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A Marvelous Conan Chronology

This is a list I'm working on, having just finished Conan, the first volume of stories by Robert E. Howard, L. Sprague De Camp, and Lin Carter. I plan on integrating these stories with Conan novels I read, as well as issues from Marvel's Comics' Conan The Barbarian series, to see how later writers enhanced the character's history.

The first major battle in which Conan participates is the battle at Venarium. After the fall of the Aquilonian outpost, Conan returns to his native Cimmeria. Then he hires himself out as a mercenary to a group of Aesir raiders from Aesgaard.

Story: Marvel Conan The Barbarian #1: "The Coming of Conan"
Author: Roy Thomas
It is summer, and Conan's party of Aesir battle a group of Vanir in Vanaheim. After Conan helps his leader Olav fight off three Vanir, the two pursue the fleeing survivors. The Vanir leader Volff and his friend Hothar are two members of a group that recently attacked Aesgaard. Rather than help their fellow Vanir escape their Aesir pursuers, Volff and Hothar sneak away from the others.

Amid their flight, Volff and Hothar find a cave. Inside, they see an old seer, a beautiful handmaiden, and a glowing stone that fell to Earth years ago. The seer offers them a deal: bring them Conan, and he will grant the Vanir victory. Shortly thereafter, a winged demon horde attack Olav's party, killing the leader and carrying off Conan.

Conan wakes in a cage inside the cave. He watches as the seer uses the starstone to peer into his future. Before the seer can complete the ceremony, Conan breaks free, and destroys the starstone, cutting short glimpses of the barbarian's future. Fire fills the cave, and Conan alone escapes, carrying the handmaiden who pitied him. But then, just when he believes he has saved her, she turns into one of the winged demons, and vanishes.

Story: "The Thing in the Crypt" in Conan Volume 1.
Author: Lin Carter & L. Sprague de Camp
Conan's Age: 16
Synopsis: Conan escapes a Hyperborean slave pen only to be pursued by wolves. He hides in a cave, where he finds the decomposing body of a giant seated on a throne, with a sword across its thighs. While Conan desires the sword, its dead is not yet ready to relinquish it. Writer and director John Milius paid homage to this entertaining pastiche in the 1982 movie.

Story: "The Tower of the Elephant" in Conan Volume 1.
Author: Robert E. Howard
Synopsis: Conan arrives in Arenjun, the notorious Zamorian "City of Thieves". Conan scales the Elephant Tower, in the hopes of relieving Yara the high priest of his wealth. But first he must get past lions, and a giant spider. But he doesn't expect to find an elephant-like extraterrestrial inside. This is one of the original classics, and a personal favorite.

Story: "The Hall of the Dead" in Conan Volume 1.
Author: Robert E. Howard & L. Sprague de Camp
Synopsis: Conan explores the ruins of Larsha outside the Shadizar the Wicked, the capital city of Zamora. He and his partner Nestor defeat a giant slug guarding the ruins. Inside the ancient palace, they fight seven mummified guards, and emerge with riches. But when they return to Shadizar, they find their plunder not so easy to spend. As with giant spiders, Conan would encounter more giant slugs, and the undead, throughout his life.

Story: "The God in the Bowl" in Conan Volume 1.
Author: Robert E. Howard
Synopsis: Conan sneaks into a museum in the city of Numalia, in the country Nemedia. Before he can rob the museum, he is discovered by watchmen, and questioned in regard to a dead body found in the museum. In addition to the creature of the title, there's a nice tie-in with the first Conan story Howard wrote, "The Phoenix and the Sword," via a reference to the sorcerer Thoth-Amon. As "The Phoenix and the Sword" takes place much later in Conan's life, this story serves as a nice prequel. Also, the character names, and their society, remind me of ancient Roman society. As Howard loved writing historic fiction best of all, this story seems a nice mix of historic, mystery, and Fantasy genres. Sadly, it wasn't published during his lifetime.

Story: "Rogues in the House" in Conan Volume 1.
Author: Robert E. Howard
Synopsis: In a small city-state in Corinthia, Conan works as a thief in a district called the Maze. There a priest of Anu, in addition to his temple duties, acts as a double agent, fencing stolen goods while acting as an informer for the police. After a Gunderman thief is arrested and killed, Conan discovers the priest's treachery and kills him. He is in turn arrested, but freed shortly after by Murilo, a noble who asks him to kill Nabonidus, known as the Red Priest, and the king's chief advisor. Conan and Murilo sneak into Nabonidus' mansion, which is filled with inventive gadgets and deathtraps. When they are trapped inside, they find Nabonidus, now a prisoner in his own house. The three men agree to put their differences aside, if Nabonidus can steer them past all the deathtraps his semi-intelligent age servant Thak now controls. Nabonidus' inventions remind me of Michael Moorcock's Elric stories.

Story: "The Hand of Nergal" in Conan Volume 1.
Author: Robert E. Howard & Lin Carter
Synopsis: Conan travels to the country of Turan, where he joins the army of King Yildiz. During a battle against a rebellious satrap, Munthassem Khan, the forces of King Yildiz are decimated by spectral, bat-winged creatures. Conan loses consciousness after battling this creature of black sorcery. When he awakens, he finds only one other person, the servant girl Hildico, alive. She tells him her master, the philosopher Atalis, sent her from his home in Yaralet, the city Munthassem Khan rules, to find Conan. Atalis promises Conan gold if he will come. As he has no reason to refuse her, and he is naturally protective of women, Conan sneaks her back into Yaralet and her master's house. There Conan learns that he owes his survival to the Heart of Tammuz, an amulet he recently found. He also learns that Munthassem Khan used to be a good and fair ruler, until he was corrupted by a Stygian artifact called the Hand of Nergal. Atalis offers to sneak Conan into the palace, where, aided by the Heart of Tammuz, Conan should be able to complete his mission, and slay the evil and twisted Khan. But Conan will discover that bearing a talisman, even aided by his mighty strength and indomitable will, is not sufficient to destroy this artifact of black sorcery that has transformed Munthassem Khan to a ruler who represses and torments his people, and has rebelled against the leadership of King Yildiz.

Story: "The City of Skulls" in Conan Volume 1.
Author: Lin Carter & L. Sprague de Camp
Synopsis: Still in the service of King Yildiz of Turan, Conan helps escort Yildiz' daughter Zosara to her wedding to Kujula, the Great Khan of the Kuigar nomads. As their party travels through the Talakma mountains of Hyrkania, they fall prey to attackers. The survivors--Conan, Zosara, and Juma, a giant Black from Kush--are taken to the lakeside city of Shamballah, in the verdant valley of Meru. The city is ruled by the god-king Jalung Thongpa. After an escape attempt, Conan and Juma are sold into slavery. They are chained to the oars of a galley, which plies the seven sacred cities of the Meru. Conan and Juma eventually escape the galley. They return to Shaballah in time to rescue her before she is forced to marry Jalung Thongpa.


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