Conan the Victorious
For nearly two years, Aquilonia thrived under Conan’s firm but tolerant rule. The lawless, hard-bitten adventurer of former years had, through force of circumstance, matured into an able and responsible statesman. But a plot was brewing in neighboring Nemedia to destroy the King of Aquilonia by sorcery from an elder day.
Conan, about forty-five, showed few signs of age save a network of scars on his mighty frame and a more cautious approach to wine, women and bloodshed. Although he kept a harem of luscious concubines, he had never taken an official queen; hence he had no legitimate son to inherit the throne, a fact whereof his enemies sought to take advantage.
The plotters resurrected Xaltotun, the greatest sorcerer of the ancient empire of Acheron, which fell before the Hyborian savages 3,000 years earlier. By Xaltotun’s magic, the King of Nemedia was slain and replaced by his brother Tarascus. Black sorcery defeated Conan’s army; Conan was imprisoned, and the exile Valerius took his throne.
Escaping from a dungeon with the aid of the harem girl Zenobia, Conan returned to Aquilonia to rally his loyal forces against Valerius. From the priests of Asura, he learned that Xaltotun’s power could be broken only by means of a strange jewel, the “Heart of Ahriman.” The trail of the jewel led to a pyramid in the Stygian desert outside black-walled Khemi. Winning the Heart of Ahriman, Conan returned to face his foes (Conan the Conqueror, originally published as The Hour of the Dragon).
After regaining his kingdom, Conan made Zenobia his queen. But, at the ball celebrating her elevation, the queen was borne off by a demon sent by the Khitan sorcerer Yah Chieng. Conan’s quest for his bride carried him across the known world, meeting old friends and foes. In purple-towered Paikang, with the help of a magical ring, he freed Zenobia and slew the wizard (Conan the Avenger, originally published as The Return of Conan).
Home again, the way grew smoother. Zenobia gave him heirs: a son named Conan but commonly called Conn, another son called Taurus, and a daughter. When Conn was twelve, his father took him on a hunting trip to Gunderland. Conan was now in his late fifties. His sword arm was a little slower than in his youth, and his black mane and the fierce mustache of his later years were traced with gray; but his strength still surpassed that of two ordinary men.
When Conn was lured away by the Witchmen of Hyperborea, who demanded that Conan come to their stronghold alone, Conan went. He found Louhi, the High Priestess of the Witchmen, in conference with three others of the world’s leading sorcerers: Thoth-Amon of Stygia; the god-king of Kambuja; and the black lord of Zembabwei. In the ensuing holocaust, Louhi and the Kambujan perished, while Thoth-Amon and the other sorcerer vanished by magic (“The Witch of the Mists”).
Old King Ferdrugo of Zingara had died, and his throne remained vacant as the nobles intrigued over the succession. Duke Pantho of Guarralid invaded Poitain, in southern Aquilonia. Conan, suspecting sorcery, crushed the invaders. Learning that Thoth-Amon was behind Pantho’s madness, Conan set out with his army to settle matters with the Stygian. He pursued his foe to Thoth-Amon’s stronghold in Stygia (“Black Sphinx of Nebthu”), to Zembabwei (“Red Moon of Zembabwei”), and to the last realm of the serpent folk in the far south (“Shadows in the Skull”).
For several years, Conan’s rule was peaceful. But time did that which no combination of foes had been able to do. The Cimmerian’s skin became wrinkled and his hair gray; old wounds ached in damp weather. Conan’s beloved consort Zenobia died giving birth to their second daughter.
Then catastrophe shattered King Conan’s mood of half-resigned discontent. Supernatural entities, the Red Shadows, began seizing and carrying off his subjects. Conan was baffled until in a dream he again visited the sage Epimitreus. He was told to abdicate in favor of Prince Conn and set out across the Western Ocean.
Conan discovered that the Red Shadows had been sent by the priest-wizards of Antillia, a chain of islands in the western part of the ocean, whither the survivors of Atlantis had fled 8,000 years before. These priests offered human sacrifices to their devil-god Xotli on such a scale that their own population faced extermination.
In Antillia, Conan’s ship was taken, but he escaped into the city of Ptahuacan. After conflicts with giant rats and dragons, he emerged atop the sacrificial pyramid just as his crewmen were about to be sacrificed. Supernatural conflict, revolution, and seismic catastrophe ensued. In the end, Conan sailed off to explore the continents to the west (Conan of the Isles).
Whether he died there, or whether there is truth in the tale that he strode out of the West to stand at his son’s side in a final battle against Aquilonia’s foes, will be revealed only to him who looks, as Kull of Valusia once did, into the mystic mirrors of Tuzun Thune.
L. Sprague de Camp
This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental.
CONAN THE VICTORIOUS
Copyright © 1984 by Conan Properties, Inc.
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form.
A TOR Book
Published by Tom Doherty Associates
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Robert Jordan, Conan the Victorious
(Series: Robert Jordans Conan Novels # 7)