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Author Topic: In Which Order Should One Read The Original Conan Novels?  (Read 607 times)

Offline Cacique Caribe

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In Which Order Should One Read The Original Conan Novels?
« on: February 24, 2021, 05:58:53 PM »
Iím trying to get inspired to game Conan the Barbarian in miniature.  Well, at least start buying Conanesque figures for now.

So I wanted to go back to the basics and read the earliest Conan novels (by Robert E Howard) ...

Does one read the novels in the order in which they were first published, starting in 1932 with the Phoenix on the Sword, or should it be done in some other order? 

I guess what Iím trying to ask is, did Robert E Howard get them published in chronological order?

Thanks

Dan
« Last Edit: February 26, 2021, 03:20:13 AM by Cacique Caribe »

Offline Hobgoblin

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Re: In Which Order Should One Read The Original Conan Novels?
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2021, 06:11:41 PM »
I'd read the stories in publication order. Howard didn't publish them in chronological order, though L Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter are widely believed to have made a mess of the stories by trying to fit them into a strict internal chronology.

I haven't read all the Conan stories, but I reckon it's generally much better to follow characters' development by reading stories in publication (or writing) order rather than according to internal chronology. Both the Narnia series and Fritz Lieber's Fafhrd and Gray Mouser stories are much more enjoyable if you follow their development in the order they were written rather than according to the internal history. It's just more interesting to see how the character evolved in the writer's mind rather than piecing together a chronology that might not quite make sense.

The Gollancz Complete Chronicles of Conan has them all in publication order.

Offline PhilB

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Re: In Which Order Should One Read The Original Conan Novels?
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2021, 08:12:29 PM »
Ballantine Books did a great set of omnibus editions. Got em right here. Very entertaining, not to emntion inspiring.

AFAICT, there isn't a clear chronological order to the stories. Just read em and enjoy.

Offline mmcv

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Re: In Which Order Should One Read The Original Conan Novels?
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2021, 10:25:19 PM »
Each is fairly self contained, barring a few references here and there so I'd say just pick one you like the look of and go for it. I got the complete works on audio book and would recommend, good listening as inspiration while you paint.

Offline Elbows

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Re: In Which Order Should One Read The Original Conan Novels?
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2021, 11:13:18 PM »
I have the set of three books which include all of the stores in the order they were published - go that route.  As mentioned above they're self-contained, so while they jump around chronologically it's not a big deal.

Del Rey (I think) in the US did the series I have.



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Offline Cacique Caribe

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Re: In Which Order Should One Read The Original Conan Novels?
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2021, 12:04:27 AM »
Thanks, guys!  In order of publication it is then.

Dan

Offline BZ

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Re: In Which Order Should One Read The Original Conan Novels?
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2021, 07:42:01 AM »
As I remember, every story can stand on his own feet and there is no strict chronological order. Exception is the introduction of hyborian history (which should be the first) and the novels, where Conan is already king of Aquilonia (they should be the last ones). I also have the complete chronicles, so I would also say, that publication order is fine.

Offline Little Odo

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Re: In Which Order Should One Read The Original Conan Novels?
« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2021, 09:45:43 AM »
I seem to recall an explanation of the Conan tales from a R.E. Howard letter I read many moons ago. He explained that the Conan tales were told to him by Conan as if by someone recollecting his life - as the tales were recollected, they were told - not in any particular order. I kind of like the idea that REH was "visited" by Conan on a regular basis to hear yet another of his wonderful tales and then put them to paper after the tale was told.

Also, don't forget, that some are rewrites of unsuccessful tales (i.e. those that were not published as other characters but re-written as Conan tales so they could sell to the pulps) - especially the Pictish wilderness years.

So, to sum up, read them in publication order as that is how Howard had the tales related to him  :)
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Offline JohnDSD2

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Re: In Which Order Should One Read The Original Conan Novels?
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2021, 12:25:36 PM »
This is probably a bit of an aside.

I agree with previous comments regarding publication order.

However, I have embarked on reading them in the Chronological order of Conan's life and included all the Conan stories by the various authors who have dabbled in the genre.

There are a number of potential chronologies on Wikipedia , I'm going 'William Galen Gray' There are just slightly fewer than 100 tales, of varying quality. If you choose to do something similar, read REH tales first as they are by far the best and most atmospheric before reading the other authors. Some of the later authors have a very formulaic style and the stories can get very similar and a bit juvenile IMO, like I said REH's are the most imaginative.

I love the original Arnie film for inspiration too!

I hope that helps.

Offline Melnibonean

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Re: In Which Order Should One Read The Original Conan Novels?
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2021, 09:59:37 PM »
Read them in any order. The only thing I would recommend is to read Conan of Aquilonia and Conan of the Isles last (because they're the last in the series).
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