Tag Archives: robert jordan

The Further Chronicles of Conan

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Further Chronicles of Conan by Robert Jordan.

Jordan The Further Chronicles of Conan

This omnibus edition includes Conan the Magnificent (my earlier review here), Conan the Triumphant, and Conan the Victorious (my earlier review here). There is no editorial framing to relate the three novels to each other or to any larger Conan continuity. Strangely, the sequence in which they appear in the book is neither their order of first publication (in which Conan the Triumphant led), nor that of their likely narrative chronology (in which Triumphant would be the last of the three). Perhaps this volume reflects the order in which Jordan actually wrote them? They were all originally issued in paperback by Tor Books in a period of little more than a single year.

By sheer chance, I ended up reading the three stories in their chronological sequence. Of the three, Triumphant is the most conservative, in terms of its closeness to the REH character and setting. The other two novels take place in the east of Conan’s world (the far east in the case of Victorious), and demand a little more creativity on Jordan’s part. There is certainly some inventiveness in Triumphant, centering mostly on the nature of the supernatural threat involved: a dormant demon-god held over from the Acheronian-age past who thrives on BDSM. It is somewhat puzzling that this entity has an apparently Arabic name. 

Another notable feature of Triumphant is the reappearance of Karela, a bandit leader nursing a love-hate relationship for Conan that she had developed in previous stories by Jordan; she is only one of the several female characters used ceaselessly –and somewhat preposterously–throughout this novel to emphasize the barbarian’s irresistability for the sexual appetites of all women. 

I retract the hypothesis advanced in my earlier review that Jordan had “never really developed a rhythm for a short stand-alone novel.” In fact, he had written multiple Conan novels before the ones collected here (thus “Further Chronicles”), and these three show scrupulous adherence to a somewhat mechanical formula. The feature that had put me off–a hasty climax and plot resolution–is evidently just the way he writes. Each book dependably features a prologue which provides a first exposition from a “villain’s-eye view.” Then the focus shifts to Conan, and follows his progress into deeper and deeper trouble, with him unaware of the sorcerous elements involved until nearly midway through the book. The entire climax of the book, including the abrupt defeat of the supernatural menace, is packed into a final chapter. And an epilogue details the fates of the principal characters.

The Conan Chronicles

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Conan Chronicles by Robert Jordan.

Jordan The Conan Chronicles Volume 1

When I bought this hardcover omnibus volume of the first three Robert Jordan novels published in the Tor Books Conan series, I thought that I had already read all of them in individual mass-market paperbacks. But when I finally got around to cracking the book, inspired by a perverse nostalgia for the first one Conan the Invincible (certainly one of the earliest Conan books I had read, back in my teens), I discovered that I had never read the other two. So I went ahead and ripped through them; they’re far from heavy reading.

In all three novels, Jordan makes competent though uninspired use of the Hyborian settings: Shadizar, Belverus, and Aghrapur. Karela the Red Hawk and her sometime lieutenant Hordo are original Jordan characters who provide continuity between the first two stories. Karela is a red-haired bandit who seems to have been suggested in part by the Red Sonja comic book character (herself derived from Robert E. Howard’s Red Sonya), and Jordan builds a sexualized frenemy relationship between her and Conan.

The author’s particular erotic fantasies are on evident display consistently through this collection. In each of the first two books, a sorcerer-villain establishes mind control over a beautiful woman and has her strip naked as a demonstration of the effect. (In the third, the lascivious wizard simply asserts supernatural dominance over a woman already nude.) Although it’s not Conan’s most frequent approach, he obtains sex through presumed consent in all three stories, i.e. he forces himself on a woman who is overtly upset with him, and offers to stop if she tells him to–which she doesn’t. In these episodes, the sex is also construed as something the woman in question “owes” to Conan for her misbehavior.

The third novel Conan the Unconquered involves the “Cult of Doom,” which makes it appear rather derivative from the John Milius and Oliver Stone cinematic Conan story that had reached screens the year before Unconquered was published. The villain in this case, though, is not Thulsa Doom (pilfered by the movie from Howard’s Kull stories), but a necromancer named Jhandar. The megalomaniac warlocks that Jordan throws against Conan are in fact disappointingly uniform.

Even among the Tor Conan books, these are merely passable entries, outclassed by many of the later ones. [via]

Conan the Victorious

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Conan the Victorious by Robert Jordan.

Jordan Conan the Victorious

Jordan’s novel is an adequate entertainment grounded in the Conan property. A youngish Conan goes to Vendhya (the Hyborian Age version of East India) in search of revenge and a cure for a poison he’s been afflicted with. Savagery, seductresses, and sorcery ensue.

More curious is the appendix “Conan the Indestructible” by L. Sprague de Camp, which is a thirty-page attempt to construct an integral Conan biography or comprehensive narrative continuity that embraces all of the original Howard stories, the early Carter and de Camp pastiches, the Bantam Conan novels (Offutt, Wagner, de Camp, and Anderson), the Tor Conan books (Jordan, to that point) and even the movie novelizations. It has a few hilarious little passages of mock-scholarship, as it adheres throughout to the conceit that these are genuine legends of pre-antiquity, attested through ancient texts. [via]

Conan the Magnificent

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Conan The Magnificent by Robert Jordan.

Robert Jordan Conan the Magnificent

Well, Robert Jordan neither violated the Conan canon, nor came up with anything especially new and interesting in this novel. The chief villain is a religious leader and sorceror whose level of depraved sexual sublimation is only slightly more explicit than what Conan creator Robert E. Howard would have written. He commands untold hordes of what amount to thinly-disguised Jihadists. (Note that this book was composed during the Gulf War, which perversely mobilized American anti-muslim sentiment against the secular Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein.) Conan is “magnificent” for being able to carry on simultaneous affairs with a noblewoman and a thief, for being absolutely flawless in contests of arms, and for slaying the great monster—yeah, it’s basically a dragon—and thus usurping the evident destiny of one of the supporting characters.

As I was reflecting on what, if anything, might distinguish this book from dozens of other latter-day Conan stories written over the three decades or so, I noticed that the pacing was a little quirky. Jordan’s most conspicuous work is an enormous multi-mega-volume fantasy series called “The Wheel of Time,” so perhaps he has never really developed a rhythm for a short stand-alone novel–even one that could draw on thousands of pages of previous character and setting development. And then it occurred to me that there really is no conventional, formulaic pacing or structure for a Conan novel, at least not as established by REH, since the overwhelming preponderance of Howard’s Conan writing took the form of short stories. In this respect, the tendency of later authors to write Conan novels is in marked contrast with the more conservative inclination of most Lovecraftian pastiche-artists to stick with the original short form.

Anyhow, this book. It doesn’t present Conan as a character in any way that’s likely to be compelling to someone who hasn’t already got some imaginative investment in him from some other source. It’s got gratuitous female nudity and inconvenience, and reasonably amusing rivalries and one-upmanship among the characters. There’s no shortage of violence to adrenalize the melodrama. Being okay with all of that, I was still disappointed by the way that the final chapter resolved plot elements at a rather breakneck pace, almost making it seem as though the climax and denouement were added out of a sense of grudging obligation. [via]

Conan the Valiant

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Conan The Valiant by Roland Green from Tor Fantasy:

Roland Green's Conan the Valiant from Tor Fantasy


This novel features Conan the Cimmerian twice removed from his literary origins. Author Roland Green doesn’t give us Robert E. Howard’s Conan, but rather Robert Jordan’s version of Howard’s hero. If it hadn’t been obvious to me from the level of chatty banter and the excessive nudity and sex, Green makes his debt clear by repeatedly referring to Conan’s former struggle against the “Cult of Doom,” a feature of Jordan’s Conan the Unconquered. The good news is that Green does Jordan’s Conan at least as well as Jordan does, and furnishes supporting characters and intrigue slightly better.

The story bears an odd similarity to another Conan novel I read not long ago, John Hocking’s Conan and the Emerald Lotus. In both books, Conan ends up allying himself to a sorceress, bedding her warrior-maid bodyguard, and journeying with them to confront an evil wizard who has designs on the sorceress. The basis of the magic in the two books is different (vegetable vs. mineral), but both are distinctively green.

Conan the Valiant takes place during Conan’s Turanian soldiering period, and allows him some reflection on the maturity he is gaining even at this early stage in his career. It’s adequate sword-and-sorcery junk food, but offers nothing much to distinguish itself from the great mass of Conan novels. [via]



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