Thanks to Arnie, Conan the Barbarian is one of the most well-known characters of heroic fantasy in today's world. A creation of Robert E. Howard in the 1930s, Conan, with his exotic adventures, sword fights, arcane wizardry, and buxom blondes in leggings and breastplates, has become not only the epitome of sword & sorcery, but a product of the times. Though influencing a large amount of fantasy, from Joe Abercrombie’s Logen Ninefingers to Michael Moorcock’s Elric, Steven Erikson’s Karsa Orlong to Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd, tales of the Cimmerian warrior nevertheless represent juvenile wish fulfillment in its most overt form, leaving most to balk. Given that the quality of the writing is also extremely, extremely poor, there is little to recommend about the stories save nostalgia and cover art.
Conan the Warrior is a collection of three tales, all published toward the end of Howard’s short life. The following is a brief summary of “Red Nails”, “Jewels of Gwahlur”, and “Beyond the Black River”.
“Red Nails” – Conan, and his unpredictable ally, Valeria, find themselves in an eerie city, danger and intrigue all around. Wheels within wheels of plot unrolling themselves in this complex story, events shift unpredictably as the secrets of the roofed city are undone by the duo in one action-packed scene after another.