Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Episode 20: Shadows in Zamboula (or, Conan Lays the Totra-Smack Down!)

"Conan stood for a moment in the door, the glow of the bronze lamp behind him, looking down the road to where it vanished among the dense palms. Their leaves rustled together in the faint breeze; beyond them lay the naked desert. Far up the street, in the other direction, lights gleamed and the noises of the city came faintly to him. Here was only starlight, the whispering of the palm leaves, and beyond that low wall, the dust of the road and the deserted huts thrusting their flat roofs against the low stars. Somewhere beyond the palm groves a drum began..."

Our tale this time is "Shadows in Zamboula," first published in 1935 in Weird Tales magazine. Howard's original title was "The Man-Eaters of Zamboula." With all of its cannibals, snakes, and less than clothed damsels it was the cover story of course. You can read the whole thing here for free if you wish.

This will be a quick story for you to read and this is probably our shortest episode ever!

Savage Sword of Conan #14
Neal Adams helped to adapt this story for The Savage Sword of Conan. He's got a great style for the tale and drew the best scene with his usual aplomb.

Thanks to comic creator Victor Dandridge for his Ahnold impression to open the show, check out Victor's page or catch him at a comic convention this summer! Also, a shout out to author John Fultz for his kind voice mail. You too can have your voice broadcast across the pod-waves! Just leave us a message (859) 429-CROM! (that's 2766).

That's it for this time! Join us on the next exciting episode of The Cromcast as we clock in with King Conan for THE HOUR OF THE DRAGON!

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

1 comment:

  1. Who the devil are you?

    Good episode. I'm so glad that you survived the house of Aram Baksh and hopefully picked up some nice swords from the Sword-Makers' Bazaar.

    They eyed him curiously and suspiciously, for he was a man who stood out even in such a motley throng as crowded the winding streets of Zamboula.

    Conan is the stranger even among strangers. I have to say that I just love Zamboula as a setting. A city that changes hands between empires, the eastern flavor, caravans coming and going, there is money to be made, things to be bought; and the cosmopolitan nature with all kinds of people mingling. I just love how the city and the people are described. Despite the obvious racism, I don't think this is a racist story but the descriptions can definitely feel uncomfortable. On a sidenote, did you notice that Conan is eyeing a darker lady in the beginning of the story?

    Thou hast dwelt for many moons in the tents of the Zuagirs, and thou art our brother!

    The man warning Conan is a Zuagir. The desert raiders from A Witch Shall Be Born were Zuagirs as well. In fact there was recently discussion on the conan.com forums that wha if the seven months that passes after Conan's crucifixion could be the many moons the Zuagir mentions. So perhaps this story happens inside of A Witch Shall Be Born! That would be some Inception-level stuff.

    This is not the first or the last time (depending on your chronology) that Conan deals with the Darfari. It is indeed quite refreshing to hear Zabibi / Nafertari do some Set-prayers. Most of the time worship of Set comes out as this menacing evil thing so that it is good to get this perspective on it.

    Hanuman must be quite the thing if even priests of Set fear it (and Totrasmek). Although Stygia is the land of the serpent-god Set. There are several ape-god references to things that lurk in the hinterlands of Stygia. The slave of the ring that good ol' Thoth-amon summoned in Phoenix was baboon-like.

    For all his vocal scorn of Baal-pteor's strength, he had almost met his match in the inhuman Kosalan.

    Let that sink in, Conan almost met his match. I have to agree that Conan vs. Baal-pteor is the greatest duel from Conan stories. The interaction between the two characters is just so good. Baal-pteor getting bested at his own game is so rewarding. REH gives us some good background about Kosalans (who make several other appearances/references throughout the stories) and Baal-pteor's origins but yet leaves intentionally many things to mystery. What was his original name? Why did he have to leave Kosala? And most importantly what does his current name mean and why every temple-wench can tell it. :P I like it how Conan kills him but yet he comes back in the next chapter when we see what happened to the girl.

    This story gives good insight into Conan. It shows the many aspects of his character. First, the thing that he hits first and asks later. Secondly, is always ready to take assignments for a price. Thirdly, he feels like that he has to help the lady but yet he has no qualms about stealing the ring and tricking Nafertari. Finally he gives no quarter to those who wrong him, shown how brutally he deals with Aram Baksh.

    I love the idea that Conan keeps the ring. In fact you could theorize that to be his secret in the next story you tackle on!

    I support Howard's original titles for the stories. However, the Shadows in Zamboula is better change than the other Shadows story. It feels dumb that there would two Shadows in … -stories but that is just me.

    Haven't gotten around to listen your side quest episode yet. Came here originally to listen it but you had just put this one online.

    Are you going to do Hour of the Dragon in several parts or in a longer episode? It is after all the only Conan novel and although not a long one, still much longer than any of the other stories. I think it would be best enjoyed in small doses.