Conan the Liberator
by L. Sprague De Camp, Lin Carter
List Price: $24.95
Hardcover - 256 pages (June 2002)
Forge; ISBN: 0765300702; 1st Tor ed edition (June 2002)
Review by Bruce Wallace
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When I first picked up Tor's reissue of Conan
the Liberator it was like meeting an old friend again.
I hadn't read Conan since high school, and this
treatment of Robert E. Howard's famous barbarian king by L. Sprague
de Camp and Lin Carter brought back some fond
memories of enjoying hours of uncomplicated yet engaging tales of sword
The series is set on earth in the legendary if fictional Hyborian age,
which occurred sometime between the sinking of Atlantis and the
beginning of recorded history. The story told in this volume primarily
takes place in the land of Aquilonia, which is roughly equivalent
geographically to medieval France. In this age magic was a fact of life
and Gods and Demons were aplenty. Great deeds and even greater acts of
treachery were the order of the day. This book contains its fair share
Conan the Liberator picks up where
"The Treasure of Tranicos"
leaves off. Conan has recently been rescued from an island
by the would-be leaders of a plot to oust the evil and corrupt King Numedides and is offered a chance to join with them. Conan quickly
agrees to their suggestion that he lead their armies in this fight.
Conan loves a good fight to begin with and a chance for plunder and a
possible king-ship are all the reasons he needs.
The tone of Conan the Liberator is set in the opening chapter
when we meet King Numedides and his court Sorcerer Thulandra Thu as they
thoughtfully engage in their mutual hobbies of torture, debauchery and
the search for immortality. The amazing thing is how quickly the reader
is shown with relatively simple prose and an economy of words just how
bad the situation in the land of Aquilonia is for noble and poor alike.
As the chapter title, an ancient Aquilonian saying, suggests "Even the
bravest cower when madness wears the crown." By the end of the chapter
we see that the King is indeed mad, his court sorcerer is steeped in
evil and that there is good reason to for all to cower.
The next few chapters introduce us to Conan and his war leaders. Count
Trocero of Poitan and Prospero, a former Aquilonian general, are the
refined noblemen that Conan is not. He is first and foremost a barbarian
with tremendous physical strength and a volcanic temper. What separates
him from the pack of common scoundrels are his quick wits and barbarian
code of honor. He is a fighter and war leader without match who is as
fiercely loyal to his men as they are to him.
After these first few chapters in which the stage upon which the story
is played out is set, book begins to unfold at breathtaking speed. We
are immediately plunged into a whirlwind of action, intrigue and magic.
This is a tale not meant for the faint of heart, but well worth the time
for any armchair adventurer with a love of sword and sorcery. Conan, old
friend, welcome back.