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Conan The Valorous by John Maddox Roberts


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#1 Primeval

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Posted 30 March 2004 - 07:44 PM

CONAN THE VALOROUS BY JOHN MADDOX ROBERTS (1985)


I am not someone with the literary background of our esteemed Mr. harvey, but hopefully my thoughts on this book may be interesting or help someone decide if this pastiche is worth reading.

The plot:

Conan is hired (or rather tricked into taking on the job) by a Stygian sorceress named Hathor-Ka to deliver certain items to Ben Morgh, Crom's mountain home in Cimmeria. A Vendhyan sorceror named Jaganath is also making the journey, and his exploits are also followed. While on his way to Cimmeria, Conan passes through the Border Kingdom, saving a chieftainess from death. Afterwards, he resumes his journey, arrives in Cimmeria and finds the clans are preparing for war against supernatural foes that have destroyed many homesteads and slain or captured many Cimmerians. It all ties into Conan's mission and his journey to Ben Morgh coincides with the gathering of the clans and their march there as well.

What I liked:

Roberts does a good job of keeping a Howardian flavor to his writings. I particularly noted that he treats sorcery and demons/otherworldly things much as I think Howard did. He never gives you a particular description, but rather describes the feeling or impression the thing leaves. An early example of this is a description of a rune - instead of trying to portray exactly what it looks like he simply writes, "The seal was stamped with an oddly disturbing heiroglyph."

The book has what Ring-Haunter calls a split structure. It starts out with the story of the journey to Ben Morgh, and then the story in the Border Kingdoms seems like an entirely seperate entity. The initial plot is returned to after Conan leaves the Border Kingdom. Personally, I liked the Border Kingdom part better than the rest - it seemed more true to Conan. He is in charge of his own destiny, and the battle with the King Bull is fantastic. It seems, as Ring-Haunter has suggested, that this was a story written completely seperate from the rest of the book. Perhaps Roberts had 2 short stories that he simply combined to make a novel for Tor?

Roberts seems to have done his research, he puts alot of details about the Hyborian world in here, and I don't recall once thinking "That's not right". His Cimmerians are a somber, warlike lot, with a strong sense of honor. Cimmeria itself is a mountainous, sparsely wooded, misty land. This seems to me to be the Cimmeria Howard intended, and I started thinking back to the recent Conan of Venarium and recalling that the landscape seemed much more heavily wooded. Both stories take place in the lands of Conan's clan - which version seems more likely to the rest of you?

In the Crom's cave on Ben Morgh is a huge statue of Crom, with the head so high up that is lost in shadows to most. Jaganath can see it (through some sorcerous means I assume), and seems to be unsettled by what he sees. He has just witnessed Conan deal a blow to a Vanir that cut clear through his armor and halfway through his body - is he seeing the face of Conan on the statue? An interesting detail - it is never made clear what that face is, but that was an idea I had.

What I disliked:

Nothing really threatened to ruin the book for me, but I didn't much like the inclusion of the Khitan sorceror and the borderline "witty" banter he engages Conan in. The character does turn out to be important to the plot, but I could have done without him.

The end was very anti-climactic. Conan has very little influence on events, he is more a pawn of fate. I felt let down at the end a bit.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I plan to read some more of the Tor pastiches to see if there are others that I would enjoy as well. I already know Conan the Bold will not be one as right off the bat he has a female companion that is constantly engaging in "witty" banter with him, and it just drives me nuts! Perhaps Conan the Savage...

I would rate this book at 3 stars - mostly because of the Border Kingdom part, but as a whole it was an enjoyable read.

One more thing - the end of the book has the bizarre Conan the Indestructible by DeCamp, an essay that tries to put all the Conan stories into a chronology. I say bizarre because instead of just putting the stories into a timeline he writes as if serious archaeological studies have been done on Conan's time. Anyway, 2 things jumped out at me here. First, he mentions the conflict between the movie verison of Conan's youth and his own version, and then says that the movie verison seems more likely. WHAT?!?!?!? The only thing I can think of that would have made him write that is that Tor did not have the rights to print the stories written by DeCamp and Carter, and so wanted this other version to be accepted as the true version. Or DeCamp was blinded by the brilliance of Milius :rolleyes: . And second is an example of the kind of phrasing that makes DeCamp's Conan so wrong: "The queen made Chabela her slave and Conan her fancy man." Visions of Conan and the Spider God and Conan saying "forsooth" sprang into my head, bringing back painful memories.


Edit: Just noticed I spelled Valorous wrong in the title of this thread - further proof I don't have the literary backround to do a review :lol:

"Roll on me like a flood, now, if ye dare! Before your viper fangs drink my life I will reap your multitudes like ripened barley - of your severed heads will I build a tower and of your mangled corpses will I rear up a wall!" - Bran Mak Morn in "Worms of the Earth"


#2 Ring-Haunter

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Posted 30 March 2004 - 08:13 PM

Hey Primeval, no need to make excuses for yourself: you did a good job with this review. Some great observations.

You're very right about Roberts's style feeling very Howardian by the fact that he doesn't try to overdescribe but instead offer imperssions and emotional points of contact. Too many authors of Conan think that imitating Howard means wading deep into the world of ancient adjectives, and overwriting to an incredible degree. (I noticed Sean A. Moore had this 'arcane-adjectival-syndrome' in a bad way!)

The end was very anti-climactic. Conan has very little influence on events, he is more a pawn of fate. I felt let down at the end a bit.

This seems to be a common problem with many of the Tor pastiches; the endings don't hold up, and Conan seems peripheral to the story.

My memories of the story are a bit hazy (I read it five years ago) but your synopsis brought a lot back to me. I do recall that the King Bull fight was one of the better action sequences I read in a pastiche book. I'm a bit fuzzier on what I thought about the ending, although I recall a conclusion (which I won't mention in detail here so as not spoil anything) that could really cause a big debate on whether or not Howard would try anything like that.

I have to admire Roberts for taking on the difficult task of going to Conan's homeland, where Howard only gave us hints. A tough task, and I remember thinking he did a good job with it.

So thanks Primeval for the review. Good job, I hope you do more in the future. Posted Image
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#3 Primeval

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Posted 02 April 2004 - 07:21 PM

Well, I tried to undertake a review of Conan the Savage by Leonard Carpenter, but I couldn't get past the first few chapters. The dialogue is written much like DeCamp's - I can't tell if I am reading a story about Conan or some medieval knight. So after one too many "nay, fellow..." and "tis" this or that I threw it down in disgust. Then I remembered this is the same author that did the pastiches where Conan is a pirate, and I couldnt read those for the same reason - too much "avast....aarrgh....matey....look at me I'm a pirate" dialogue. So, this may be a decent story, but if you are like me and were disgusted by the way DeCamp wrote Conan, especially in Conan and the Spider God, then steer clear of this.

"Roll on me like a flood, now, if ye dare! Before your viper fangs drink my life I will reap your multitudes like ripened barley - of your severed heads will I build a tower and of your mangled corpses will I rear up a wall!" - Bran Mak Morn in "Worms of the Earth"


#4 Ring-Haunter

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Posted 02 April 2004 - 09:12 PM

Honestly, I have a hard time getting past the cover. I love Ken Kelley as an artist, but on the cover of Conan the Savage our hero looks like the Incredible Hulk with flesh tones! (And come on, isn't that axe a little impractical?)

Posted Image

I may get around to reading this someday (since I've got a copy of it). Right now I am reading Conan the Defender by Robert Jordan (his second Conan book, and the second Conan novel from Tor). I should have a review of it up by early next week.
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#5 Primeval

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Posted 02 April 2004 - 09:59 PM

Well, I have the trade paperback and the cover is a bit different - the axe/hammer is a two-handed weapon. I personally like the extreme physique Kelly tends to give Conan, while also realizing it isnt really how Howard would have envisioned him.

I will look through my collection and try to find another pastiche to try - maybe another by Roberts since I liked Valorous.

"Roll on me like a flood, now, if ye dare! Before your viper fangs drink my life I will reap your multitudes like ripened barley - of your severed heads will I build a tower and of your mangled corpses will I rear up a wall!" - Bran Mak Morn in "Worms of the Earth"


#6 Primeval

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Posted 02 April 2004 - 10:01 PM

Oh, probably a stupid question: how do you insert an image into your post?

"Roll on me like a flood, now, if ye dare! Before your viper fangs drink my life I will reap your multitudes like ripened barley - of your severed heads will I build a tower and of your mangled corpses will I rear up a wall!" - Bran Mak Morn in "Worms of the Earth"


#7 TroceroQuijas

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Posted 03 April 2004 - 06:10 PM

Valorous was good
"Maddened with the sight of victory, these wild peoples were like wounded tigers, feeling no wounds, and dying on their feet with their last gasp a snarl of fury"

#8 Buxom Sorceress

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Posted 04 April 2004 - 06:12 AM

:) hi Primeval !

HOW TO PUT IMAGES [pics] INTO YOUR POSTS or signatures -

THIS IS HOW TO ADD A SMALL PIC INTO YOUR SIGNATURE - [use same techniques to put a pic into any topic or reply post]
-
1- 1st u must find a SMALL pic which exists on any website ( or upload your own pic to a website ).
[ NB. u cannot link or paste a pic direct from your pc onto this site! other folks will not see it on their screens so don't waste your time! ]
-
2- r-c (= right-click with right mouse button) on the chosen pic to open a small menu.
sel (= select with left mouse button) properties.
find the 'address URL' (web address) of pic.
copy this url carefully + sel 'ok'.
-
3- goto edit sig (signature) [or goto post new topic or reply?] in conan.com.
clik mouse cursor into the sig text area + sel [ IMG ] button (its just under 'font box' ) to open a small url box.
carefully paste (or type) the url of your pic into this box + sel ok.
check that the url has appeared in the sig text area !
( u can add any text in here as usual )
-
4- now sel [ update my sig ] button [or Preview] + check that all looks ok ?
-
5- after posting a pic in your message, if in doubt, ask other members to confirm that they can view your pic ok?
-
6- sit back + smugly admire your work + thank the helpfull buxom sorceress - - ;)
-
so now u can all brighten up any sig or post + change your sig pic every month or so - - - as i do.
-
help + kisses from an artistic witch ? * * * ;)

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leaving most warriors drooling and staring.
After I danced with my exotic flesh baring
I would vanish into the new Sunrise glaring."

#9 Primeval

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Posted 04 April 2004 - 07:01 AM

Great! Thanks for the help (and kisses too :P )!

"Roll on me like a flood, now, if ye dare! Before your viper fangs drink my life I will reap your multitudes like ripened barley - of your severed heads will I build a tower and of your mangled corpses will I rear up a wall!" - Bran Mak Morn in "Worms of the Earth"


#10 Swiftsteel

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Posted 11 July 2005 - 08:58 PM

CONAN THE VALOROUS by John Maddox Roberts

Reviewed by Swiftsteel

I don?t know if anyone?s ever done this one before, so if my two-cents-worth is in any way redundant I apologize. That said though, in terms of quality TOR pastiche Conan novels, Valorous was always a favourite of mine. Here?s why.

Chronologically speaking the story opens somewhere between the events described in DeCamp/Carter?s The Bloodstained God and REH?s own masterwork The Frost Giant?s Daughter.

Following a period of extreme debauch during which he has managed to drink, wench, and gamble away his most recent fortune we find Conan in the equivalent of a $10-a-night hostel on the bad side of town in Korshemish, Koth. It is here that he is approached by a Stygian sorceress named Hathor-Ka ? a rival of Thoth-Amon?s ? and her Zuagir(???) manservant Moulay. Hathor-Ka it seems, has a mission she needs undertaken involving the delivery of a mysterious sorcerous vial and the chanting of her name three times over said vial in a mountain cave in Cimmeria by the time of the Autumnal Equinox. Of course, who better to accomplish the task than a Cimmerian!?! Having heard of the exploits of one Conan ? a Cimmerian ? her choice of employee is obvious.

Being currently down and out, Conan ? while ever wary of sorcery ? is likewise obviously only too happy at the chance to earn some more gold. Especially when the task is as simple as delivering something as innocuous as a ?mysterious sorcerous vial? to his own homeland and chanting a little mumbo-jumbo over it to boot. The catch comes of course when the manipulative sorceress tricks the hungover and greedy Conan into swearing by Crom that he will succeed in his mission no matter what, thus binding the warrior by an oath of honour to his unforgiving northern God. The only problem is that the mountain Conan must deliver the vial to is none other than Ben Morgh ? Crom?s Mount ? and a place of great superstitious dread for the Cimmerian warrior. Severely nettled at having been misled Conan nevertheless is a man of his word, and agrees to take the task on. After purchasing new gear (including a strange, possibly mystical sword) with Hathor-Ka?s gold, as well as encountering a Khitain soothsayer who might also be more than he seems, Conan heads north to Cimmeria.

At the same time as all of this is going on, a second story arc is introduced concerning the Vendhyan sorcerer Jaganath and his apprentice Gopal who are likewise intent upon reaching Ben Morgh by the time of the Autumnal Equinox. These two are apparently rivals of Hathor-Ka?s. It turns out that according to The Scrolls of Skelos (what else!?!) an event of great cosmic and sorcerous portent is due to take place during the Equinox when a new star will rise, signaling the time wherein a new ?Supreme Sorcerer? may rise to rule the world if only he/she is able to stand within the great cave of Ben Morgh at the first light of the Equinox to make sacrifice and chant the appropriate sacred words that will summon the Elder God who can grant such power. Only an ?Arrow of Indra? a magical comet which comes every ten-thousand years or so can slay such a one, thus ensuring the sorcerer in question at least a ten-thousand year tyrannical reign. Thus Hathor-Ka, Jaganath, and probably many other sorcerers in the know are suddenly very interested in reaching Ben Morgh by the time of the Equinox.

Throughout the ensuing chapters we follow the journeys of our characters as they venture north to Cimmeria. Conan takes the overland route on Hathor-Ka?s behalf encountering a brush with almost-death via a sorcerous wound, a fight with bandits, and a weird 360-degree, and IMO completely unnecessary plot turn involving a hiatus in the Border Kingdom where Conan becomes briefly embroiled in the pseudo-Saxon tribal feuds/wars of the Border Kingdomers on behalf of one Queen Aelfrith against the mad King Atzel who has encroached upon her lands and kidnapped her daughter. This is - again - an odd segue with little purpose within the context of the original plot outlined at the beginning of the novel other than to set up events pitting Conan against a giant prehistoric bull and affording him a brief ?lust interest? before continuing north into Cimmeria. With a bit of fleshing out this two-to-three-chapter mini-novel-within-the-novel could have been developed into a quite serviceable pastiche all on it?s own (actually it more or less was: see JMR?s later Conan the Champion).
Jaganath and Gopal meanwhile board a Barachan pirate ship in Argos and head north by way of the sea to pseudo-Scandinavian Vanaheim. Along the way the reader is treated to a quite graphic and unnerving scene detailing Jaganath?s sacrifice of the entire crew to the Elder Gods of the Sea in return for what is vaguely described as greater sorcerous knowledge and power. The pair?s arrival in Vanaheim is more interesting however as we are introduced to one of the more ?likeable? Conan antagonists in the form of the warlike, proto-Norse Vanir chieftain Starkad who the Vendhyans hire to accompany them into Cimmeria on the last leg of their journey. Starkad is of course only too happy at the prospect of leading a sizeable war party into the land of his enemies, and with axes in hand, he and his Vanir sally forth with the sorcerers into Cimmeria.

By now Conan has reached Cimmeria as well. JMR does a great job here of describing a very believable and faithful-to-REH?s vision picture of the land of Conan?s birth as a cold, rocky, windswept, and barren land of mists and stone. Here we meet members of Conan?s clan ? the Canach ? including a young warrior named Chulainn who serves as something of a prot?g? to Conan for the remainder of the tale. Conan is given a less than hospitable welcome and is in fact treated with a certain disdain for leaving his people to seek such ?unmanly? things as personal glory, adventure, women, and gold. Conan is likewise reminded of how dour, sullen, and frankly?f***ing boring his own people are and is barely there five minutes before he is chomping at the bit to get his mission over with and return south again to the Hyborean Lands for more personal glory, adventure, women, and gold.

There is ? by the way ? a brief single chapter interlude around this point in the story taking place in pseudo-Egyptian Stygia wherein Hathor-Ka transports herself to the sorcerous worlds-between-the-worlds for a dialogue with rival Thoth-Amon who grants her certain occult knowledge and - unable to make the journey to Ben Morgh himself - proposes a joint ten-thousand year rule with her should her plans there take fruition. In her greed Hathor-Ka agrees, of course planning to betray Thoth, but one is left with the feeling that she has perhaps bitten off more than she can chew. He is after all, the greatest wizard of the Hyborean Age and survives to battle King Conan later on in the series. So it's obvious right here that things are not destined to go well for Hathor-Ka.

Now it turns out that all is not well in Cimmeria either. Strange things have been going on that seem to stem from within the caves of Ben Morgh. Whole clans and villages have been wiped out and the people either massacred or mysteriously disappeared. There is no evidence to suggest that traditional enemies such as the Vanir, Picts, or Hyperboreans are responsible, so a superstitious fear has begun to sweep the land. Among the missing is Chulainn?s own love, Bronwith. Undeterred by the tales and set upon completing his mission Conan sets off for Ben Morgh with only Chulainn willing to accompany him. Along the way the old Khitain soothsayer ? Cha as he is here named - mysteriously turns up, insisting upon accompanying the Cimmerians on their quest. Baffled and irritated Conan nevertheless agrees to allow the old coot along for the ride.
Upon reaching Ben Morgh, the trio enter the caves taking them deep underground where they discover that Demons have infested Crom?s Mount. In fairly graphic detail JMR describes a scene wherein Conan and Co. enter the ?Demon?s Nest? ? a Bosch/Bruegel-type nether-Hell deep within the bowels of the mountain ? where the Cimmerian captives are being tortured and tormented by the foul beings. Battle ensues and Bronwith and the others are rescued. On the way out Conan encounters Starkad and the Vanir who have likewise reached the mountain with Jaganath and Gopal in tow and even further battle takes place before the Cimmerians are able to escape the mountain.

With the ragtag survivors of the Demon?s Nest in tow, Conan, Chulainn, and Cha enter the sacred Cimmerian Field of Chiefs where the fallen Cimmerian chiefs are buried. Here they encounter a gathering of all of the Cimmerian clans, as well as a handful of Aesir allies who have gathered (much as they did decades before at Venarium) to drive out the mysterious menace within Ben Morgh. It is here that everything comes to a head: the Cimmerian clans take part ina spectacular battle against both Vanir warriors and Demons crawling out from the bowels of Ben Morgh. Conan slays Starkad and makes his way up into Crom?s great cave where he fulfills his mission. Hathor-Ka magically appears as a result of Conan?s unwitting sorcerous aid which also summons a Dark Elder God who is supposed to be the being who grants this suppsed ?ten-thousand-year reign of power? to the mage lucky enough to receive it. Jaganath and Gopal also arrive and a sorcerous battle takes place to see who will be the ?Supreme Sorcerer? who will rule for the next ten-thousand years. Here several key plot lines are brought to conclusion. For one thing, it turns out that Hathor-Ka was the one who had summoned the Demons to Ben Morgh to round up prisoners for her sacrifice. Jaganath and Gopal had likewise intended to use the Vanir for the same purpose. Both were foiled by Conan of course as the Cimmerian captives were freed and the Vanir slain cleanly on the field of battle. In the ensuing chaos the Cthuloid Dark Elder God ? a malevolent being who truly has no intention of granting anyone anything ? devours Hathor-Ka who finds to her horror that she has chanted the wrong spell (given to her of course by ol? Thoth who has obviously betrayed her). Jaganath however manages to chant the right spell and is just beginning to be imbued with new power when he is slain by Conan whose sword just so happens to have been forged ten-thousand years prior from?you guessed it?an ?Arrow of Indra?. In an admittedly cool climax, the foot of the great statue of Crom that resides within Ben Morgh then rises to grind both the dying Jaganath and the Dark Elder God into dust.

At the end of this tale of bloody sorcery both the Demons and Vanir invaders are defeated, as well as the sorcerers who would deign to use Crom's Mount for their own designs. Cha reveals himself as a sorcerer of good intent who has been subtly manipulating Conan?s efforts throughout the story, much as Thoth-Amon was apparently likewise influencing the efforts of his rivals to his own ends. Conan, disgusted as ever with the machinations of wizards leaves his own mystical blade to Chulainn and Bronwith?s unborn son and heads north with the Aesir for the promise of cleaner battle amongst the Vanir and the Hyperboreans and setting the stage for the events in Howard?s The Frost Giants Daughter.
Overall, a very good Conan pastiche. One of the better. There is plenty of bloody conflict, gore, and sinister magic. Conan himself is portrayed as a brash, reckless, and courageous rogue full of life and vitality who as ever finds that his own lusty appetites often get him into big trouble with forces larger than he is. Nevertheless he still wins out by the strength of his own iron will, unstoppable courage, and remorseless swordarm. Supporting characters ? both good and evil ? are painted in broad, yet detailed strokes that give them immediate likeability and mark them as memorable additions to the Conan canon. Despite the aforementioned unnecessary ?filler? plot-turn around the middle of the book the story flows well and builds up to a suitably dark and Howardian climax. Definitely a highly enjoyable and highly recommended Conan pastiche that is faithful to the character and the mythos.

Edited by Swiftsteel, 12 July 2005 - 01:52 AM.


#11 VincentDarlage

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Posted 11 July 2005 - 10:35 PM

By now Conan has reached Cimmeria as well. JMR does a great job here of describing a very believable and faithful-to-REH?s vision picture of the land of Conan?s birth as a cold, rocky, windswept, and barren land of mists and stone.



That is not a faithful-to-REH vision of Cimmeria. In Phoenix on the Sword, REH writes, "A gloomier land never was ? all of hills, darkly wooded, under skies nearly always gray, with winds moaning drearily down the valleys."

In the poem Cimmeria, REH writes about "The dimness of the everlasting woods."

In an early draft of Phoenix on the Sword, REH writes, "A gloomier land never existed on earth. It is all of hills, heavily wooded, and the trees are strangely dusky, so that even by day all the land looks dark and menacing. As far as a man may see his eye rests on the endless vista of hills beyond hills, growing darker and darker in the distance. Clouds hang always among those hills; the skies are nearly always grey and over-cast. Winds blow sharp and cold, driving rain of sleet or snow, and moan drearily among the passes and down the valleys. There is little mirth in that land, and men grow moody and strange."

This is the truest image of Cimmeria, and is not the image JMR chose to portray. It is a land of mist, rain, forests and hills, not a barren land of mist and stone. The way he portrayed Cimmeria in that novel actually ruined it for me.

#12 Swiftsteel

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Posted 11 July 2005 - 10:53 PM

Fair point. In ...Valorous Cimmeria is indeed portrayed as a mostly 'treeless land'. If I remember correctly though, JMR does mention that Cimmeria is indeed wooded - albeit sparsely - along it's southern and western borders around Pictland/Aquilonia/The Border Kingdom and at one point refers to the bringing down of game that has come down 'from the wooded hills', but overall chooses to go with the more 'barren' descriptives for it's central and northern reaches wherein this story is mostly set. Reminded me a lot of the way I imagine the heather and hills of Scotland would look which is likewise fairly appropo given Cimmeria's proto-Scottish/Irish location. In another novel by JMR - Conan the Bold - the first few chapters are set in southern Cimmeria which is described as heavily wooded. Whatever. I guess that's just the author's choice of 'artistic license' and personal interpretation/imagination coming through. Still leagues ahead of Turtledove's version of Cimmeria from what I gather. Minor semantics aside the Maddox Roberts version worked quite well overall in my opinion.

Edited by Swiftsteel, 12 July 2005 - 01:49 AM.


#13 Buxom Sorceress

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Posted 12 July 2005 - 02:08 AM

CONAN THE VALOROUS by John Maddox Roberts
..was always a favourite of mine..

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

thanks for your very detailed review of 1 of my fave best Conan pastiches.
i score /rate VALOROUS = 4 of 5. very good, + highly recommend it! B)

please could u give your reviews a RATING score aswell?

however, please put a big 'SPOILER WARNING' on if u are going to reveal vital parts of the plot or climax or big surprises?
u have told almost the entire story aswell as the big surprise ending!?! ;)

if u reveal too much in a review then i think it spoils any great surprises, + folks are less likely to bother reading the book?
--
i have noticed that my own review style tends to vary like this...
a. if i like a book, i will praise it highly but i will reveal very little of the plot. + i never detail any big surprises or the climax. [ cos i want other fans to enjoy reading it. + hopefully they will rate + discuss it here later?]

b. but if i really dislike or hate a book, i dont pull any punches. + then i tend to reveal more of the plot bits so i can criticise em as examples.
its interesting that some of the worst books tend to get more posts /responses here than the best books? :D
--
anyway, keep up the good work. [ no offence intended in my comments.]
:)

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."

#14 Swiftsteel

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Posted 12 July 2005 - 02:12 AM

None taken. I'll take your advice when next I write one of these. Also, if I were to grade it I'd likewise give it something like a 9/10. Thanx!

#15 Buxom Sorceress

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Posted 12 July 2005 - 02:38 AM

That is not a faithful-to-REH vision of Cimmeria.  In Phoenix on the Sword, REH writes, "A gloomier land never was ? all of hills, darkly wooded, under skies nearly always gray, with winds moaning drearily down the valleys."..

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good points.
but the book is so good, powerful, + entertaining that any differences were soon sent to the back of my mind.

JM ROBERTS is my fave Conan pastiche writer. + his version of grim, clever, proud Conan is the most similar to Howards.
he does a fine, gritty, rousing version of Cimmeria + its varied clans. + even the chapter when Conan tells his friends about the cities + women of greater hyboria is brilliant + very amusing. B)

please read my other reviews of his books for more info + praise of a great writer.
:)

#16 budgie

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Posted 12 July 2005 - 08:32 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..

Rannock Moor in the Highlands of Scotlands an excellent example of how I pictured JMR's Cimmeria in that story..

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#17 VincentDarlage

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Posted 12 July 2005 - 01:21 PM

JM ROBERTS is my fave Conan pastiche writer. + his version of grim, clever, proud Conan is the most similar to Howards.


Oh, don't get me wrong. I like JMR's writings for the most part. I just dislike his portrayal of Cimmeria; it wasn't what I was looking for. The "completely unnecessary plot turn" in the border kingdom was another huge weakness of the novel. I thought this was the weakest of JMR's stories.

Although I liked Offut's and Hocking's pastiches better, JMR is a far cry above most of the other pastiche writers, especially Carpenter and Green.

Edited by VincentDarlage, 12 July 2005 - 01:27 PM.


#18 Speelie

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Posted 13 July 2005 - 07:06 AM

I always found this one of the best pastiche Conans I ever read (that is, I liked it in 1988 or so, and I still like it now, rereading sections). As I've written before, Roberts' portrayal of Conan and his world feels "right" to me. It doesn't feel like REH, but it also doesn't feel like it was written by someone with no real understanding of the Hyborian Age.

Nice review, though I do echo the idea of putting spolier alerts into the text. Please write more reviews, as time allows, and I'll try and do the same!

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Posted 24 July 2005 - 09:07 AM

I don't think "valorous" is a good word to describe Conan with. He's not a good or bad guy, he just does what he wants and has his own code of honour. He does the right thing in the end, but tries to make sure there's something in it for him. That's the stuff I enjoy about the character: he's grim, gritty, doesn't always win, and isn't a soft, blond-haired boyscout. We all know the hero has to win in the end or there's no point to the book. I don't think I'd want Conan to really be a good guy, also because his era/time is one with a thinner sense of good and evil than ours. Making him an actual hero would take away from that aspect which adds much of the savagery and paganism to his world, which are unique qualities that you wouldn't find in tales about Middle-Earth, Faerun or Arthurian Britain (all of which are places where the constant good/evil conflict is what almost everything revolves around).

#20 Valin

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Posted 30 July 2005 - 06:43 PM

I don't think I'd want Conan to really be a good guy, also because his era/time is one with a thinner sense of good and evil than ours.


I'm slightly off topic (regarding the book review), but I think that you have made a good point. That ambiguous quality about Conan sets him apart from modern heroes, and put his firmly in place among the ancient heroes. Achilles, Odysseus, Heracles, Gilgamesh are not what modern readers would call good guys. They tended to be arrogant, bloodthirsty, and, usually, out for themselves. Even Moses, Samson, David, and Solomon did things that we wouldn't equate with being pure and good.

I think that that's why REH's writing evokes, for me, those legendary epics and tales better than most 20th and 21st century fiction does.
"He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad." ... Rafael Sabatini