Conan of the Red Brotherhood

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Conan of the Red Brotherhood by Leonard Carpenter.

Of the five or six authors who contributed multiple novels each to the long series of Conan pastiches published by Tor Fantasy in the early 1990s, I am now satisfied that Leonard Carpenter did the best justice to Robert E. Howard’s original character and settings. In Conan of the Red Brotherhood, he offers a sequel to the Howard tale “Iron Shadows in the Moon,” at the end of which Conan had acquired the captaincy of a pirate vessel on the Vilayet Sea. This Conan is one who has led men in a variety of circumstances, knows his own powers, and fosters growing ambitions.

The book is largely focused on Conan’s own struggles to achieve the loyalty of his pirate crew and the cooperation of several women, all while nurturing his aim to build a sort of nautical kingdom. There is also some pivotal monster-fighting. Meanwhile, a parallel plot is centered in the Turanian capital of Aghrapur, where various sages, sorcerers, and inventors are vying for imperial favor in their development of new techniques for dominating naval warfare. In both the primary and secondary plots, the characters are developed in a satisfying way that reminds me more of Howard’s own work than most of his latter-day imitators. And at the end, the two plots are brought together neatly enough to answer any hints and promises given earlier. [via]