Strange Aspect of Conan in Howard's writings

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Supplement Four
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Strange Aspect of Conan in Howard's writings

Postby Supplement Four » Tue May 17, 2011 12:36 am

I'm reading The Devil in Iron as I make my way through the original Howard Conan tales. I've been reading Conan stuff for 25 years, but I've never read many of the original stories--spending my Conan reading on pastiches and what not. I think it's about time!

Plus, I love the way Howard writes. It's not so much his plots that grab me. Many of his stories are simple, straight forward tales sans anything that surprises me. What I like about Howard is the atmosphere he creates. When I read his words, I am transported to a time, 10,000 years ago. I feel like I'm really there. The pictures he creates in my head are so strong that I can look around and see things, feel them, smell them and probably taste them, if I tried.

That's "magic" for an author. When I read The Tower of the Elephant, I actually scaled that tower. I looked out over the city at night. There was a light breeze in the air. My feet pressed against the tower wall as I held onto that rope made of virgin hair. I could hear my sandals scrap on the tower's surface. I saw those jewels embedded in the construction.

Many of Howard's tales are that powerful to me. I was dumbfounded when I saw that face at the tip of the snake body in The God in the Bowl. It chilled me to the bone. When I read The Frost Giant's Daughter, I stood there in the red snow. My lungs felt like they were going to burst. The steel in my hand was cold, but it felt good because my muscles burned from the combat.

Enjoying Howard's words so much, it was strange for me to read something that didn't quite jive with all that I've read before.

First off, The Devil in Iron is a strange story anyway, with a bumpy structure. And, it really struck me as strange when I read, towards the end of Chapter V, that Conan recognized animals that were extinct for hundreds of years.

OK, the one that Conan links to the Bori may be common knowledge, but what about the other extinct animal mentioned? People make figurines of long lost animal types?

And, Conan knows of the Book of Skelos and what's in it?

Does that strike anybody else as strange?
kintire
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Postby kintire » Thu May 19, 2011 11:56 am

Conan is not a fool by any means, and by the later parts of his career he has learnt a lot. He can trace the Sign of Jhebbal Sag, who once ruled all animals. Maybe he learnt about the extinct animals from the same source.
rabindranath72
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Postby rabindranath72 » Thu May 19, 2011 12:39 pm

In "Beyond the Black River" Howard writes:
"I saw it carved in the rock of a cave no human had visited for a
million years," muttered Conan, "in the uninhabited mountains beyond
the Sea of Vilayet, half a world away from this spot. Later I saw a
black witch-finder of Kush scratch it in the sand of a nameless river.
He told me part of its meaning--it's sacred to Jhebbal Sag and the
creatures which worship him. Watch!"
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VincentDarlage
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Postby VincentDarlage » Thu May 19, 2011 6:18 pm

Your description is EXACTLY why I am so harsh about pastiches.
Supplement Four
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Postby Supplement Four » Fri May 20, 2011 1:13 am

VincentDarlage wrote:Your description is EXACTLY why I am so harsh about pastiches.
Yeah, I can see that people will want to duplicate the experience they get when they read Howard. As for me, as long as the writer is competent at his craft (unlike Rolan Green and couple of others), I can enjoy a Conan yarn in spite of the fact that I don't get the same kick out of it as I do when I read Howard.

But, sometimes, patstiche authors give me a kick in different spots. Robert Jordan doesn't write the true, grim-n-gritty, barbarian that Howard writes, but he does give us a quite enjoyable, larger-than-life hero Conan.

I prefer Howard, but I enjoy both.

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