Conan The Rebel by Poul Anderson
Posted 15 February 2012 - 05:34 AM
I about to finish Poul Anderson's Conan The Rebel, and I'm really digging it. Though, it's rough stuff. Gritty.
It's a tale of Conan and Belit. The she-pirate tells Conan of her path to being the Queen of the Black Coast.
Though originally from Shem, Belit lived with her father and mother, brother, and husband among the Suba in the Black Kingdoms. Stygian slavers appeared one day. An arrow took her father. Her brother was captured for slave merchandise. Belit, with her husband, mother, and 3 month old son, ran for the forest, but they didn't make it. Her mother was too old to run fast enough to get away. She took her own life in the reeds before reaching the forest.
Belit and her husband ran. But, this did them no good. Four slavers chased them, and a sling bullet blew out the back of Belit's husband's head.
This is when Belit stopped. She took her newborn child and fed him from her breast. Then, as the slavers approached, she stuck a spear through her son's small body, granting him freedom. The four slavers overtook her, then, and they raped her in the reeds next to the dead bodies of her son and husband.
More than gritty. That's just damn harsh!
But, it's a good read. Belit is really an interesting, complicated character, and I love how Poul has fleshed out some of her character. This is a mother who killed her own young child so that the slavers would not get him. Damn.
A few things I like about the book....
1. It's one of the few looks into Stygia, and I think Poul Anderson did a great job of making that peek fit perfectly with what has already been established with the Hyborian Age. Stygia feels like it should.
2. I also like how Anderson reveals Stygia to be a living, breathing place, rather than just the static home of the badguys. Stygia has it's own internal troubles, such as the Taian Rebellion. Conan explores both Khemi and Luxor, and both cities feel different. Khemi, for instance, doesn't allow foreigners to move about the city freely at night. Even during the day, it's best to go straight to a destination or stay on your merchant vessel. I think the developers of the Age of Conan MMO got the look of the place spot-on. That's exactly what I saw in my head when reading the pages (except for the foreigners, all the snakes, and the mages displaying magic all over the place--that's more MMO than what I read in the book).
Stygia doesn't have a strong navy--probably relies overmuch on the power of the kingdom's mages. And, sorcerery has a range not extending that far off the coast.
The dynamic between the kingdom's ruler and the mages of the Black Circle is interesting as well.
3. The priestesshood of Derketa. Man, this religion really caught my interest. I remember reading in Frank Herbert's Dune series about the Honored Matres and how their troops were bound to their leaders because the individual troops were in deep love with their female leaders. Have you ever been so in love with someone that it hurts? That you'd do anything for them. It's a strange state that we sometimes get into. Just ask that astronaut woman who drove from Houston to Floriday a few years ago wearing diapers so that she would have to stop less often in order to intimidate and warn off her romantic rival. It's a crazy kind of love that we sometimes fall into. My friends and I have a name for it. We call it "The Horror" (which is a sort of take off from Apocolypse Now).
Well, Anderson gives a similar power to the Derketan priestesses. They're able to make a man fall in extreme, crazy love with them to the point which the victim will do anything for the object of his desire.
I've thought the notion was amazing since I read it in the Dune books. To see it here, in a swords & sorcerery setting, is a treat.
4. I'm not finished with the book yet, but the climax is visually amazing. I can picture it on the big screen. Conan leads a hundred warriors to Pteion, a city that, ages agon, has been abandoned by the living. It is a city of the dead.
A huge sand storm hits just as Conan and his troops reach the city. It's so bad that the sun is blocked out. And...there are....creatures....movements...shadows....in the sand. The dead walk from the cover of the storm to engage Conan and his men. Two giant armies battle, in this thick sand storm. One alive. One dead.
33 more pages, and I'm done. I can't wait to see how it ends.
Posted 15 February 2012 - 12:50 PM
Wow! No thread for this one yet?
Money and muscle, that's what I want; to be able to do any damned thing I want and get away with it. Money won't do that altogether, because if a man is a weakling, all the money in the world won't enable him to soak an enemy himself; on the other hand, unless he has money he may not be able to get away with it.
--Robert E. Howard to Harold Preece, ca. June 1928--
Posted 16 February 2012 - 10:54 AM
Wow! No thread for this one yet?
Hmm...I did a search for Conan Rebel. Nothing came up. Strange.
Hey Boot! Don't put "Conan" in the search engine. Period. Waste of time.
Anyway, go up to the "Search" box in the upper right hand corner. To the RIGHT of that is a sprocket/gear symbol. THAT leads you to the "Advanced Search" screen. Only put the most UNIQUE term(s) applicable in the search box (in this case, "rebel"). Then, click "Titles Only". You can select a board/sub-forum if you want, but if the term is unique enough, it's not necessary. Finding "Conan the Rebel" took me about 10 seconds last try.
Hope that helps.
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Posted 17 February 2012 - 01:14 AM
Posted 17 February 2012 - 07:46 AM
Armies clash. Rebels fight for freedom in a dark land of slavery, dust, and snakes. And, there is a prophecy, that a man would come and lead them to victory!
There are lots of elements in the book that would easily lend themselves to depiction on the big screen. Pteion, the City of the Dead. A winged ship, not unlike the winged camel that appears in Black Colossus. A great Ax, created in antiquity, that can only be wielded by Mitra's hero.
Another thing that was neat: This book explains how Conan came to be called "Amra."
And, if you've played the Age of Conan MMO, then you might be pleased to hear that the character Sakumbe makes an appearance (Captain Sakumbe, the slaver, in the MMO).
It's good stuff.
Posted 18 February 2012 - 08:16 PM
Posted 19 February 2012 - 04:59 AM
I definitely would like to have seen Anderson write another Conan novel or two.
The way the book ends, it feels as if Anderson meant to, and something got in the way. It's as if Anderson would return and write an adventure with Conan and Belit together.