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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bob's Books - Conan the Defiant by Steve Perry

Though many of his stories have grave warts, I think that Robert E. Howard was an amazing writer: specifically in all but creating the sword and sorcery genre. Some of the Conan tales are simply outstanding. There have been dozens of pastiches (Conan tales by other authors) of varying quality. (note to self: poke fun at fellow Sherlockian attitudes toward pastiches. They'd have conniption fits if Holmes was treated like Conan has been).

Tor #13/1987
Second of the five novels that Steve Perry wrote in the fifty-book Tor Series. In William Galen Gray’s chronology it is the fourth Conan tale (following Conan of Venarium, Legions of the Dead and The Thing in the Crypt), taking place before Sean Moore’s Conan the Hunter.
The young Conan comes upon a lone priest being waylaid by five bandits. Impressed with the stranger’s skill with a wooden staff, the Cimmerian wades in and helps the man dispatch his opponents. Cengh, a priest of the Suddah Oblates, is later murdered, sending Conan on a quest of justice for his short-time friend.
In typical Conan fashion, he beds Elashi, a desert-bred warrior maiden as well as Tuanne, a beautiful zombie. Yep, a zombie. Being the irresistable stud he is, the trio engage in threesomes all along their trek to the bad guy’s castle. More adolescent fantasies in a Conan book here.

Neg the Malefic is a necromancer who needs a gem called The Source of Light to raise and unleash a horde of undead minions to conquer the world. Both Conan’s and Elisha’s quests are a result of Neg’s machinations, even though the evil spellcaster has no idea who they are.

There is no shortage of foes in this tale, with undead, the Men with No Eyes, Neg’s lackey, the Suddah Oblates, agents in the employ of The One With No Name and an ensorcelled pack of spiders providing more than enough bad guys at every step of the way. With so many enemies to deal with,

it is surprising how often Conan finds time to have sex with his two travelling partners.
The story, which is rather linear, is an okay read. There is enough tension throughout, with the time element constantly in play and moving things along. The final confrontation with Neg is a bit of a let down and I had to read it a second time, as it didn’t quite make sense on the first try. I’m still not sure it did the second time, either.

Conan the Defiant is worth reading for fans of the muscle-bound sword swinger. On its own merits, it is not a bad heroic sorcery tale. You’ve got fighting, hot women, zombies and an evil sorceror bent on world domination.

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