings!

Are we going to skip about?Just wondering,........ ;)
Shocking behavior for a moderator! :P
Is that it then?

Tu

#33 Kortoso

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Posted 07 March 2008 - 06:15 PM

Couldn't help myself. ;)

#34 Guest_Tu for Kull_*

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 02:35 AM

Greetings!

If there were cynical smiles in certain quarters,and whispers concerning the king's good friend Amalric,whose vast personal wealth seemed to be flowing into the rather depleated royal treasury,they were unheeded in the general wave of fevor and zeal of Tarascus's popularity.If any shrewed individuals suspected that Amalric was the real ruler of Nemedia,behind the scenes,they were careful not to voice such heresy.And the war went forward with enthusiasm.


To me this is a very political statement.There have also been men(and women) behind the scenes,pulling strings,saying this and meaning the whole opposite.Also the way REH,in his letters talked about 'the mob' and its mentality.This also connects Conan's individualism(and REH's) to the mob(see "Dying Embers")
Agree or disagree?


Tu, Linear within the story arc! :lol:

#35 Taranaich

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 07:55 PM

I agree, Tu for Kull. One of my (many) favourite things in HotD is the way Howard describes the Nemedian mobilization for war, in that's it's so disturbingly realistic, how Tarascus spins it into a "liberation" of Aquilonia from a brutal foreigner, whipping the people into a frenzy, as the more astute observers wryly comment on Amalric's place in all this:

Such a wave of enthusiasm and rejoicing as swept the land is frequently the signal for a war of conquest. So no one was surprized when it was announced that King Tarascus had declared the truce made by the late king with their western neighbors void, and was gathering his hosts to invade Aquilonia. His reason was candid; his motives, loudly proclaimed, gilded his actions with something of the glamour of a crusade. He espoused the cause of Valerius, "rightful heir to the throne"; he came, he proclaimed, not as an enemy of Aquilonia, but as a friend, to free the people from the tyranny of a usurper and a foreigner.


Indeed, I feel a short chapter could have been made of this, with two Nemedian nobles getting ready for the invasion talking about recent events: much like Howard's skirting of important events in Black Colossus and A Witch Shall be Born, this could have done with a little more expansion. I don't think it would've hurt the pace too badly, but ultimately even as plot exposition it works great.

Robert E. Howard, 1906 - 2006

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#36 Guest_Tu for Kull_*

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 10:14 PM

Greetings!
Hey Taranaich!First laddie to do that in a year,or two! :lol:

I agree, Tu for Kull. One of my (many) favourite things in HotD is the way Howard describes the Nemedian mobilization for war, in that's it's so disturbingly realistic, how Tarascus spins it into a "liberation" of Aquilonia from a brutal foreigner, whipping the people into a frenzy, as the more astute observers wryly comment on Amalric's place in all this:

Such a wave of enthusiasm and rejoicing as swept the land is frequently the signal for a war of conquest. So no one was surprized when it was announced that King Tarascus had declared the truce made by the late king with their western neighbors void, and was gathering his hosts to invade Aquilonia. His reason was candid; his motives, loudly proclaimed, gilded his actions with something of the glamour of a crusade. He espoused the cause of Valerius, "rightful heir to the throne"; he came, he proclaimed, not as an enemy of Aquilonia, but as a friend, to free the people from the tyranny of a usurper and a foreigner.


Indeed, I feel a short chapter could have been made of this, with two Nemedian nobles getting ready for the invasion talking about recent events: much like Howard's skirting of important events in Black Colossus and A Witch Shall be Born, this could have done with a little more expansion. I don't think it would've hurt the pace too badly, but ultimately even as plot exposition it works great.


I agree,it would not IMO,slow the flow of the story down.In my view,this is why in some people's eyes,they want more Conan,more Hyboria,because REH in his wisdom,gave them enough and let ones own imagination take them to wherever it will take you,...
Sorry,if a moderator can go off on a tangent,so can I! :P
The quote you gave above is very important,and revelant,even today.Hugo Chavez,anyone? :blink:
And to get more off-kilter,the chapter in 'A Witch Shall be Born' , "A Letter to Nemedia" which would make a fine -prologue- in any new Conan film(since that topic seems to be hot-to- trot). You change the names,people and you get the unwashed masses up to speed on Hyboria&Conan,...
Ok,in the tent,Conan,Pallantides,the fugtive step

Tu

Edited by Tu for Kull, 08 March 2008 - 10:17 PM.


#37 Guest_Tu for Kull_*

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Posted 09 March 2008 - 09:28 PM

Greetings!

"By Crom,muttered Conan.I awoke with a feeling that doom was creeping on me in the night."
He stared up at the great golden lamps which shed a soft glow over the velvet hangings and carpets of the great tent.They were alone;not even a slave or a page slept on the carpeted floor;but Conan's eyes blazed as they were wont to blaze in the teeth of peril,and the sword quivered in his hand.Pallantides watched him uneasily.Conan seemed to listening.


What I like this-prelude- in a slight way, is that we have Pallantides,commander,general,veteran of thousands of battles,uneasy,not on the dawn of battle but what Conan said,interesting,....

"Listen!" hissed the king."Did you hear it?A furtive step!"
"Seven knights guard your tent,Your Majesty,said Pallantides."None could approach it unchallenged."
"Not outside,"growled Conan."It seems to to sound insidethe tent."
Pallantides cast a swift,startled look around.The velvet hangings merged with shadows in the corners,but if there had been anyone in the pavilion besides themsleves,the general would have seen them.Again he shook his head.


Now we get the feeling/information,that a barbarian senses are more acutely attuned,not only to the 'wild' but to other unseen forces.

NEXT:The Road to Kingship,.....

Tu

#38 deuce

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Posted 11 March 2008 - 12:41 AM

The Hour of the Dragon from The Bloody Crown of Conan (Del Rey)

Chapter I: O Sleeper, Awake!

Xaltotun's sarcophagus: was "green" and "gleamed like carven jade." Across its surface, "cryptic heiroglyphics writhed". Later, the case is said to actually be jade. (p.83-84)

The Ritual: The four conspirators, Orastes, Tarascus, Valerius and Amalric, stood in a "circle" about the mummy-case. Each held a " curious black candle" set into a "black gold stick" which "burned with a weird greenish light." Orastes stood at the "foot" of the case, Tarascus to the "right", Valerius "on the left" and Amalric "stood at the head". Orastes, the actual worker of the ritual, first used his candle to draw a symbol in the air over the sarcophagus while mumbling "some formula". Then he drew forth the Heart of Ahriman. Orastes began passing the jewel over the case while muttering "an incantation that was old when Atlantis sank" (the incantations of Skelos?). The lid of the case burst outward and revealed the withered mummy of Xaltotun. Orastes laid the Heart upon the breast of the mummy and stood back. The conspirators could hear the heavy door of the chamber strain inward, as if something powerful sought entry. Meanwhile, an "awful transmutation" occurred. The withered corpse straightened and lengthened, the flesh regained the appearance of life. Xaltotun opened his eyes. The ritual was a success. (p.83-85)

Orastes: He was a "large man" with "large hands" and a "broad white forehead". He wore an "ermine-trimmed robe". Once a Nemedian priest of Mitra, he was cast forth from his order due to his delvings into "black magic". If not for the intercession of Amalric, he claimed that he "might have been burned as a magician." He then journeyed to Zamora, Vendhya, Stygia and "the haunted jungles of Khitai." He read "the iron-bound books of Skelos" and sought knowledge from unhallowed beings. He caught a glimpse of Xaltotun's sarcophagus where it lay in "the demon-haunted crypts below the black giant-walled temple of Set in the hinterlands of Stygia". Orastes also claimed that the Acheronian's remains were "in Set's subterranean temple". From "moldering manuscripts" Orastes learned of the Heart of Ahriman and then spent a year locating its hiding-place. After that, he arranged for the theft of the sarcophagus and the Heart. (p.84-87)
Orastes claimed that he might've been burned as a magician. I'm sure that some will point to this as an example of the Mitran priesthood's "oppressiveness" or "degeneracy". The thing is, in a milieu where "black magic" is an actual reality, this is a very sensible attitude. Would Conan disapprove of a "black magician" being burned? I seriously doubt it. While they persecute the Asurans, on the whole, the Mitran priests seem fairly tolerant. There appears to be no hint of persecution towards the "Ibis cult".
We also learn from the career of Orastes that there are "books" of Skelos. Other yarns indicate only a single "Book". The evidence indicating a pre-Hyborian origin for Skelos conflicts with the account given in "TDiI" that it contains early Hyborian lore (AND that Conan had read it himself). A solution of this conundrum might be that "The Book(s) of Skelos" were actually a compilation. Robert M. Price wrote an essay positing a similar history for The Necronomicon.
WHERE is this "giant-walled temple of Set"? In Chapter XVI, there is also a mention of a "holy city" in the hinterlands. Orastes also speaks of a "subterranean temple".
Apparently, lore concerning the Heart isn't contained in the books of Skelos. Orastes had to find his information elsewhere.

Xaltotun: Once given the semblance of life, the Acheronian appeared as "a tall, lusty man, naked, white of skin, and dark of hair and beard." According to Valerius, he "was not a Stygian." He was in his "house in Khemi" when he was poisoned by "the jealous priests of Stygia". He was mummified by them with all of his "organs intact." "Zamorian thieves" stole the Acheronian's mummy-case, "and by camel-caravan and galley and ox-wagon it came" to Belverus. Xaltotun had "black wavy locks that fell to his shoulders","dark eyes" and a "lion-like head". He was "high priest of Set in Python, which was in Acheron." Xaltotun spoke Nemedian "with a curious, archaic accent." He claimed his "necromantic knowledge (was) greater than the sum of all the knowledge of other men". REH also called him a "Pythonian". (p.84-88)

Amalric: A "dark, powerful man", he was "baron of Tor, in Nemedia" and an old benefactor of Orastes. (p.84, 86)
Tarascus: was a "small dark man", the "younger brother of the king of Nemedia." (p.84, 86) While most of the Nemedian royal family seem to have names derived from "Nemed" (the name of the leader of the Irish "Nemedians"), Tarascus is a little different. Perhaps REH was being a bit clever here. Considering the pervasive "dragon" imagery in this yarn (especially in regards to Nemedia), it's interesting that "Tarascus" is (probably) ultimately derived from the name of a French dragon, the Tarasque. Here's a link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarasque
The original "Beauty and the Beast" story.
Valerius: He was described as a "tall, yellow-haired man". Valerius was claimed to be, by Orastes, "the rightful heir of the throne of Aquilonia". He had been driven into exile by his royal kinsman, Namedides. He had been absent from Aquilonia "for years", but he was "of the blood of the old dynasty". (p.82, 86, 88)
I always thought that Karl Edward Wagner could've written some good tales concerning Valerius.

The Heart of Ahriman: It is described as "a ball of living fire." Xaltotun claimed that the "barbarians stole it from me!" The Pythonian said he did not know "the full power of the jewel." He "did not invoke it in the old days", he guarded it, lest it be used against him. According to Xaltotun, "The red heart of the night it is, strong to save or damn. It came from afar, and from long ago. When I held it, none could stand before me." "At last it was stolen, and in the hands of a feathered shaman of the barbarians", it defeated all of Xaltotun's mightiest sorcery. The Heart had been hidden, "in a cavern below the temple of Mitra, in Tarantia." (p.84-87)
This "red heart of the night" doesn't sound like any sort of "Grail". It also doesn't sound like it was forged by "Monster-kings".
Zamorian thieves: "are the most faithful men in their trust." (p.88)
The Hyborian calendar: Xaltotun was resurrected in "the waning of the Year of the Lion, three thousand years after the fall of Acheron." (p.88) Xaltotun asks no particulars about the calendar (just as he already understands "archaic Nemedian"). He seems to already understand the calendar. Long ago, Kane speculated that the Hyborian calendar was descended from that of Acheron (whose people were also Hyborians). I think that speculation definitely has merit.
Mitra: Xaltotun asks Orastes, "How is it that a priest of Mitra knows of the Heart of Ahriman and the incantations of Skelos?" (p.87) The Pythonian seems to know that knowledge of the Heart and Skelos would be off-limits to an acolyte of Mitra.

Acheron: "Where the empire had stretched now rose realms called Aquilonia, and Nemedia, and Argos, from the tribes that founded them. The older kingsoms of Corinthia, Ophir and western Koth, which had been subject to the kings of Acheron, regained their independence with the fall of the empire." According to Orastes, "In the hills small groups of folk still boast descent from Acheron." As Xaltotun recalls: "Many a barbarian, both man and woman, died screaming on the altar under this hand. I have seen their heads piled to make a pyramid in the great square of Python when the kings returned from the west with their spoils and naked captives." According to Orastes: "And when the day of reckoning came, the sword was not spared. So Acheron ceased to be, and purple-towered Python became a memory of forgotten days. But the younger kingdoms rose on the imperial ruins and waxed great." Orastes shows Xaltotun a vellum map (another "medieval" indicator). Xaltotun says, "The very outlines of the land are changed." (p.88)

Here we see the concept of "Elder" Corinthia, Ophir and Koth. They existed 3000+yrs ago as well. The idea, held by some, that Hyborians were ALL skin-clad, tawny-haired barbarians at the time of the fall of Acheron appears to be wrong. Also, REH is strongly intimating that Aquilonian/Nemedian/Argossean culture rose on the "ruins" of Acheron. Thus, the persistent "dragon" imagery seen in both Aquilonia and Nemedia.
Xaltotun's comments concerning Orastes' map are intriguing.

Aquilonians: The kingdom is "a formidable foe. Its people are a hardy, war-like race, toughened by continual wars with the Picts, Zingarans and Cimmerians. For five hundred years Aquilonia and Nemedia have intermittently waged war, and the ultimate advantage has always lain with the Aquilonians." (p.89) They don't sound very decadent to me.

Conan: According to Orastes: "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." Many of the barons "would secretly hail the overthrow of Conan, who is a nobody without royal or even noble blood. But the common people are loyal to him, and the nobility of the outlying provinces." "He is not part of a dynasty, but only a lone adventurer." As seen in Orastes' mirror, Conan was " a tall man, mightily shouldered and deep of chest, with a massive corded neck and heavily muscled limbs. He was clad in silk and velvet, with the royal lions of Aquilonia worked in gold on his rich jupon". "His brow was low and broad, his eyes a volcanic blue that smoldered as if with some inner fire. His dark, scarred, almost sinister face was that of a fighting-man". Orastes says of Conan, "He is a true son of that savage race, and has proved himself, thus far, unconquerable." (p.89-90) Conan's "almost sinister face" keeps reminding me of descriptions of Sir Richard Burton. I'm sure that REH read a few of them, too. As for "velvet" and "jupons" (also mentioned in The Scarlet Citadel), they're both products of the 14th century AD. Nothing "Greco-Roman" (or "ancient") about 'em. Here's some links:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velvet
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Jupon
LSdC missed the boat, as usual. If he was goin' to rename "THotD", he should've called it Conan the Unconquerable.
Cimmerians: Xaltotun says, "I fought his ancestors of old. Not even the kings of Acheron could conquer them." (p.90)

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#39 Taranaich

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Posted 11 March 2008 - 06:43 PM

Ahoy, deuce! Another fine post.



The Ritual: The four conspirators, Orastes, Tarascus, Valerius and Amalric, stood in a "circle" about the mummy-case. Each held a " curious black candle" set into a "black gold stick" which "burned with a weird greenish light."


It just occurred to me reading there: a black gold stick? While there are numerous methods to create black gold, most of these are very high tech: electroplating, patination or laser pulsing being most notable. I doubt Howard meant the sticks were made of coal, of which "black gold" is an infrequent synonym: Howard must have meant exactly what he said. Much like his examples of gigantic pieces of ivory, this is one of those times Howard indicates something that initially seems a mistake, but in the context of sorcery, very intriguing.

Orastes began passing the jewel over the case while muttering "an incantation that was old when Atlantis sank" (the incantations of Skelos?).


Gotta love Howard's mysterious figures that exist only as names, yet seem to indicate phenomenal power.

Tarascus: was a "small dark man", the "younger brother of the king of Nemedia." (p.84, 86) While most of the Nemedian royal family seem to have names derived from "Nemed" (the name of the leader of the Irish "Nemedians"), Tarascus is a little different. Perhaps REH was being a bit clever here. Considering the pervasive "dragon" imagery in this yarn (especially in regards to Nemedia), it's interesting that "Tarascus" is (probably) ultimately derived from the name of a French dragon, the Tarasque. Here's a link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarasque
The original "Beauty and the Beast" story.


One of the things that intrigues me about HotD is Tarascus. Although Xaltotun is the big monster that has to be beaten, far more text is spent on Tarascus: given the added dragon symbolism with Nemedia, he always seemed like the "true" villain of the story. In addition, he's the one Conan faces at the end and defeats, not Xaltotun.

Zamorian thieves: "are the most faithful men in their trust." (p.88)


Good to hear something nice about the Zamorians for a change. :P

Another thing about the dragon symbolism: one of Gary Gianni's illustrations in Bloody Crown was of a lion standing triumphant over a dragon, beautifully symbolic of the lion (Conan) over the dragon (Tarascus/Xaltotun). The dragon was the royal symbol of Aquilonia in Phoenix, as well as that of the old royal house. The dragon immediately evokes ancient and primeval: a lion is a newer breed of predator relative to the reptiles. Perhaps this was also symbolic of the new and vibrant over the old and decadent?

Yeah, renaming Hour of the Dragon was just ridiculous given the multitude of draconian imagery.

Robert E. Howard, 1906 - 2006

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#40 Guest_Tu for Kull_*

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 01:43 AM

Greetings!
Should we mash-out the first two chapters?
Oh,yes,the re-naming,......by someone-not-to-be-named(sorry!)

Patrice Louinet;

Whoever had the idea of retitling Howard's novel Conan he Conqueror had evidently not understood its theme:Conan is anything but a conqueror by nature.If Conan's kingship has to be envisioned as a conclusion of sorts to his life,then the lesson is one entirely different from what has been suggested for years:Conan the King has much less freedom and power(to act as he wants) that Conan the Cimmerian




Tu (book-in-hand) ;)

Edited by Tu for Kull, 15 March 2008 - 01:53 AM.