Tag Archives: Leonard Carpenter

Conan the Raider

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Conan the Raider by Leonard Carpenter.

Carpenter Conan the Raider

Carpenter’s novel is an adroit pastiche of the Robert E. Howard Conan. It is very explicitly tagged for insertion into the established continuity by the presence of the Star of Khorala gem, which Conan is seeking to reclaim at the outset of the novel, signaling a placement just following Howard’s “Shadows in Zamboula.” 

Raider is set in Abbadrah, a Shemite city on the north bank of the Styx, so the cultural matrix is that of the ancient near east: a fantasy eastern Mediterranean culture strongly influenced by its faux-Egyptian neighbor Stygia to the south. A preliminary adventure with Valusian serpent-men proves to be a mere warmup with no deeper connections to the larger plot other than to introduce some characters and set the central business as that of Conan’s membership in a company of tomb-robbers (the “raiders” of the title). The loathsomeness of the Abbadran ruling class is especially well developed. Even the princess Afrit, whom Conan favors both politically and intimately, has a measure of dislikability. The “prophet” Horaspes, a Stygian emigre, is a paragon of malevolent priestcraft. 

Conan develops a tense peer relationship with a Vanirman who leads the raiders, not least due to the dancer who seduces them both. This circle of interactions helps to keep a confused, human core in a story full of sorcerous villainy and Conan’s usual near-invincibility. On the whole, this tale was well-paced and succeeded in recreating the sense of adventure that Howard gave to his Conan stories.

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]