Conan the Barbarian

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Hither came Conan the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

Conan the Barbarian (also known as Conan the Cimmerian) is a fictional character created by Robert E. Howard in a series of fantasy pulp stories published in Weird Tales in the 1930s. After Howard committed suicide in 1936, his unfinished works were edited and expanded upon by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter. The character of Conan has been penned by a number of authors mostly notably by Robert Jordan and Oliver Stone (who helped write the 1982 film).

Conan has been the focus of other media works in addition to books. He has appeared in comic books since 1970, been used in two feature length films in the 1980s staring Arnold Schwarzenegger, three different television series in the 1990s, and video games since 1984.

See Also:
Robert E. Howard
Conan the Barbarian (film) (1982)
Conan the Destroyer (1984)
Conan the Adventurer
Conan the Barbarian (2011)

Literary works[edit]

Know, oh prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars

Robert E. Howard[edit]

"The Phoenix on the Sword" (1932)[edit]

novelette; Weird Tales 20 6, Dec 1932

  • What do I know of cultured ways, the gilt, the craft and the lie?
    I, who was born in a naked land and bred in the open sky.
    The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
    Rush in and die, dogs—I was a man before I was a king.
  • They stopped short. Conan faced them, not a naked man roused mazed and unarmed from deep sleep to be butchered like a sheep, but a barbarian wide awake and at bay, partly armoured and with a long sword in his hand.
  • Conan sensed their uncertainty and grinned mirthlessly and ferociously. "Who dies first?"
  • "They have no hope here or hereafter," answered Conan. "Their gods are Crom and his dark race, who rule over a sunless place of everlasting mist, which is the world of the dead. Mitra! The ways of the Aesir were more to my liking."
  • Know, O prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars - Nemedia, Ophir, Brythunia, Hyperborea, Zamora with its dark-haired women and towers of spider-haunted mystery, Zingara with its chivalry, Koth that bordered on the pastoral lands of Shem, Stygia with its shadow-guarded tombs, Hyrkania whose riders wore steel and silk and gold. But the proudest kingdom of the world was Aquilonia, reigning supreme in the dreaming west.
  • Hither came Conan the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.
  • When I was a fighting-man, the kettle-drums they beat,
    The people scattered gold-dust before my horses feet;
    But now I am a great king, the people hound my track
    With poison in my wine-cup, and daggers at my back.
  • "Wits and swords are as straws against the wisdom of the Darkness..."

"The Scarlet Citadel" (1933)[edit]

novelette; Weird Tales 21 1, Jan 1933

  • Gleaming shell of an outworn lie; fable of Right divine—
    You gained your crowns by heritage, but Blood was the price of mine.
    The throne that I won by blood and sweat , by Crom, I will not sell
    For promise of valleys filled with gold, or threat of the Halls of Hell!
  • The Lion strode through the Halls of Hell;
    Across his path grim shadows fell
    Of many a mowing, nameless shape
    Monsters with dripping jaws agape.
    The darkness shuddered with scream and yell
    When the Lion stalked through the Halls of Hell.
  • "...Free my hands and I'll varnish this floor with your brains!"
  • "Crom!" his mighty shoulders twitched. "A murrain of these wizardly feuds! Pelias has dealt well with me, but I care not if I see him no more. Give me a clean sword and a clean foe to flesh it in. Damnation! What would I not give for a flagon of wine!"
  • Aye, you white dog, you are like all your race; but to a black man gold can never pay for blood.
    • A former chief of Abombi to Conan

"The Tower of the Elephant" (1933)[edit]

novelette; Weird Tales 21 3, Mar 1933

  • Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing.

"Black Colossus" (1933)[edit]

novelette; Weird Tales 21 6, Jun 1933

  • Not for naught had he gained access into darksome cults, had harkened to the grisly whispers of the votaries of Skelos under midnight trees, and read the forbidden iron-bound books of Vathelos the Blind.
  • Reeling up, blood streaming down his face from under his dented helmet, Conan glared dizzily at the profusion of destruction which spread before him. From crest to crest the dead lay strewn, a red carpet that choked the valley. It was like a red sea, with each wave a straggling line of corpses.
  • "This day you become knights!" he laughed fiercely, pointing with his dripping sword towards the hillmen horses, herded nearby. "Mount and follow me to hell!"

"Xuthal of the Dusk" (1933)[edit]

novelette; Weird Tales 22 3, Sep 1933; also as "The Slithering Shadow"

  • "By Crom, I do not like this place, where dead men rise, and sleeping men vanish into the bellies of shadows!"
  • Conan's hand fell heavily on her naked shoulder.
    "Stand aside, girl," he mumbled. "Now is the feasting of swords."

"The Pool of the Black One" (1933)[edit]

novelette; Weird Tales 22 4, Oct 1933

  • She who had been the spoiled and petted daughter of the Duke of Kordava, learned what is was to be a buccaneer's plaything, and because she was supple enough to bend without breaking, she lived where other women had died, and because she was young and vibrant with life, she came to find pleasure in the existence.
  • The dullest was struck by the contrast between the harsh, taciturn, gloomy commander, and the pirate whose laugh was gusty and ready, who roared ribald songs in a dozen languages, guzzled ale like a toper, and--apparently--had no thought for the morrow.

"Rogues in the House" (1934)[edit]

novelette; Weird Tales 23 1, Jan 1934

  • "When I cannot stand alone, it will be time to die," he mumbled, through mashed lips. "But I'd like a flagon of wine."
  • "If that's true, then answer this priest, why are we in these pits, hiding from some animal?" Conan asked "Someday, when all your civilization and science are likewise swept away, your kind will pray for a man with a sword."

"Iron Shadows in the Moon" (1934)[edit]

novelette; Weird Tales 23 4, Apr 1934; also as "Shadows in the Moonlight"

  • Conan wheeled toward the gaping corsairs.
    "Well, you dogs!" he roared, "I've sent your chief to hell--what says the law of the Red Brotherhood?"

"Queen of the Black Coast" (1934)[edit]

novelette; Weird Tales 23 5, May 1934

  • He shrugged his shoulders. "I have known many gods. He who denies them is as blind as he who trusts them too deeply. I seek not beyond death. It may be the blackness averred by the Nemedian skeptics, or Crom's realm of ice and cloud, or the snowy plains and vaulted halls of the Nordheimer's Valhalla. I know not, nor do I care. Let me live deep while I live; let me know the rich juices of red meat and stinging wine on my palate, the hot embrace of white arms, the mad exultation of battle when the blue blades flame and crimson, and I am content. Let teachers and priests and philosophers brood over questions of reality and illusion. I know this: if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content."
  • [The] chief [of the gods of Cimmeria] is Crom. He dwells on a great mountain. What use to call on him? Little he cares if men live or die. Better to be silent than to call his attention to you; he will send you dooms, not fortune! He is grim and loveless, but at birth he breathes power to strive and slay into a man's soul. What else shall men ask of the gods? ... There is no hope here or hereafter in the cult of my people. In this world men struggle and suffer vainly, finding pleasure only in the bright madness of battle; dying, their souls enter a gray misty realm of clouds and icy winds, to wander cheerlessly throughout eternity.
  • "There is life beyond death, I know, and I know this, too, Conan of Cimmeria"--she rose lithely to her knees and caught him in a pantherish embrace--"my love is stronger than any death! I have lain in your arms, panting with the violence of our love; you have held and crushed and conquered me, drawing my soul to your lips with the fierceness of your bruising kisses. My heart is welded to your heart, my soul is part of your soul! Were I still in death and you fighting for life, I would come back to the abyss to aid you--aye, whether my spirit floated with the purple sails on the crystal sea of paradise, or writhed in the molten flames of hell! I am yours, and all the gods and all their eternities shall not sever us!"

"The Devil in Iron" (1934)[edit]

novelette; Weird Tales 24 2, Aug 1934

  • Conan stood paralyzed in the disruption of the faculties which demoralizes anyone who is confronted by an impossible negation of sanity.

"The People of the Black Circle" (1934)[edit]

novella; Weird Tales 24 3–5, Sep/Oct/Nov 1934

"A Witch Shall Be Born" (1934)[edit]

novelette; Weird Tales 24 6, Dec 1934

  • I never saw a man fight as Conan fought. He put his back to the courtyard wall, and before they overpowered him the dead men were strewn in heaps thigh-deep about him. But at last they dragged him down, a hundred against one.
    • Valerius recounting the tale of how Conan was caught

"Jewels of Gwahlur" (1935)[edit]

novelette; Weird Tales 25 3, Mar 1935; also as "The Servants of Bit-Yakin"

  • Conan did not hesitate, nor did he even glance toward the chest that held the wealth of an epoch. With a quickness that would have shamed the spring of a hungry jaguar, he swooped, grasped the girl's arm just as her fingers slipped from the smooth stone, and snatched her up on the span with one explosive heave.

"Beyond the Black River" (1935)[edit]

novella; Weird Tales 25 5–6, May/Jun 1935

  • "Barbarism is the natural state of mankind," the borderer said, still staring somberly at the Cimmerian. "Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph."
  • "There's nothing in the universe cold steel won't cut," answered Conan. "I threw my ax at the demon, and he took no hurt, but I might have missed in the dusk, or a branch deflected its flight. I'm not going out of my way looking for devils; but I wouldn't step out of my path to let one go by."
  • "Civilized men laugh," said Conan. "But not one can tell me how Zogar Sag can call pythons and tigers and leopards out of the wilderness and make them do his bidding. They would say it is a lie, if they dared. That's the way with civilized men. When they can't explain something by their half-baked science, they refuse to believe it."
  • He was concerned only with the naked fundamentals of life. The warm intimacies of small, kindly things, the sentiments and delicious trivialities that make up so much of civilized men's lives were meaningless to him. A wolf was no less a wolf because a whim of chance caused him to run with the watch-dogs. Bloodshed and violence and savagery were the natural elements of the life Conan knew; he could not, and would never, understand the little things that are so dear to civilized men and women.
  • "... 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."

"Shadows in Zamboula" (1935)[edit]

novelette; Weird Tales 26 5, Nov 1935; also as "Man-Eaters of Zamboula"

  • "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...!"

The Hour of the Dragon (1935-1936)[edit]

novel; Weird Tales 26 6 & 25 1–4, Dec 35/Jan/Feb/Mar/Apr 1936; also as Conan the Conqueror

  • He grunted with satisfaction. The feel of the hilt cheered him and gave him a glow of confidence. Whatever webs of conspiracy were drawn about him, whatever trickery and treachery ensnared him, this knife was real. The great muscles of his right arm swelled in anticipation of murderous blows.

"Red Nails" (1936)[edit]

novella; Weird Tales 28 1–3, Jul/Aug-Sep/Oct 1936

"The God in the Bowl" (1952)[edit]

"Not in Vanaheim," growled the black-haired warrior, "but in Valhalla will you tell your brothers that you met Conan of Cimmeria."

novelette, Space Science Fiction, September 1952

  • Arus saw a tall powerfully built youth, naked but for a loin-cloth, and sandals strapped high about his ankles. His skin was burned brown as by the suns of the wastelands and Arus glanced nervously at his broad shoulders, massive chest and heavy arms, A single look at the moody, broad-browed features told the watchman the man was no Nemedian. From under a mop of unruly black hair smoldered a pair of dangerous blue eyes. A long sword hung in a leather scabbard at his girdle.
  • Arus the watchman grasped his crossbow with shaky hands, and he felt beads of clammy perspiration on his skin as he stared at the unlovely corpse sprawling on the polished floor before him. It is not pleasant to come upon Death in a lonely place at midnight.

"The Black Stranger" (1953)[edit]

novelette, Fantasy Magazine, February 1953, also as "The Treasure of Tranicos"

  • "Seek for a shadow that drifts before a cloud that hides the moon; grope in the dark for a cobra; follow a mist that steals out of the swamp at midnight."

"The Frost-Giant's Daughter" (1953)[edit]

novelette, The Coming of Conan, 1953

  • "You cannot escape me!" he roared. "Lead me into a trap and I'll pile the heads of your kinsmen at your feet! Hide from me and I'll tear apart the mountains to find you! I'll follow you to hell!"
  • The clangor of the swords had died away, the shouting of the slaughter was hushed; silence lay on the red-stained snow. The bleak pale sun that glittered so blindingly from the ice-fields and the snow-covered plains struck sheens of silver from rent corselet and broken blade, where the dead lay as they had fallen. The nerveless hand yet gripped the broken hilt; helmeted heads back-drawn in the death-throes, tilted red beards and golden beards grimly upward, as if in last invocation to Ymir the frost-giant, god of a warrior-race...

"The Vale of Lost Women" (1967)[edit]

novelette, The Magazine of Horror, Spring 1967


Quotes about Conan the Barbarian[edit]

  • It may sound fantastic to link the term "realism" with Conan; but as a matter of fact - his supernatural adventures aside - he is the most realistic character I ever evolved. He is simply a combination of a number of men I have known, and I think that's why he seemed to step full-grown into my consciousness when I wrote the first yarn of the series. Some mechanism in my sub-consciousness took the dominant characteristics of various prize-fighters, gunmen, bootleggers, oil field bullies, gamblers, and honest workmen I had come in contact with, and combining them all, produced the amalgamation I call Conan the Cimmerian.
    • From a letter to Clark Ashton Smith from Robert E. Howard (23 July 1935)

External links[edit]

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