Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Episode 13: The Devil in Iron (or, Khosatral Khel's Big Day Out!)

"Suddenly the man rose and towered above him, menace in his every aspect. There was no room in the fisherman's dull brain for fear, at least for such fear as might grip a man who has just seen the fundamental laws of nature defied. As the great hands fell to his shoulders, he drew his saw-edged knife and struck upward with the same motion. The blade splintered against the stranger's corded belly as against a steel column, and then the fisherman's thick neck broke like a rotten twig in the giant hands."
Weird Tales cover by Margaret Brundage
Happy New Year, everyone! We hope your 2014 is off to a great start! We have a new episode to share with you. Journey back with us to the ancient Hyborean world, to an age undreamed of. Hear of a time in Conan the Cimmerian's life when he led the Vilayet kozaks in raiding the roads and villages of coastal Khawarizm. Witness the revival of the ancient and deadly Khosatral Khel. Our story this week is The Devil in Iron, originally published in the August 1934 issue of Weird Tales (download mp3 here). This is another "Conan on an island" adventure, in the vein of Iron Shadows and Pool of the Black One. You can read it on WikiSource!

Check out The HP Lovecraft Literary Podcast's discussion on Lovecraft's short story Dagon. If you haven't read that story, check it out here. It's short and pretty excellent!

You know we love comic art! Here's a couple cool pieces. First, Conan's struggle against the giant snake by John Buscema and inked by Alfredo Ancala. 

Second, check out the cover of Savage Sword of Conan #15 featuring Khosatral Khel! 

We mention that we'll be doing the comics episode soon, with our friend Justin Stewart as a guest host. Justin is an excellent artist and inker, and we look forward to hearing about his insight into the sequential art creative process and talking about our favorite Conan comics! Check out his website and his profile on L.O.I. Studios to get a sense of his style! 

Justin also co-hosts a podcast! If you're looking for a show that covers comics, games, movies, and general geeky topics, check out our friends Justin and Tressa and the rest of the Beaucoup Pop crew! 

Our next tale will be The People of the Black Circle (read it on WikiSource or get an e-book copy on Project Gutenberg - but we suggest reading it in The Bloody Crown of Conan from Del Rey, and while you're at it, treat yourself to The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian and The Conquering Sword of Conan, also from Del Rey).

But before then, get ready for the metal! For next time, Luke is putting together a short playlist of Conan-inspired heavy metal that will rock your faces off! If you're a fan of the metal genre, maybe this will introduce you to some new bands to check out! If you're not a metal fan, maybe this episode will change your mind! 

Thanks everyone! Happy listening, and Happy New Year! 

Questions? Comments? Curses? Email us! (thecromcast at gmail dot com)

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

Ending theme: "Anvil of Crom" arranged by YouTube user Xavier Renou and found here. Arrangement of  "Anvil of Crom" by Basil Poledouris, from the Conan the Barbarian: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. Original Score: (c) 1982 Basil Poledouris; Original Album: (c) 2010 Prometheus Records. Used without permission.


  1. Happy New Year!

    Good episode!

    There seems to be something strange with the plot in this story. I haven't read this in a while but I think it says that Jehungir is surprised to see Octavia in Xapur. That would indicate that maybe the initial plot was dropped for some reason.

    Is the People of the Black Circle episode going to be long? It is very good story and one of the longest Conan stories.

    It sounds like next episode is gonna be metal!

  2. Finally got round to listening to the LibriVox reading of this and, yeah, I’ll agree with your criticism that something feels missing from the story. It lacks a strong protagonist and narrative drive. It’s almost trying to be too mysterious for its own good, so much so that the reader ends up being left in the dark to the detriment of their interest. I like the idea of the steps leading up (or down, depending on your point of view) the cliffs though, which reminded me of the hidden stairs that lead to Shelob’s lair in Lord of the Rings, but that’s about all I enjoyed really. Shame. Good writing style from Bob, as always, just the story construction is pretty shallow. Oh well.