Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Episode 22: The Hour of the Dragon (Part 2)

This week, we finish our discussion of the only Conan novel written by Robert E. Howard, "The Hour of the Dragon." (Read it on Project Gutenberg!)

Cover to the Lancer edition, by Frank Frazetta

When last we left our hero Conan, he was searching for The Heart of Ahriman, the metaphorical heart of his kingdom. This episode picks up with Conan's pursuit of this ancient and powerful magical artifact. Meanwhile, Xaltotun the Ancient is showing his true ambitions - the full resurrection of ancient Acheron! This story culminates in an exciting battle that you won't want to miss! Let us know what you think of the story!

Only one more stop along the Road of Kings - Red Nails! (Read it on Project Gutenberg!)

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



    Good episode, guys! Once again you made some great observations and had some cool discussion. In regards to your last discussion on Conan and the imperial ambitions, the Letter to P. Schuyler Miller kinda touches this subject. You can find the letter from the last del Rey or googling the name but here is the relevant part:

    He was, I think, king of Aquilonia for many years, in a turbulent and unquiet reign, when the Hyborian civilization had reached its most magnificent high-tide, and every king had imperial ambitions. At first he fought on the defensive, but I am of the opinion that at last he was forced into wars of aggression as a matter of self-preservation. Whether he succeeded in conquering a world-wide empire, or perished in the attempt, I do not know. -REH

    So you were spot on in your analysis.

    The Black Ring is a secret cult or organization of some kind which operates in Stygia.
    The first del Rey contains some REH's notes on the Gundermen:

    Gundermen. Gunderland was once a separate kingdom, but was brought into the larger kingdom, less by conquest than agreement. Its people never considered themselves exactly Aquilonians, and after the fall of the great kingdom, Gunderland existed for several generations in its former state as a separate principality. Their ways were ruder and more primitively Hyborian than those of the Aquilonians, their main concession to the ways of their more civilized southern neighbors being the adoption of the god Mitra in place of the primitive Bori – a worship to which they returned, however, upon the fall of Aquilonia. They were, next to the Hyperboreans, the tallest of the Hyborian races. They were fine soldiers, and inclined to wander far. Gunderland mercenaries were to be found in all the armies of the Hyborian kingdoms, and in Zamora and the more powerful kingdoms of Shem.

    One cool thing about the conspirators was they were never really that unified group. Tarascus wanted the Nemedian throne and see Aquilonia in ruin. Valerius first wanted to become the king of Aquilonia but after seeing that he was just a puppet wanted then to ruin everyone associated with him (and no doubt helped to stir rebellion in Aquilonia). Amalric of course wanted to become emperor of both Aquilonia and Nemedia. Orastes wanted to learn more of the dark arts but all these petty ambitions paled in comparison what Xaltotun was planning. This kinda relates to that what you were talking about stories within stories and the Hyborian Age being its breathing living world.

    Overall I think that The Hour of the Dragon on some level kinda suffers from the episodic nature but if you are really willing to immerse yourself in the world of Conan then you are going to love this story. And I like this one very much. It may not be among my top favorite Conan stories but I consider it essential reading to see and understand the Conan stories.

    There is an untapped potential of other Hyborian Age stories, I agree with you on that.

    Once again great ep guys.

  2. I was thinking about Trocero and the Poitanians asking Conan to stay and be their king. It seems like taking over Poitan should be an easy decision for Conan. They're begging him to do it. If Conan feels the need to rule over Aquilonia because he's the rightful king, why not pop on over to Poitan after he regains his throne? It's what the people want, so it should fall within his ideas of what is right and noble.