I finished Conan of the Isles last week, and I finished Conan the Buccaneer 2 weeks ago. I am currently reading through all Conan tales by DeCamp, Carter, and Nyberg.
I agree that Conan of the Isles is better than Conan the Buccaneer.
I think that each novel (Conan the Buccaneer and Conan of the Isles) has strong first half. I really enjoyed sailing parts in both books. DeCamp or/and Carter clearly loved the sea, and they create nice atmosphere in the novels. I could hear seagulls and ships creaking and could smell fresh sea breeze when I was reading these passages. After Conan gets on land, I found the books to be less enjoyable, but the Isles is clearly superior of the two throughout.
Both books also have some things that I found odd. In the Buccaneer, Conan is holding back tears when he is saying goodbye to his friend Juma. This felt out character for me. In the Isles, there is the scuba diving sequence that felt a bit out place in Conan's world.
There is barely any action in the Buccaneer until the very end of the novel. This was a major disappointment for Conan's tale. It was even more disappointing because Decamp & Carter had good opportunities to write nice action sequences. For instance, there is a scene in the Buccaneer where Conan is captured by slavers. DeCamp & Carter could have written a big fight where Conan kills several of the slavers before finally succumbing to them. Instead, the slavers drop a net on Conan from above, and Conan is captured. The end... no fight... nothing...This was an odd choice on their part considering I was more than half way through the novel. And up to that point, the novel has one poorly written action sequence where Conan is chased by yet another stone idol that has come to life. The stone idol that comes to life is a Conan trope for me at this point along with a white skinned woman with long dark wavy hair, a hawk featured face, an ape, and a forgotten city/ruins... I also felt the novel loses its narrative focus after Conan gets to mainland. The ending and the sailing parts salvaged the novel for me.
At least, the Isles has several action sequences that are well done such a naval battle, a duel, and yes, Conan's fight with big rats. I also found that the Isles handles its supernatural element much better than the Buccaneer. And, as I mentioned earlier, the saling/pirate parts are fun to read and nicely atmospheric.
After reading both novels, I wish that DeCamp & Carter wrote a straight up pirate adventure tale for Conan at some point. The one that has a lot of naval warfare, city sackings, fort sieges and so on. I think that they would have done a fine job.
In the end, I recommend Conan of the Isles. It is not perfect, but I found it is an enjoyable read. It is tougher to recommend Conan the Buccaneer unless one is a big fan of Conan as a pirate.
Edited by SwiftSweeper, 22 May 2015 - 08:26 AM.