The Bloody Crown of Conan is the second of Del Rey’s three-volume collection of Robert E. Howard’s Conan yarns. Including Howard’s only Conan novel, it has the fewest stories of any volume in the collection. The Bloody Crown of Conan is also heavily illustrated, this time by Gary Gianni. Gianni did excellent work for George R.R. Martin’s A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms collection. I don’t like his Conan artwork quite as much (the art in my paperback copy is black and white). There is a foreword by Gianni, an introduction by Howard scholar and series editor Rusty Burke, several synopses, drafts, and notes, and the second part of editor Patrice Louinet’s long essay on the Genesis of the Hyborian Age.
The stories in this volume are longer than those in the first volume. Conan is well served by stories running more in the novelette range. The novel, The Hour of the Dragon, can’t help but feel a bit conventional, even with its breakneck pace. The other two stories, The People of the Black Circle and A Witch Shall Be Born, are two of my favorite of all the Conan stories. This volume might be a better introduction to Conan than The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian.
Hank Williams famously said, “You got to have smelt a lot of mule manure before you can sing like a hillbilly.” Conan’s version is “It takes oppression and hardship to stiffen men’s guts and put the fire of hell into their thews.”
Alex and Marcus are officers working the Graveyard Shift in the Miami-Dade Police Department Nocturn Affairs Division. “Nocturn” being the PC term for vampire after the reveal. They’re well qualified for the job. Marcus is an “Ancient,” a vampire so old he served as a governor in the Roman Empire. Alex is Menkaure, former pharaoh and resurrected mummy. After a slow start, things heat up as Alex and Marcus close in on the source of the spiked artificial blood appearing throughout the city, and the mummy and Haspil’s twist on werewolves helps make up for vampires that stick to well-trodden ground.
Welcome back to my first read of the Dark Tower series! Today I finish up The Drawing of the Three with The Pusher.
The Dark Tower movie opens in theaters on August 4th. This leaves me with a decision to make. I will post a review of the movie that Monday, August 7th. I can try to pound through book 3, The Wastelands in two weeks, take a break for the movie, or put the first read on hold until after the movie comes out. Thoughts?
[Update: I decided to start writing Game of Thrones recap posts, so the Dark Tower Big Read is on hiatus at least until the end of season 7 of Game of Thrones. I will still write a review of the Dark Tower movie.]
Before The Pusher, we get another shuffle (re-shuffle). Roland is in a bad way. Odetta is back, but they have to get the three of them to the third door so Roland can get more antibiotics, and two of them aren’t in walking shape.
Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.
The first volume of Del Rey’s three-volume collection of Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories is my introduction to Howard and almost my introduction to Conan. The Del Rey editions collect the stories in the order that Howard wrote them rather than by publication date or plot chronology. The first book includes a foreword by Mark Schultz and an introduction by Patrice Louinet. Both are excellent, neither denigrating the source material. Louinet is the editor, and Schultz contributed extensive illustrations (I understand these are missing from the Kindle version). He is no Frazetta—no one is—but I like Schutlz’s artwork a lot, and I find it supplanting Frazetta and the Ah-nold movies in how I picture Conan and his world. They do tend to be a little spoilery. The first volume also includes drafts, synopsizes, and, most notably, Robert E. Howard’s fictional history of the Hyborian Age.
The stories in this volume are shorter than the stories in the other two volumes. I’m not going to review each, or even the volumes as a whole, really. You’ve probably read the Howard stories and Jeffro’s Retrospective post (if you haven’t, stop reading this and do both). I will save the reviews for the pastiches, but I do have plenty to say about Howard’s stories. I will have a whole lot to say about Conan before it is all said and done.
Iron Man? Iron Man is a damn villain. The bad guy in Spider-Man: Homecoming only broke bad after Stark used his political influence to screw him out of a city contract. Peter Parker is basically motivated by the fact that Stark trusts him to fight the good guys but not to fight the bad guys. Or just doesn’t care. I would say he delegated overseeing Spider-Man to an incompetent underling, but there is no indication he gave any actual direction to do any actual oversight. Stark used Spider-Man and then tried to forget about him. Oh, and that Reason You Suck speak he gives Parker two-thirds of the way through the movie? All bull. He even tries to pat himself on the back for recruiting a 14-year-old to fight Captain America!
Now that I have that off my chest, Spider-Man: Homecoming is a very good superhero movie, a damn fine high school movie, and, uh, not quite exactly a Spider-Man movie.
I am very pleased to announce my very first guest post here at Every Day Should Be Tuesday: Dragon-Breath Cold by Rachel Dunne, author of In the Shadow of the Gods and The Bones of the Earth.
Interested in submitting a guest post to Every Day Should Be Tuesday? Let me know!
I’ve lived all my life in Wisconsin, except for the few years I spent at college in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, so I’ve had more than enough time to make a friend of winter.
I called it “dragon-breath cold” when I was younger: the kind of cold that turns every word you say into a cloud in front of your face (or lets you run around growling and breathing smoke threateningly at the family dog). I used to think the breath-clouds were shaped like words, that even if I couldn’t see the speaker’s mouth, I could read their words before they dissipated into the air.
Welcome back to my first read of the Dark Tower series after a one-week hiatus for Independence Day, the original Brexit. This week I cover The Lady of Shadows from The Drawing of the Three.
Before we get to The Lady of Shadows, there is a “shuffle.” Roland and Eddie Dean are back in the world of the Dark Tower (the Mid-World? All-World?), but the antibiotics haven’t started working yet. And they have to get to the next door. They do, but when they get there, Eddie Dean demands that Roland take him with him, or he will kill Roland’s body while he is on the other side.