The Conquering Sword of Conan by Robert E. Howard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I knew I had to finish my way through Howard's original Conan stories, (not to be mistaken with any of the future knock-offs in his name, nor mistaken for the comic book OR the ****ing movies, cartoons, or remakes.)
The fact is, Howard, who committed suicide when he was only 30 years old, way back in the mid-30s, has become a legend. His writing is superb despite the number of encroaching racist elements that were so obvious and universal of the time. The descriptions are something quite awesome, on par and with the same kind of energy as any of our modern fantasies, the ones we label epic fantasy, the ones that come in huge tomes with grimdark tones.
Indeed, it is the imaginative feast that comes out of Robert E. Howard's tales, overflowing with real history stirred together into an immense, barbaric soup, that STILL continues to spark our imaginations even today.
Of course, it's not the uber-manly Arnold that is displayed in these pages. I see something more of an Ayn Rand hero or a Heinlein can-do man that spurns all conventions to follow the deepest spirit of Freedom. Freedom from expectation, freedom from custom, freedom from accountability.
This CAN be a noble ideal. It can also be turned utterly dark and nasty. And when Conan comes up against wizards and witches who are the epitome of the other side of this coin, we're never really given a choice in whom we ought to root for. Serial murderers for self-aggrandizement ARE fundamentally different from raids, conquests, and plunders.
But at least Conan was never a rapist. So it's all okay, right? Nevermind.
I do have one other thing to say, however. I re-watched the original Conan with Arnold and it really set my stomach on edge. It was NOT the real Conan. The real Conan might not have been educated, but he was smart and cunning and lived by values of strength and freedom, and wherever whim and entertainment took him. He never tried to hold on to anything. He was never the idiot oaf of the movie.
If America was supposed to be following a grand idealized freedom, enraptured by the glorious idea of Conan, the American hero, then what we got, almost a hundred years later, was an idiotic ignorant oaf with a beer gut, spouting racial slurs and demanding his entitlements while encouraging the rest of the uneducated hoard to loot their own homes, burn it down, and then congratulate themselves on being the freest society in the world.
Maybe they ought to read the original Conan and see how he'd treat THEM.
View all my reviews