Today we close the books on The Summer of Conan. You can find all of my Conan posts here. Over the course of three months, I read every Conan story Robert E. Howard wrote, watched all three Conan movies, and read twelve Conan pastiches. I did not, unfortunately, get to any of the Conan comics. Reading Robert E. Howard’s original work was a revelation. I would much rather go back and read Howard’s other work than dive back into the Conan pastiches, though I eventually will. To that end, and with the Halloween season approaching with the end of summer, I am next turning to The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard.
Leonard Carpenter wrote the most Conan pastiches of any of the Tor authors. I’ve only read one of his eleven Conan novels. Carpenter didn’t write many other novels, but he did write poetry, and what looks like a lot of short fiction.
Carpenter introduces Conan in Conan the Hero rising from slimy water into a steaming jungle, skin striped with “muddy tones of lampblack and umber.” If that sounds kind of badass and kind of like Rambo, well, yeah. Conan the Hero is a good book, but it suffers from being as influenced by the 1980s American drug epidemic, the Soviet-Afghan War, and, most of all, Vietnam as by Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories.