I’m a bit behind schedule this month when it came to my book review. The truth is I had this idea about doing a theme for the month of October, focused on Halloween and supernatural phenomenon in writing. The problem is, the idea came after finishing the supernatural mystery book that was originally intended to be reviewed this month! So I decided to push back the review for that book to October, and had to find a replacement book for September.
That is when I came across Conan The Rogue. I had originally read this book back in high school, but forgot most of what transpired in it. The book was no longer in my possession, as it was donated to the free library at my campsite. However, as luck would have it, the book was still there, so I had the opportunity to read through it once again.
For those of you unfamiliar with Conan, he is a fictional character who is set in a fantasy, “sword-and-sorcery” setting known as the Hyborian Age (a period in earth’s history between the fall of Atlantis and the rise of ancient civilizations). Conan is mainly referred to as a barbarian, but over the years he has also been known under many other names. At his core, Conan is a warrior who fights for his own egotistical goals (money and survival), but will assist others if it fits his needs. The character itself was originally created by writer Robert E. Howard in 1932, and has since appeared in everything from books, movies, television shows and video games.
Conan the Rogue is a fantasy novel written by John Maddox Roberts, and was originally published by Tor Books in November 1991. The story begins with Conan out of luck, having lost all of his belongings while gambling, except for his sword. His fortune soon changes, as the barbarian gets hired by a strange, flamboyant man to retrieve a mysterious artefact reputed to have vast magical power. The search takes Conan to Sicas, a once rich city thanks to its silver mines, now in the midst of a power struggle between numerous contenders, most notably the king's corrupt reeve, five different gangs and a religious cult. There are various intrigues and betrayals going on within Sicas, but with careful manipulation, Conan manages to raise the tension until tempers finally boil over, resulting in a city wide brawl. I will skip the details for those interested in reading the book.
Conan the Rogue
Back of the Book:
“Everyone in the corrupt city of Sicas wants the priceless treasure Conan of Cimmeria has come there to find. Beautiful women who offer smiles, kisses--and maybe a knife in the back. A priest who may be closer to his goddess than he thinks. Noble lords, and the bosses of criminal gangs, and a fop whose perfumed kerchief may hide poison. All are willing to kill for the artifact, but none realize the horror in can unleash, a hellish menace that only one man can face…”
Link to wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conan_the_Rogue
What I learned:
- Dastardly Deeds: The author truly succeeded in making Conan appear to be a cunning mastermind as well as an experienced warrior. Manipulating all of the city’s factions against each other needed careful planning.
- Planning ahead: Noting what all gangs were doing at all times requires careful planning. In real life, people don’t just stand still and wait for you to be done with what you are doing before acting. While you are off to work, people do their own thing; sleep, chores, exercise or jobs. The clock doesn't stop for others because you don’t see them. The author puts an emphasis on this fact by having Conan constantly keep tabs on the many players taking part in this story. It helps explain who is where, doing what. Reading Conan the Rogue made me realise I needed to apply this to my own story by creating a checklist of who is where during what event. This helps answer questions that may hurt the overall consistency of the story.
- Apples to Oranges: I was originally worried that reading a book about Conan so soon after reading Kaz the minotaur would give me a barbarian overdose! It turns out, the two are very different, despite being the same “archetype”. Kaz was more of your typical, muscle bound Barbarian, whereas Conan, though he had good intentions, was a double-crossing, manipulative scoundrel.
- Info dump: Though the story takes place in the city of Sicas, there is a lot of history to predates the actual tale. This somewhat superfluous information appears in large chunks on some occasions, forcing the reader to catch up on the backstory in order to understand the current story. A good example of this is when Casperus takes 3 full pages to explain the origin of the scorpion idle. This has made me realise that I need to parcel my backstory in small manageable bites, and not take the reader out of the main story while doing so.
For those interested in learning more about the author, John Maddox Roberts, please check out the following websites here:
For those interested in learning more about the creator of Conan the Barbarian, Robert E. Howard, please check out the following websites here:
The front cover art for Conan the Rogue was done by artist, Ken Kelly. Follow the link to view their wiki page.
In closing, I would like to thank my wife Linda and our family for the tremendous amount of encouragement in this endeavor.
Until next time!