Sunday, January 15, 2012
100 Books #5 - Robert E. Howard's THE COMING OF CONAN THE CIMMERIAN
I wonder if Robert E. Howard -- or his most famous creation, the barbarian/mercenary/pirate king Conan -- has a lot of fans who are herpetologists, for snakes, giant or otherwise, get a really bad rap in this collection of the first several Conan stories. I mean, if it had been Conan versus the beetles or the giant fur-bearing gold-mining ants*, I might have been a little miffed.
But giant snakes are far from our hero's only problem, are they, this figure who spawned an entire genre (which I gleefully celebrate with my friends over at Shouty Men in Shiny Armour). Sorcerors, rival kings (when he's a king), Great Old Ones, rival pirates (when he's a pirate), sea monsters, more sorcerors... Even enumerating them is exhausting. But I am not a mighty-thewed muscle-man. Of superhuman cunning and resourcefulness. With a sword.
Interestingly, though, this book and my second of the year have had the lingering effect of making me want to try to become one. At least as much of one as a chick on the other side of 40 can be. Pass the kettle-bell. Conan, at least, prefers self-rescuing princesses who make the first move.
*Which it just as easily could have been. I can't imagine Howard having neglected to read his Herodotus. He was one erudite motherfolklore.