[CONAN] Michael Stackpole's version of the Conan movie


In the movie, Conan is in a Messantian tavern where he meets Ela Shan, a thief on the run. Conan acts to get himself and Ela captured and taken to the slave mines overseen by the Aquilonian Lucius--the same Aquilonian that Conan, as a boy, sliced the nose from his face the day Conan's father was killed.

After Conan finds out about the warlord Khalar Zhm from Lucius, the barbarian finds Ela Shan again to pick a lock that will get Conan into Khalar Zhm's fortress.

A lot of about that makes no sense.

But then, when you read Stackpole's book...

Conan meets Ela in the Messantian tavern just like he does in the movie, but instead of the silly way that Conan got himself captured--almost as if he knew there would be no consequence--Conan plays on the prejudices of Lucious' guards. The Hyborians treat the barbarian as if the uncivilized can't also be smart. Conan plays them and gets in front of Lucius under the pretense of becoming a guard.

When interrogating Lucius, he Conan learns that the Aquilonian followed Khalar Zhm years ago, but like so many, he was with those who abandoned the warlord after Khalar Zym did not fullfill his promise to become a god after assembling the the Mask of Acheron. Lucius is an ex-zealot. He believed in Zhm, but today thinks the warlord is a false prophet who misleads his flock.

Lucius and Ela Shan plot together to steal from Zym. Zym has taken over an ancient ruin named Khor Kalba, and Shan has spent a great deal of time studying the place, trying to learn its secrets. Shan found a way inside Khor Kalba, and he tells Conan to ask for him in Asgalun.

Now...doesn't that just make a lot more sense? You don't have Conan finding Shan, who, out of nowhere, opens a lock in a door that allows Conan entry into Khalar Zhm's hideout.

Couldn't there have been a line or two in the film that explained the relationship with Lucius, Ela, and Zhm? A disgruntled ex-cult member, a thief that does his homework, and a warlord that takes over an ancient ruin is a lot more interesting that what we saw in the film.

As a side note, Artus, the captain of the Hornet, tells all in the Messantian tavern that Conan is the thief that stole the Elephant's Heart! But, I got a bigger kick when, in the book, Ela Shan tells Conan that he (Shan) is the man who stole the Elephant's Heart, as if this is a thing that all thieves claim, and Conan doesn't tel Shan that he knows that the thief is full of it.

The book is definitely telling the same story in a better, more believeable way.
Just finished it. It truly is 14,000 times better than the movie. It uses the movie's plot, but where the movie fails to make sense, this book answers the questions.

The only thing not answered is, "Why the land ship?" I was hoping for a palatable explaination of the dirt-side vessel, but it is only referred to as Zym's land ship and HQ while on campaign.

I do like, though, that even with the ship, not everyone in the world has heard of Khalar Zym. He's a big, well-known warlord and all, but he's not so big that the entire world knows and fears him.