The Bloody Crown of Conan by Robert E. Howard
Nobody can touch Robert E. Howard when he was at the top-of-his-game. The three stories in The Bloody Crown of Conan are not only some of his best, they are some of his best Conan stories and Conan was his greatest creation. Howard was the father of Sword & Sorcery and next only to J.R.R. Tolkien in being the largest influence of fantasy today. His stories have stark imagery that’s nothing short of amazing. The action moves at break-neck speed, and despite that they were written as pure adventure “pulps,” there’s harsh reality that lying just beneath the surface.
In “The People of the Black Circle”, a princess and her kingdom are the target of an elite group of evil sorcerers, the Black Circle. Only Conan, the chief of the outlaws ranging her land, can save her.
In “The Hour of the Dragon,” King Conan is struck down by a resurrected wizard from an ancient evil kingdom. Now Conan must take up a long, dangerous quest to retrieve a relic of great power; the undead wizard’s weakness, and rebuild his armies in order to regain his throne and achieve his revenge.
“A Witch Shall Be Born” is the tale of a evil and beautiful witch, who enslaves her twin sister, the queen of the border-city Khauran and allows merciless Shemite mercenaries reign of the kingdom. However, when they nail the captain of the guard, Conan, to a cross in the desert, they make the mistake of not confirming his death.
Del Rey publishing has done an excellent job putting these, The Fully Illustrated Library of Robert E. Howard, books together. They are chockfull of commentaries, letters and notes that can be appreciated by die-hard Howard fans and newcomers alike. Gary Gianni’s artwork for Bloody Crown compliments the story perfectly, as do the artists in the other books. The beautiful illustrations lend a classical feel that’s well-worthy of the master that Robert E. Howard was.
The Conan Chronicles — (1990-2005) Publisher: “Between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities… there was an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars… Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand… to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.” Conan is one of the greatest fictional heroes ever created–a swordsman who cuts a swath across the lands of the Hyborian Age, facing powerful sorcerers, deadly creatures, and ruthless armies of thieves and reavers. Collected in this volume, profusely illustrated by artist Mark Schultz, are Howard’s first thirteen Conan stories, appearing in their original versions — in some cases for the first time in more than seventy years — and in the order Howard wrote them. Along with classics of dark fantasy like “The Tower of the Elephant” and swashbuckling adventure like “Queen of the Black Coast,” The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian contains a wealth of material never before published in the United States, including the first submitted draft of Conan’s debut, “Phoenix on the Sword,” Howard’s synopses for “The Scarlet Citadel” and “Black Colossus,” and a map of Conan’s world drawn by the author himself. Here are timeless tales featuring Conan the raw and dangerous youth, Conan the daring thief, Conan the swashbuckling pirate, and Conan the commander of armies. Here, too, is an unparalleled glimpse into the mind of a genius whose bold storytelling style has been imitated by many, yet equaled by none.