Conan the Cimmerian is on the same level of recognition and popularity as other important figures of literature from the early 20th Century such as Tarzan and Batman. Because of this, his original adventures and an immense amount of derivative works have permeated the pop culture landscape for several decades. Until earlier this week, I had never read any of the original Robert E. Howard Conan stories. Despite this fact, I’m pretty familiar with the character because I’ve seen both movies from the 80s starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and I’ve read about 30 or so issues of the Marvel comic Conan the Barbarian by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor Smith. I even reviewed a few of those issues in their Saga of Conan reprints. You can find them here and here.
Needless to say, I’ve always felt like a bit of phoney because I knew of the original Conan stories and I also knew how easily accessible they are, but I never took the time to read them. I say no more! No more of this foolery. I have a lovely eBook collecting all of Howard’s stories, novellas, and novel in a single edition. It was also dirt cheap ($4). I’ll be reviewing these at the rate of one or two stories per week for the next few weeks. I’m not sure if I’ll need a break or not at some point, but for now I’m enjoying myself immensely so I might be able to review them all in relatively quick succession. Here we go, with the first ever published Conan story.
“The Phoenix on the Sword” by Robert E. Howard, originally published in Weird Tales (Dec. 1932)