Jump to content


Photo

Conan The Valorous by John Maddox Roberts


  • Please log in to reply
39 replies to this topic

#21 Lotus Eater

Lotus Eater

    Spear Carrier

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 8 posts

Posted 11 August 2005 - 11:38 AM

The Valorous was the first John Maddox Roberts Conan that I read, and I found it to be surprisingly up to par with Robert Jordan. The Valorous and the Marauder are his two best, but I was slightly less pleased about the Champion and the Bold. I like that Roberts dares to tread new paths with Conan. The fact that he is able to take Conan back to his native Cimmeria is impressive.
Valorous might not be the best word to describe Conan, but what other descriptor hasn't been used already? How about "Conan the Pragmatist": It might be a little more fitting for a barbarian of Conan's mettle. Conan the... ?

#22 Ironhand

Ironhand

    The Mad Playwright

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,017 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Saint Louis, MO, USA

Posted 11 August 2005 - 07:20 PM

Conan the Fool Killer.

Has anyone ever come across legends of the Fool Killer? If so, you will understand the reference.

Edited by Ironhand, 11 August 2005 - 07:22 PM.

"Did you deem yourself strong, because you were able to twist the heads off civilized folk, poor weaklings with muscles like rotten string? Hell! Break the neck of a wild Cimmerian bull before you call yourself strong. I did that, before I was a full-grown man...!" - Conan, in "Shadows in Zamboula", by Robert E. Howard
"... you speak of Venarium familiarly. Perhaps you were there?"
"I was," grunted [Conan]. "I was one of the horde that swarmed over the hills. I hadn't yet seen fifteen snows, but already my name was repeated about the council fires." - "Beyond the Black River", by Robert E. Howard

Read my Conan screenplays at The Scrolls of Ironhand (in particular my transcription of THE FROST GIANT'S DAUGHTER in Act II of "The Snow Devil") at
http://www.scrollsof...d.us/index.html or at
http://www.delicious...ic=ConanProject

#23 grim cimmerian

grim cimmerian

    Saturnine Slayer, Crag Climber, Marauder of the Mountains

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 743 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:United States of America

Posted 30 August 2005 - 03:14 AM

If its any defence to the description of Cimmeria remeber trees will only grow to a certail altitude.. after that you look at a more barren land with only low ground cover and possible rocky outcrops.. maybe this is the part of Cimmeria that JMR was describing..
Budgie

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Thanks Budgie I was going to bring up that very point. I live in the Rocky Mountains of the Western United States (Utah) and make several camping, hunting, and backpacking trips every year in the mountains. The Uinta mountains for example start out as pinion/juniper high desert and transition gradually to aspen and conifer (pines and firs.) Just the kind of dark forest that REH envisioned in his own native Texas (my state and his are similar in flora and fauna.) But eventually the trees begin to thin out as you approach the timberline (a place where trees have difficultly growing past in elevation) due to excessive snows weighting them down, temperatures, more rocky soil with less nutrients etc. soon the only trees are stunted, flattened "Krummoltz" pines that are ravaged by wind and snow. Above the tree line are huge meadows and boulder fields that lead up to the cliffs and crags of the ridge and peaks. Goats are mentioned in Conan stories and goats and sheep in general like to stay well above the tree line to make use of their good eyesight to avoid predators. You can be sure that with neighbors like the picts Cimmerians would be wary of settling too close to the trees at least in the northwestern part where conan lived. Cliffs and crags tend to be exposed at or near the ridge line above the timber as well any climbing Cimmerian can tell you that. Mists and fogs are common in the bare high ground but tend to break up as they penetrate the forest. In sum I think that both REH's Cimmeria and Roberts work well TOGETHER.
"WOE UNTO MY FOEMEN, PITY THEIR WIDOWS AND KIN."
All flatlanders are soft and frail, I enjoy those qualities in their women.
"By CROM if you so much as touch your hilt I'll split you from crown to crotch and see if your guts are as yellow as I think they are!"

#24 grim cimmerian

grim cimmerian

    Saturnine Slayer, Crag Climber, Marauder of the Mountains

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 743 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:United States of America

Posted 30 August 2005 - 03:21 AM

Now on to the review. I agree it is well written and the bull/damsel sequence seems alittle off story and could stand on its own but I liked it too.I think this book is my favorite pastiche thus far. I loved it from start to finish and am pleased to give it my 10/10. So far I have read many pastiches and Robert Jordan and John Maddox Roberts are the best at it and Harry Turtledove and Steve Perry the worst.
The imagery where Conan and Chulainn Hack there way through 100 vanir is pure Conan! "That must be some great champion of theirs" (or something to that effect) is uttered by the vanir chieftain as he surveys the carnage. Damn Right!

Edited by grim cimmerian, 07 August 2006 - 08:48 PM.

"WOE UNTO MY FOEMEN, PITY THEIR WIDOWS AND KIN."
All flatlanders are soft and frail, I enjoy those qualities in their women.
"By CROM if you so much as touch your hilt I'll split you from crown to crotch and see if your guts are as yellow as I think they are!"

#25 Hans

Hans

    Adventurer

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 409 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 12 July 2006 - 11:32 PM

While the Aelfrith/Atzel/bull subplot may actually be totally extraneous to the majot story,nonetheless,i found it enjoyable and helpful.I was in a lonely point in my life(early 1986),had accomplished a number of goals professionally in the previous 1 and 1/2 years,had gotten myself into good physical condition,and was finding myself being the focus of attention by a number of women.So,seeing Conan as the champion for a beautiful and valiant warrior queen who WAS indeed being presecuted by a paranoid villain,I managed to develop a sortof identification with him.This helped me really get in touch with a manly,virile,romantic part of myself,and enabled me to estalish a warm,ejoyalbe relationship with a lady that last for about 6 months.And,we're still friends.So,for me,the entire novel,and all of it's subplots,contain a number of fond memories.

#26 grim cimmerian

grim cimmerian

    Saturnine Slayer, Crag Climber, Marauder of the Mountains

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 743 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:United States of America

Posted 07 August 2006 - 08:52 PM

I do that with songs (associate a memory, who doesn't have songs that remind them of something) but that is the first I have heard of someone associating a memory with a novel because it was read during a memorable timeframe.
interesting...
"WOE UNTO MY FOEMEN, PITY THEIR WIDOWS AND KIN."
All flatlanders are soft and frail, I enjoy those qualities in their women.
"By CROM if you so much as touch your hilt I'll split you from crown to crotch and see if your guts are as yellow as I think they are!"

#27 Darkstorm Dale

Darkstorm Dale

    HYBORIAN HERETIC

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 166 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Fort Dodge, Iowa, USA

Posted 08 August 2006 - 06:29 PM

As much as I dislike pastiche Conan (and lord knows I've read them all), I really rather enjoyed Conan the Valorous.

It's got a lovely little scene in it where Conan falls in with an old Cimmerian acquaintance and his son high up in the mountains of Cimmeria. Night has fallen and Conan decides to turn in for the night. He packs a bunch of snow together into a ball so that he can use it to rest his head upon while he sleeps. Watching Conan prepare for bed, the old Cimmerian looks at his son and snarks that sojurning in the southlands must make a man soft, since Conan needs a pillow in order to sleep.

It's probably been ten years since I've read the book, but I still remember that bit. Still cracks me up...
"Details are all that matters; God dwells there, and you never get to see Him if you don't struggle to get them right." - Stephen Jay Gould

"A man receives only what he is ready to receive. . . .
The phenomenon or fact that cannot in any wise be linked with the rest of what he has observed, he does not observe.
" - Henry D. Thoreau


"There never was an explanation which didn't itself need to be explained" - Charles Fort

"If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you." - Oscar Wilde

#28 grim cimmerian

grim cimmerian

    Saturnine Slayer, Crag Climber, Marauder of the Mountains

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 743 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:United States of America

Posted 08 August 2006 - 10:37 PM

It is my favorite of the pastiches too. I really liked everything about it. I think his portral of Cimmerians is just how I would have imagined them. I think the young man who left in the early morning to climb up the standing stone to see all of the Cimmerian clans gather was an awesome description that I could easily invisage.
"WOE UNTO MY FOEMEN, PITY THEIR WIDOWS AND KIN."
All flatlanders are soft and frail, I enjoy those qualities in their women.
"By CROM if you so much as touch your hilt I'll split you from crown to crotch and see if your guts are as yellow as I think they are!"

#29 Kev

Kev

    Warrior

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 115 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Fair Oaks CA aka Rivendell

Posted 07 March 2009 - 07:55 PM

As much as I dislike pastiche Conan (and lord knows I've read them all), I really rather enjoyed Conan the Valorous.

It's got a lovely little scene in it where Conan falls in with an old Cimmerian acquaintance and his son high up in the mountains of Cimmeria. Night has fallen and Conan decides to turn in for the night. He packs a bunch of snow together into a ball so that he can use it to rest his head upon while he sleeps. Watching Conan prepare for bed, the old Cimmerian looks at his son and snarks that sojurning in the southlands must make a man soft, since Conan needs a pillow in order to sleep.

It's probably been ten years since I've read the book, but I still remember that bit. Still cracks me up...


Darkstorm stole my thunder. That is THE passage of the book. There was another line in which JMR tapped into the pure essence of Hyboria. When the battle between the Cimmerians and the Vanir was wrapping up we get this little gem, "There was no thought in any mind of sparring the Vanir. Centuries of hate and vengeance forbade it, and the Vanir would have considered the offer an insult in any case." That's Hyborian Poetry right there baby.

I didn't mind the interlude with Aelfrith in the Border Kingdom; Conan's Battle with the King Bull was so wonderfully told that it's worthy of joining canon.

I give the book 4 of 5 stars, losing one star for the rather abrupt conclusion and wrap up of the book. This book has spurred me to track down and buy another of JMR's Conan stories - Conan the Bold. Higher praise for pastiche writer cannot be given.

Kev
"Poets always hate those in power. To them perfection is always just behind the last corner, or beyond the next."
The Phoenix on the Sword

#30 sherlock

sherlock

    Spear Carrier

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 42 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Ohio

Posted 06 April 2012 - 05:47 PM

Additional Conan reviews (with artwork) can be found on my blog http://woodson26.blogspot.com/ Just search 'Conan'

This is the first of the eight novels that John Maddox Roberts wrote in the fifty-book Tor Series, and the first not penned by Robert Jordan (later of The Wheel of Time fame). In William Galen Gray’s chronology it is the thirtieth Conan tale, following Howard’s The Bloodstained God and taking place before Howard’s The Frost Giant’s Daughter.

I commend Roberts for providing an excellent look at life in Cimmeria. I contrast this with the disappointing approach that Harry Turtledove used in Conan of Venarium. The barbarians live in stone huts and put up hide tents; they don’t occupy what is basically a medieval village. The people are nomads and fierce warriors. They fight each other, only coming together when driven by exceptional circumstances. Maddox Roberts also depicts the enmity between the Cimmerians and the Vanheim, which is an important characteristic of life in the north.

The tale begins with Conan hastily swearing to perform an errand for Hathor Ka, a Stygian sorceress. Conan blindly agrees to the task without getting the details first. Really, it’s hard to buy that he was so hard up for money that he just jumped into this deal. Apparently Maddox Roberts wanted to get the story moving so he skimped a bit on the Call to Adventure. Regardless, once he agrees, Conan is committed to visiting a sacred cave in his homeland and things get going.

As Joseph Campbell wrote in The Hero With a Thousand Faces (a must read for any fantasy fan), “The first encounter of the hero journey is with a protective figure (often a little old crone or old man) who provides the adventurer with amulets against the dragon forces he is about to pass. What such a figure represents is the benign, protecting power of destiny.”

A wizened old man reads Conan’s future in the very first chapter. He then sells Conan a protective amulet in chapter two. Drawing on Campbell’s Monomyth, strengthens sword and sorcery tales and Maddox Roberts is clearly familiar with Campbell’s work and works elements of the Hero’s Journey into the story.

Maddox Roberts weaves together Conan’s journey, the Cimmerians’ trouble with demon raids, a Vanheim invasion into Cimmeria and a complex plot involving three competing sorcerers on a quest for god-like power. This story has a lot going on and it’s all deftly handled.

The book is low on the sex scale, with Conan bedding a rescued chieftaness in the Border Kingdoms. This happens almost halfway through the book and he doesn’t sleep with any other females in this tale. Maddox
Roberts gives us one of the most believable amorous conquests in the entire Conan saga. It doesn’t follow the usual “My, what huge muscles you have, take me, you savage!”

I very much enjoyed Conan the Valorous. Despite the flawed opening, it’s one of the better pastiches and its look at life in Cimmeria is very well done. The complex plot is more than weighty enough to carry the story forward to the very end.
Joshua 24:15 - As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord

#31 THE KID

THE KID

    Rustlin, horse stealin, bootleggin whiskey, and sharp shootin

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,094 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Cimmeria

Posted 07 April 2012 - 10:14 PM

Hey Sherlock :rolleyes: Wecome to the forum! I checked out the link and liked it a lot - everything on the link I liked and agreed with. So glad you're here and I like your Avatar, too. John Maddox Roberts is on this forum a lot. You can talk to him on the forum and even email him and use instant messenger here. I like his writing, too.

Edited by Richard, 07 April 2012 - 10:14 PM.

The New Sheriff In Town - The Vultures of Whapeton & Boot Hill Payoff (The Western Stories)

#32 amster

amster

    Maladjusted to the point of pychosis

  • Banned
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 6,219 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Outside the ordered universe, where the boundless daemon sultan Azathoth, whose name no lips dare speak aloud, blasphemes and bubbles at the center of all infinity.

Posted 07 April 2012 - 10:57 PM

I've never read any of JMR's pastiches (sorry JMR, I was just sort of burned out on the Tor pastiches by the time yours started hitting the shelves, and I've just never gotten around to it), so I obviously haven't read the book in question, but I have to say that's an excellent review.
Posted Image
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--

#33 Lunatic

Lunatic

    Mauler of Shadizar

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 870 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:unknown..so unknown

Posted 08 April 2012 - 05:10 PM

Are Maddoxes´Conan novels independent stories?

I like to think of barbarians as fierce nomad clans, I thinks I will pick up this Conan the Valuorous when I find it...

But still wouldn´t nomads/highlanders/hillmen have like a wintercamp? Which could be more "town"like.

#34 Boot

Boot

    Mauler of Shadizar

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 966 posts

Posted 08 April 2012 - 09:15 PM

Let me start off by saying that JMR is one of my favorite Conan pastiche authors. If I saw a new Conan tale by him on the shelves today, I'd snap it faster than you can say Crom!

I did very much like Valorous, but i have two quibbles. Although I liked the added Bull story in the middle of the tale, it does feel like added fluff just to make the story longer (which, I know, it was!). Second, although I dug the Fields of the Dead scenes (pun intended!) at the end of the book, I've got mixed feelings about how the inside of Crom's mountain was portrayed. That part almost feels a little too "normal-fantasy" to me. I think JMR could have done better, but still, I think the book is solid work.

And, I liked so many things about it.

I like the "God's pawn" and DESTINY themes expressed in the work.

I like, when the sorcerer and his apprentice are on the ship, and the Old One appears, how Lovecraftian that felt. It wasn't a long scene, but I really felt it.

I love the opening where Conan goes through the motions of finding a new sword. JMR took something as mundane as that and made it such an interesting read.

And, I very much liked the closer look at the Cimmerians--a subject too often ignored.

I wouldn't give the book my highest rating, but I'd definitely recommend it. It's good "Conan stuff".





EDIT: I may be one of the few, but I really liked Turtledove's Venarium, too. Yes, I realize he broke canon with locations and such, but I don't care about that as much. I think it was a damn good read.

Edited by Boot, 08 April 2012 - 09:17 PM.


#35 sherlock

sherlock

    Spear Carrier

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 42 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Ohio

Posted 10 April 2012 - 01:16 PM

Hey Sherlock :rolleyes: Wecome to the forum! I checked out the link and liked it a lot - everything on the link I liked and agreed with. So glad you're here and I like your Avatar, too. John Maddox Roberts is on this forum a lot. You can talk to him on the forum and even email him and use instant messenger here. I like his writing, too.


Thanks. Glad you liked the stuff on my blog.

I finished Conan the Rogue over the weekend and as a Dashiell Hammet fan, that is easily my favorite Conan pastiche so far. A ton of fun. So, JMR is 2 for 2 for me.



As for my icon, my son has grown bored with Veggie Tales, but I still like them...
Joshua 24:15 - As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord

#36 sherlock

sherlock

    Spear Carrier

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 42 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Ohio

Posted 10 April 2012 - 01:28 PM

EDIT: I may be one of the few, but I really liked Turtledove's Venarium, too. Yes, I realize he broke canon with locations and such, but I don't care about that as much. I think it was a damn good read.


I found the opening battle against the Aquilonians hard to believe. Combined with the 'medieval village' feel of Conan's village, the book was working uphill against the start.

Also, non-Canonically (meaning, my perception, which is no more valid than anyone else's; maybe less so), I always pictured Venarium as an outpost barely hanging on in hostile territory ( ala Howard's Beyond the Black River). Turtledove has them in complete control of the area, with the Cimmerian's cowed. So, my preconception differed from Turtledove's.
Joshua 24:15 - As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord

#37 Boot

Boot

    Mauler of Shadizar

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 966 posts

Posted 11 April 2012 - 03:49 AM

I always pictured Venarium as an outpost barely hanging on in hostile territory ( ala Howard's Beyond the Black River). Turtledove has them in complete control of the area, with the Cimmerian's cowed. So, my preconception differed from Turtledove's.


I had a similar perception when starting the book, but I enjoyed the different outlook and feel. I especially liked the way Turtledove told the story from both sides. This could have easily been a tale about life on the frontier from the Aquilonian perspective, with the Aquilonian as the heroes of the tale! I had never thought about that when thinking of Venarium before, and I think that "grey" outlook fits well in Howard's Hyborian Age. There is no right or wrong. It just is the way it is.

I also loved that scene with the Atlantian temple that was..or maybe was not...reminiscent of The Frost Giant's Daughter.

As for the canon breaking, talk to a Howard purist, and you'll hear about tons. The biggest example is that Conan's village is supposed to be in the northwest of Cimmeria. Venarium is somewhere just over the border from Aquilonia. Yet, in Turtledove's book, they're both within a day's ride from each other (more like 4-5 hours). Many balk at Conan's use of the bow at a young age, too. There's tons of other stuff. It's as if Turtledove read zero other Conan works before he started on his tale.

But, I enjoyed it, nevertheless. I thought it was well written--not the best, but a good Conan tale.

I never lost interest in it.

#38 RJMooreII

RJMooreII

    Der Einzige

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 327 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Mindless Void

Posted 15 April 2012 - 11:55 PM

As much as I dislike pastiche Conan (and lord knows I've read them all), I really rather enjoyed Conan the Valorous.

It's got a lovely little scene in it where Conan falls in with an old Cimmerian acquaintance and his son high up in the mountains of Cimmeria. Night has fallen and Conan decides to turn in for the night. He packs a bunch of snow together into a ball so that he can use it to rest his head upon while he sleeps. Watching Conan prepare for bed, the old Cimmerian looks at his son and snarks that sojurning in the southlands must make a man soft, since Conan needs a pillow in order to sleep.

It's probably been ten years since I've read the book, but I still remember that bit. Still cracks me up...

It really stresses the primeaevil nature of the Cimmerians, how close to animals they are that they would even take note of that.

The more I read Conan the more he strikes me as basically a very intelligent pre-Chalcolithic wandererer, it is just such neat imaginary anthropology it's hard to really grasp just how *different* the world once was, and maybe still is in a few regions of the Earth.

Edited by RJMooreII, 15 April 2012 - 11:57 PM.

"Never trust a wizard - even in death." - Grognak the Barbarian

#39 cromsblood

cromsblood

    Blood of Crom

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 650 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Canada

Posted 03 June 2013 - 05:13 AM

I just finished reading it earlier today and enjoyed it immensely.  It certainly doesn't read like anything Howard (as one might expect), but JMR clearly has a thorough understanding of the source material and is an excellent scribe.  I love the way he fleshes out Cimmeria and to a lesser degree Stygia.  I can appreciate what people are saying above about Cimmeria lacking forest, but my general impression was (as indicated in previous posts) that most of the story pertaining to Cimmeria did indeed take place above the tree line.  At one point I'm quite sure that JMR made reference to the vast number of trees in Cimmeria.

 

Like others I was a little disappointed with the abruptness of the ending, especially the circumstances surrounding Hathor-Ka.  As much as I enjoyed the part with the bull,  I would have preferred that it be dropped from the story and the ending expanded upon to make up the difference.

 

I'm giving it 3.5 dismembered Vanir limbs out of 5.  Thanks John! 



#40 THE KID

THE KID

    Rustlin, horse stealin, bootleggin whiskey, and sharp shootin

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,094 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Cimmeria

Posted 30 November 2013 - 01:01 AM

I like it! I am getting more of John's Conan books.


The New Sheriff In Town - The Vultures of Whapeton & Boot Hill Payoff (The Western Stories)