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Reader’s Den, Biblio File

Reader's Den: The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian, Part 2

Last week we introduced you, our gentle readers, to the sullen, rough barbarian Conan. It is a name that conjures a multitude of images. There is the campy cult classic film starring a young Arnold Schwarzenegger in the titular role. You have Conan as imagined by various comic illustrators. Even the acclaimed modern fantasy author Robert Jordan put his own spin on the legendary barbarian. 

Conan: Bloody fantasy before George Martin made it cool.

This brings up the point of today's Reader's Den. How has Robert E. Howard's creation influenced modern fantasy writing? Most here will know Robert Jordan as the creator of the epic fantasy cycle, The Wheel of Time. Then you get into fantasy author Brandon Sanderson who finished Jordan's work after that author's premature passing. Having read much of Sanderson's epic fantasy to date, I do detect some hints of Howard's influence, especially in his Mistborn novels.

This does not even account for the many, many tales of sword and sorcery that have been written by the likes of Fritz Leiber and Michael Moorcock in the decades since Howard's passing. Even today's  modern grimdark fantasists, whether they realize it or not, can trace roots to Howard's savage hillman.

Why has Conan's influence been so enduring? What is it that speaks to readers and writers even decades later? Is it the Cimmerian's no-nonsense approach to seizing power? His willingness to cut down anything in his path while still displaying a certain cunning that sees him through harrowing adventure after adventure? Only you can decide, dear readers. Next week, we will recommend some titles for folks jonesing for more bloody, gutsy swords and sorcery.


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I liked reading the post. I did not know a thing about Conan except what I read in the Marvel comics years and years ago. I learned a lot.

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