Friday, April 24, 2015

Forgotten Books: CONAN THE INVINCIBLE by Robert Jordan (1982)

When this book came out back in 1982, I remember thinking it was pretty dang good. The business of writing novel-length Conan pastiches was still fairly new (there had been fewer than ten of them, I believe), and I had read them all. This one struck me as the best yet. 

Well, it's been sitting on my bookshelf ever since, tempting me to read it again, and I finally gave in. And what do you know? It's still a dang good read. 

Conan the Invincible was the first in the Tor Conan series - they eventually published more than forty books - and the first of six by Robert Jordan. (Yeah, I know he also wrote the novelization of Conan the Destroyer, but I don't put that in the same class.) It's a rousing good adventure story, complete with a butt-kicking female warrior, rival wizards and an eldritch god of the Lovecraft school. And along the way, Conan makes a friend who become a sidekick in the following book, Conan the Defender.

Jordan's Conan is not quite the same as Howard's, of course. No one's is. The hero of this book is a bit more thoughtful and a shade less savage, but that's okay. Every novelist who tackled Conan - and there were more than a dozen of them - brought something new to the character, and helped keep him fresh. Their storytelling skills and styles varied widely, but the character (like that of Sherlock Holmes) is compelling enough that I can turn off the critical side of my brain and just enjoy the ride.

I enjoyed Jordan's books enough to follow him into his Wheel of Time series, but somewhere around book 6 or 8 I caught up and had to wait too long for the next book - a problem I encountered again with Game of Thrones.

That's a problem I won't have with Conan. All the books are sitting right waiting for me.


George said...

I have all of Robert Jordan's CONAN pastiches. I enjoyed reading them all.

Rick Robinson said...

I think I have some of those around here, someplace or other.

Todd Mason said...

I liked Karl Wagner's shot at it...haven't given to many others a chance.

Evan Lewis said...

I'm now reading Conan the Defender, also a dang good book. I'll have to give Wagner's book another try, too.