Friday, October 19, 2018

Forgotten Books: CONAN THE MAGNIFICENT by Robert Jordan (1984)

Every time I finish one of Robert Jordan's Conan books, I'm eager to start another. In fact, it's hard not to, because if I try reading something different I have a tough time getting into it. 

Is that a good thing or a bad thing? A little of both, I suppose. Good for Jordan (or his estate), but bad for every other author, living or dead.

I read all six Jordan books (plus his adaptation of the Conan the Destroyer flick) as they first came out, and this is my second trip through. And they're still damn good.

This one surprised me a bit because it jumps out of the chronology established in the first three entries, Conan the Invincible (HERE), Conan the Defender (HERE) and Conan the Unconquered, and returns to his day's as a thief in Shadizar - before Invincible

Jumping around to different points in Conan's life is a time-honored practice, of course, started by REH himself, but I was expecting continuity and didn't get it. 

Anyway, it's all very fine, with two minor quibbles. First, Conan is described as being young, but doesn't act young. He's every bit as clever and world-wise as he is in anyone else's 
pastiches taking place later in his career, and far more thoughtful than the teenage barbarian of "The Tower of the Elephant," set not long before.

My other quibble is the similarity to Jordan's first Conan book, Invincible. Like that one, Magnficient proceeds from Shadizar to the desert, where our hero falls in with a band led by a proud and beauteous female warrior who can't resist him but hates herself for it. In both cases, despite restistance from her loyal followers, Conan - due to his superior mind and fighting ability - assumes defacto leadership of the bands. In both cases, too, a sorceror with a dastardly plan is tracking them from afar. 

But there are plenty of differences as well, and it's still a damn good read. 

I have two more Jordan's (plus the movie adaptation) awaiting me, after which I'll have to decide if I'm ready for another run at The Wheel of Time series. I read the first four or five way back when, but had to wait so long for the next one that I never went back, and swore off reading fantasy series until all the books were written. (Alas, I broke that oath with the Game of Thrones books, and got caught in the same trap.) Anyway, the series is now complete, but comprises fourteen volumes and a prequel. Do I really want to commit to fifteen big fat fantasy novels, with everything else I have on my plate? Woe is me. I just don't know.


George said...

The CONAN pastiches were uneven in quality, but the Robert Jordan volumes were entertaining. I need to dig one out and reread it!

Evan Lewis said...

I'd call that a swell idea, George.