Monday, April 21, 2014

Episode 21: The Hour of The Dragon (Part One)




"I wish that I might see this king," mused Xaltotun, glancing toward a silvery mirror which formed one of the panels of the wall. This mirror cast no reflection, but Xaltotun's expression showed that he understood its purpose, and Orastes nodded with the pride a good craftsman takes in the recognition of his accomplishments by a master of his craft.
"I will try to show him to you," he said. And seating himself before the mirror, he gazed hypnotically into its depths, where presently a dim shadow began to take shape.
It was uncanny, but those watching knew it was no more than the reflected image of Orastes' thought, embodied in that mirror as a wizard's thoughts are embodied in a magic crystal. It floated hazily, then leaped into startling clarity -- a tall man, mightily shouldered and deep of chest, with a massive corded neck and heavily muscled limbs. He was clad in silk and velvet, with the royal lions of Aquilonia worked in gold upon his rich jupon, and the crown of Aquilonia shone on his square-cut black mane; but the great sword at his side seemed more natural to him than the regal accouterments. His brow was low and broad, his eyes a volcanic blue that smoldered as if with some inner fire. His dark, scarred, almost sinister face was that of a fighting-man, and his velvet garments could not conceal the hard, dangerous lines of his limbs.
"That man is no Hyborian!" exclaimed Xaltotun.
"No; he is a Cimmerian, one of those wild tribesmen who dwell in the gray hills of the north."
"I fought his ancestors of old," muttered Xaltotun. "Not even the kings of Acheron could conquer them..."
King Conan - Hour of the Dragon #1. Cover art by Jose Villarubia.
 

This week we begin our coverage of Robert E. Howard's only novel, The Hour of the Dragon! (Read it on Project Gutenberg!) We made it halfway through the story, one episode of The Cromcast couldn't contain all of the awesome within this story! Many familiar themes lie within - resurrected sorcerers, a plot to overthrow the king, large battles, a dungeon escape, and some dungeon crawls and prison rescues with a bit of a different slant! We think that any Conan movie that follows up on the 1982 film needs to be based on this story! Let us know what you think, and join us in two weeks for the exciting conclusion of 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
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

1 comment:

  1. His name is Conan, and no man can stand before him in battle.

    Great episode! The reading of the poem in the beginning was awesome.

    I believe the British publisher went bankrupt before the story was finished and that's why Howard sold the tale to Weird Tales.

    The resurrection scene in the beginning of the story is amazing. In some of the Howard's drafts and synopsis Acheronians are a Hyborian tribe more advanced than their other kin. I'm not sure what his ultimate position on Acheronians was because thid Hyborian angle is not really present in the final version except that it is said Xaltotun is not a Stygian and there are still descendants of Acheron in Nemedia.

    Some believe that the two Amalrics are on and the same. If I remember correctly they might have hair of different color, though.

    Throughout the Conan stories REH does some revisions to the Hyborian Age timeline and it is quite possible that the location of the Heart of Ahriman was the same as the tomb of Epemitreus. There are some clues and details that support this view.

    In Iron Shadows in the Moon Olivia rescued Conan from the pirate camp but Conan still does most the rescuing in that story. However, Zenobia is a unique Conan girl.

    I loved the aspects of Conan observation you made. In many ways the The Hour of the Dragon is “the best of” tour from the Hyborian Age. In addition, there is this supernatural undercurrent in this story in regards of Conan's fate/destiny with his kingdom. This was similarly present in the Phoenix and perhaps Black Colossus too. I call this The Road to Acheron theory, all roads lead to the same destination, named after the final chapter of the novel and chronologically the last one from Conan stories. I won't go into detail about the theory but in short the story is a predestined supernatural/cosmological (final) showdown that plays between two sides whose champions are Conan&Co and Xaltotun's & his minions. Howard drops some hints in this story and the others I mentioned that could lead to this interpretation.

    I can't wait for the other episode for the rest of the story.

    As you are nearing the end of Conan stories have you thought what you will tackle on next? I would recommend you to take on King Kull. It is more of the same yet different, there aren't that many stories to cover, The Shadow Kingdom is one of the genre defining stories and as you know the first Conan story was a rewrite of a Kull story. That could make an interesting episode where you could compare these two stories and these two different protagonists once you have established some familiarity with Kull. These stories could also bridge the way to Bran Mak Morn later on through the Kings of the Night crossover story (which I would skip when dealing with Kull cos that one is really a Bran Mak Morn story).

    And btw, since you are enjoying refreshments while recording the show, I think one could make a drinking game of this story. Every time Conan puts on a disguise or a new outfit you take a sip. :P

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