Monday, March 23, 2009

Short Story Sunday on Monday - The Once Upon a Time Edition

I have had this book for two years! I have picked it up to read several times, but just never got around to it. Then, last year I just hardly read at all, so lots of books stayed on my TBR pile untouched. Since I received this book from Carl, I figured it was fitting to try and read it for this years Once Upon a Time Challenge. Reading fantasy is not a challenge for me. I love fantasy and I read it all the time (as most of you know). Reading short stories, though, is a challenge. I am more likely to pick up a novel than a short-story collection. That is just how I am. So, this is my challenge.
“Between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities . . . there was an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars. . . . Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand . . . to tread
the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.”

Conan is one of the greatest fictional heroes ever created–a swordsman who cuts a swath across the lands of the Hyborian Age, facing powerful sorcerers, deadly creatures, and ruthless armies of thieves and reavers.

In a meteoric career that spanned a mere twelve years before his tragic suicide, Robert E. Howard single-handedly invented the genre that came to be called sword and sorcery. Collected in this volume, profusely illustrated by artist Mark Schultz, are Howard’s first thirteen Conan stories, appearing in their original versions–in some cases for the first time in more than seventy years–and in the order Howard wrote them. Along with classics of dark fantasy like “The Tower of the Elephant” and swashbuckling adventure like “Queen of the Black Coast,” The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian contains a wealth of material never before published in the United States, including the first submitted draft of Conan’s debut, “Phoenix on the Sword,” Howard’s synopses for “The Scarlet Citadel” and “Black Colossus,” and a map of Conan’s world drawn by the author himself.

Here are timeless tales featuring Conan the raw and dangerous youth, Conan the daring thief, Conan the swashbucklingpirate, and Conan the commander of armies. Here, too, is an unparalleled glimpse into the mind of a genius whose bold storytelling style has been imitated by many, yet equaled by none.
"The Pheonix on the Sword"

This story introduces us to Conan of Cimmerian. He has battled hard and won the kingship for himself. He doesn't like being king, though. He prefers battle and laments the days when he was able to simply ride a horse. He is special. The gods favour him, as he learns when his enemies decide that he has been king for long enough. They want the kingdom for themselves, even if it is going to take a lot of killing to do so. I love sword and sorcery stories. I really haven't read enough of them in the last few years, so I can see me really loving this collection. Already I want to know more about Conan and his adventures and I have only read one story!

"The Frost-Giant's Daughter"

This was a fun story. Well, in a way. I really liked the Frost-Giants Daughter, but on the other hand I didn't. Conan is the sole survivor of a horrific battle when a woman dressed only in a cloth of glossamer comes to him. She leads him on a chase that could end in Conan's death. For a minute it seems like Conan is going to take advantage of her, but Howard has this female have more brains and power at her disposal than originally thought. I really like Howard's writing style, too. It flows really well and is very descriptive.

"The God in the Bowl"

This story further shows that Conan is better with his sword than he is with communicating with people. Caught up in a murder, Conan witnesses the 'justice' of the town he is in. Finding someone to blame is more important than being innocent or guilty. Conan can get himself out of a jam, though. There is more going on that just the murder, though. They might just have to figure out who the real murderer is because he might have more deaths in mind... It was a page-turning story and had a really creepy feel to it.

That's it for this week! More, hopefully, next weekend. Later today there will be Bad Bloggers and then tomorrow will be Non-fiction Tuesday where I am going to post chapter overviews from two non-fiction books I have on the go. It will include the Introductions and three chapters this week. One is for Dewey's Reading Challenge and the other is for The Once Upon a Time Challenge. If it becomes a regular feature it will probably be just one book a week, but this is because of library due dates.


  1. Ah, it is so wonderful to hear about these stories again. And you have some great ones in front of you. Queen of the Black Coast is certainly one of my favorites and this is my favorite so far of the 3 Conan volumes, although I enjoyed the second and what I've read of the third. Mark Schultz is a fantastic illustrator and I love his work on this collection.

  2. Carl: Yes, the illustrations are great! Having only read three stories, I can't say much on anything else! I am enjoying it so far, though!

  3. hey kelly.. did you know that Conan had an accent? he sounded a lot like Arnold Schwartzenegger! heh..

  4. Pat: lol! I have seen those, er, delightful movies!

  5. I'd love to read these stories! One of the reasons being that Terry Pratchett has a character called Cohen the Barbarian, and I bet I'd see a lot of jokes that I missed if I knew the originals :P

  6. Nymeth: Oh,that's cool! I plan to read Pratchett's books in their entirety at some point, so I will have to see!

  7. I'm going to have to look into these stories!

  8. Jen: You should! I really need to get back to posting about them!


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