Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Episode 03 - The Tower of the Elephant (Or, Sayonara Yara! An Elephant Alien Demon God Man Never Forgets!)

Episode three time! This week, we discuss the classic Conan the Cimmerian tale "The Tower of the Elephant"! (Download mp3 here!) You can read the story on Wikisource here.

The awesome cover for Savage Sword of Conan #24, as done by Earl Norem! This issue includes one of Marvel's multiple "Tower of the Elephant" adaptations.

Here are some resources for this week's tale!

1. Gary Romeo's essay on REHUPA.

2. The online / open-source text-based computer game.

3. General comments about TotE in relation to other contemporary stories (Tolkien, Dunsany, etc).

4. Dungeons and Dragons module for TotE.

5. Bandcamp Page for The Tower of the Elephant, a stoner rock band. Check 'em out, and send us other Robert E. Howard inspired music!

6. Here's a nice Comics Alliance article about Barry Windsor Smith, artist from some of Marvel's fine Conan adaptations! His interpretation of Conan is unique. Let us know who you think drew the best Conan!

In two weeks, join us for the next thrilling Conan the Cimmerian adventure, Black Colossus!
(Read it on Wikisource.)

"Sudden Defeat" by Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Be sure to drop us a line! Leave comments or send us an email!

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See you in a couple weeks!


  1. Hey alright, liking the podcast although I haven't heard episode 3 yet but I bet it will be fantastic! Speaking of which! Do check out ArnoCorps (as in ArnoCore) The Greatest Band of All Time. They just released an EP called "The Fantastic EP". That's right!

    They are pioneers of Action-Adventure HardCore Rock n Roll. Let ArnoCorps tell you of the days of High Adventure! The EP is full of Conan songs including Crom, King Conan, Conan the Destroyer, and more! check out for more info.

    Grizzled Veteran

  2. Thanks for the heads-up, Grizzled Vet!!! This looks like loads of fun. AND ROCK!

    We'll definitely need to include something off the new EP when we're putting together a show about Conan-inspired music!!!

    1. That would be Fantastic.

      Will any of you be attending NecronomiCon this week?

      I'll be at the Con and will also be running a couple of sessions of a Cthulhu/Conan inspired game.

      I'm going to check out the HP Lovecraft Bust unveiling at the Public Library and I'm attending the HP Podcraft Live Show. Should be a fun weekend! GO!!!

  3. Very enjoyable podcast.

    The Tower of the Elephant is one my top three favorite Conan stories.

    I think that Taurus was little dubious. Not a evil fellow but I doubt that he had any intentions of sharing the fame this theft would bring him. I think when he encountered Conan he only had one play and he took Conan with him. Other choices would have either cost him his life or ruined the theft, possibly for good.

  4. Thanks for the insightful comments, ripa! We loved The Tower of the Elephant as well, if that weren't clear from our constant gushing over it!

    Josh definitely also thought Taurus was up to something fishy. We edited out a blurb about Taurus potentially heralding the dawn of the jovial overweight character whose outer appearance belies their true abilities. We can see this most notably in the brilliant Matt Fraction/Ed Brubaker comic series The Immortal Iron Fist with Fat Cobra, but we mentioned others as well! If I can think of them, I'll post them here!

  5. Good job, guys. This is among the best of the Conan stories, in my opinion. I appreciate what y'all are trying to do. It's nice to see something that treats Howard's work respectfully and intelligently. The fantasy genre owes a lot to him, and his writing, though verging on purple at times, makes every sentence a joy to read.

    I like what you guys say about Taurus. I'd be among the ones who'd have loved to see a Taurus story, but I think the mystery is a lot of his appeal. He's a great character. As far as his motives go, it's true it's all up in the air. Can you trust him, can you not? It really makes him the perfect companion for someone like Conan.

    Looking forward to seeing the next installment, cheers.

    1. Thanks, Rev! We agree, Howard is an underappreciated cornerstone of fantasy and horror literature. His writing has this energy that makes the words seem to leap from the page and definitely keeps us riveted!

      Thanks for posting, and for following us on Twitter! Keep those comments coming, we want to know what you think about the rest of the stories!

  6. Also: You mention Tolkien during the discussion about the spider. L. Sprague de Camp said, "We sat in the garage for a couple of hours, smoking pipes, drinking beer, and talking about a variety of things. Practically anything in English literature, from Beowulf down, Tolkien had read and could talk intelligently about. He indicated that he 'rather liked' Howard's Conan stories."

    1. How great would it have been to have talked literature with Tolkien over a beer? de Camp too, for that matter! Or REH! What author would you most like to have met if you could? Doesn't have to be any of these guys, but it can be!

    2. Honestly I'd just like to get Howard and Lovecraft in a room together and listen in.

    3. I imagine that Howard's interest in building a coherent fictional world, a "subcreation" to use Tolkien's term, must have piqued the scholar's interest. Tolkien is on record as having disliked his friend C. S. Lewis's approach to Narnia as being slapdash, an agglomeration of elements that didn't fit well together (e.g. Greek fauns and the northern European Father Christmas in the same story.) Howard seems to have put more thought into his Universe from the start.

  7. Yag-kosha says "the Atlanteans [sank] into apedom again" when recounting the history of humanity he watched unfold. That sounds like the ape-man from "Rogues in the House". hich would mean Thak wasn't a missing link but a devolved human

  8. Just listened to this podcast today, having read the story yesterday (yes, I am _well_ behind), and I've thought quite a bit about whether this is a better story than "The Scarlet Citadel". I wonder what would have happened if I'd read the stories in reverse order. "The Scarlet Citadel" was what really woke me up and made me think, "Damn, this R. E. Howard guy can really write." "The Tower of the Elephant" on the other hand seemed, like "The Phoenix on the Sword", to depend a bit too much on unlikely coincidences and great slabs of exposition, both of which tendencies are found in "The Scarlet Citadel" but handled more deftly. On the other hand I'm inclined to agree with the opinion voiced in the podcast that maybe this story has more interesting ideas for the reader to chew on. For one thing it's fascinating to see, after two stories in which Conan is seasoned and self-assured, a Conan who is young and a bit out of his depth--not stupid, but not very thoughtful either.

    Yag-Kosha's story of where he's from is so incredibly reminiscent of the story of the "Old Ones" from "At the Mountains of Madness" but that story was published three years after "The Tower of the Elephant". Maybe Lovecraft had already communicated some of his ideas to Howard? I see that they started corresponding in 1930 so the timing is plausible. It occurs to me that a slightly similar idea is found in "The Whisperer in Darkness" so maybe that was the inspiration. In any case, the most striking thing about Yag-Kosha in "The Tower of the Elephant" is that, while he's definitely Lovecraftian, he's handled with a depth of feeling that Lovecraft never really showed. Even when Dyer in "At the Mountains of Madness" laments the fate of the Old Ones and (in one of Lovecraft's most moving passages) exclaims, "Scientists to the last--what had they done that we would not have done in their place?" there is a dispassionate, detached tone to Dyer's sympathy. It is the reasoned sympathy of the intellectual. Conan's response to Yag-Kosha is far more emotional.

  9. I've been listening to your podcast and just finished the Mark Finn book. I wish also that the Lovecraft-Howard letters (A Means to Freedom) was more readily available. Little write up on them, on the offchance you hadn't heard.