Robert Jordan is a highly respected and very successful author. His Wheel of Time fantasy series is one of the best in terms of sales in the business. I had personally never read one of his works until I picked up Conan the Destroyer. I was not disappointed; it is a very entertaining book and one that should satisfy most Conan fans.
Of course Conan the Barbarian is the creation of the magnificent pulp author Robert E Howard. Howard committed suicide in 1936 , thus it has been left to other writers to continue his legacy. This particular novel is based on the screenplay for the movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. The screenplay was written by Roy Thomas, one of the best script writers for years at Marvel comics.
In this tale Conan is very young, a teenager in fact. He is making his living as a thief when a wicked princess named Taramis convinces him to undertake an extremely dangerous quest in search of two mystical devices. The story is to a degree a sequel of the first Conan movie in which our hero's girlfriend Valeria was killed. Conan feels terrible about this and against his better judgment agrees to help Taramis because the princess promises that with these powerful talismans she can bring Valeria back to life. Conan's personal wizard Akiro indicates this might in fact be possible on the basis it had been done once or twice before in history.
I was impressed by Jordan's handling of this story. He does a very good job portraying Conan as fearless, fierce, very intelligent, unwavering, loyal, roguish, intense, and I felt, very much the way Howard described the character. Another strength I noticed right away is Jordan's ability to paint very vivid, very sexy, and quite powerful female characters. There are no less than three of them in this novel. Taramis, her niece the beautiful mystic Jehnna, and Zula ...a feisty woman warrior. All three use their sex appeal to overcome naturally pathetic men...ha.
Conan has plenty of help as he enlists several of his pals along for the difficult trip. I laughed out loud when Akiro the wizard complained that one guy's snoring reminded him of an ox with a bad belly...then he put a spell on the offending fellow.
The character Jehnna plays a very key role in the story. Only she has the ability to point the way and actually obtain the magical horn and sacred jewel that will enable the slumbering god known as Dagoth to come back to life. He sleeps in Taramis' palace whilst the quest proceeds.
Things move at a very fast pace. Jordan gives us plenty of access to what Conan is thinking. I actually feel that Jordan's Conan has quite a bit more depth than many other depictions. Yet at the same time I feel Howard's vision is adhered to quite nicely. Also I should add that Jordan is very skilled at exploiting sexual tension. For a fantasy writer he is darn good at that for real.
There are some flaws, like perhaps a bit to much magic for a Conan tale, and supposedly mega powerful enemies fall rather quickly to the rampaging barbarian. The plot engine is somewhat standard (although very nicely executed). However, none of this stuff bothered me very much as i read on eagerly!
There was a genuinely scary monster at the end that Jordan painted so lifelike that I shuddered just a bit! He went down without putting up to much of a fight but his image was highly disturbing...for me at least. Whoa, what a nasty piece of work he was.
In summary I am certainly happy that I gave Jordan a shot and was quite pleased and thoroughly entertained. I have two more of his Conan novels that have been waiting patiently for a long time in my sagging bookcase and I suspect their wait is about at an end.
If you like Conan, don't pass on Conan the Destroyer...it will destroy you pathetic humans!!! SO SAYETH DAGOTH THE SLEEPING GOD!! There is a scene with the entirely oversexed Taramis and the sleeping god that is very gnarly. I also liked that Jordan included a big mean monkey in this novel as a nod to old Two Gun. (the name his friends gave Robert E Howard)
Hope you enjoy the book, it is a good one.
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