Howard: Maybe it’s not as deep, or as soulful, as some that are more routinely mentioned by Howard scholars, but this is one of my favorite Conan stories. This is the work of a master who knows exactly how far to push every moment, and understands exactly what his audience wants. Robert E. Howard is in complete control of this narrative from beginning to end.
Robert E. Howard scholar Barbara Barrett sent Bill and me copies of a nifty Hyborian Age map. She had some extra copies from Howard Days 2014 and sent some to the two of us via John O’Neill.
I’ve come down with an odd recurring fever. I’ll be perfectly miserable for hours, then it will break, and I’ll think I’m on the mend… only to have the damned thing come back. It’s really messing with my ability to get writing and house work finished. Also it’s uncomfortable.
The one bright spot is that I’ve finally been able to read the old Marvel Conan comics, written/adapted by Roy Thomas. The local library has a pretty complete collection. I never read these when I was a kid (no idea why) so I’m coming upon them very fresh, and it turns out that they’re really fun sword-and-sorcery comics.
I started reading with volume 6, which is when Roy Thomas himself writes that he felt like he really had a handle on what he was doing.
First, why Conan and the Emerald Lotus is my favorite Conan pastiche, with the possible exception of Conan and the Living Plague.
Second, an overview of the better Conan pastiches, filtered through my own sensibilities.
Howard: While I understand it’s a different kind of story for Conan, and that it’s interesting to look at through the lens of understanding how Howard’s writing developed, I’m evaluating each of these tales with a fairly simple agenda foremost: Do I enjoy them as stories, and do they achieve what they’re designed to do?
Bill Ward and I are working our way through the Del Rey Conan collection The Coming of Conan. This week we’re discussing “The Frost-Giant’s Daughter.” We hope you’ll join in!
Howard: Those first two paragraphs are so well written I had to stop and re-read them. Here, again, is proof of Robert E. Howard’s incredible descriptive powers. Some of that talent seems to have been innate with him, but I can’t help thinking he’s even better than he could have been because he spent so much time working with poetry, where every word counts even more than in prose. Well, actually, every word in prose should count, but too often prose writers don’t write that way. Howard at his finest always remembers this.
Howard: Look at the story’s opening quote. That’s practically the gold standard of quotes from imaginary historical sources. That fabulous “Know, O Prince” and all that follows has been imitated but rarely, if ever, equalled. This, fellow fantasy fans, is the way it’s done. Admittedly, there are a few phrases in the middle of the paragraph that are less inspired. I’m looking at “Zingara with its chivalry, Koth that bordered on the pastoral lands of Shem.” Most of the rest of the quote paints lovely word pictures, but those phrases don’t remotely approach the poetic majesty of the rest — what does Zingara look like? What does Koth look like? But the rest is lovely, and the quality picks right back up with “dreaming west” and powers on to that fantastic finish, “Hither came Conan…”