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Conan the Liberator
L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter
Tor Books, 254 pages


Art: Vladimir Nenov
Conan the Liberator
L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter
L(yon) Sprague de Camp was born in New York City in 1907. H served as a Lt. Commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve during WWII after earning a BS in Aeronautical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology in 1930 and his MS in Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology in 1933. In his 50 years of writing, he published over 100 science fiction and fantasy novels along with biographies of H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard. He died on November 6, 2000 in Plano, Texas.

ISFDB Bibliography: L. Sprague de Camp

Lin Carter
Lin(wood Vrooman) Carter was born in St. Petersburg, Florida in 1930. His first book, the beginning of the Thongor series, was published in 1965. He wrote a number of Conan novels but his greatest legacy was his editorial direction of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series which brought back into print numerous boooks and thereby influencing many of today's fantasy writers and readers. He died in 1988.

ISFDB Bibliography: Lin Carter

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Cindy Lynn Speer

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Numedides, King of Aquilonia is mad. In his madness and desire for immortality he heaps cruelty upon cruelty on the heads of his people. He and the wizard Thulandra Thuu have been kidnapping maidens, torturing them and taking their blood to complete the ritual that will grant them eternal life. Them, in that the wizard has no intention on using the ritual to help the king... no, the king is merely a guinea pig.

Numedides deserves the wizard's betrayal, for he has not stopped with kidnapping and murder. In his madness, he has done many terrible things, and several of his people have bound themselves together in a rebel force, determined to end his reign. Conan, having just broken with the madman, is their general.

There are spies in Conan's ranks, and the opposing general is a formidable opponent. Nothing, it seems, can keep Conan from his goal... or can it?

Tor has done a fine job in the reissue of Conan the Liberator. The map is beautiful, and L. Sprague de Camp's lovely 1979 introduction is intact, providing valuable insight about the life of Conan's creator, Robert E. Howard, as well as much needed context for the story itself. Conan's tales begin from his early years, following him as he rises in power, and therefore the reader definitely needs to be able to place where we are in Conan's ascension.

Conan defined Heroic Fantasy, and reading Conan the Liberator will show the reader why. He is a juggernaut... larger than the men around him, muscular and handsome. No one is stronger or better with a sword, and yes, I confess, I often saw Arnold Schwartznegger in my mind's eye as I read. Conan definitely has a certain charm to him, and massive amounts of charisma. All of the elements that we expect in this type of book are here... the plot is filled with battles and adventure, dark magic and beautiful women. For example, when the magician stands at the edge of the cliff, having just committed a great sacrifice, calls for the powers of the earth, and it is only Conan's keen senses that save his army from destruction. The scene is both chilling and exciting... and is exactly the scene that exemplify the quality that is so central to the feeling of the book. The pairing of Lin Carter and De Camp, as always, stays true to Howard's voice. It is fast-paced and wonderfully readable, yet it still has the older tones, the older feel that a writer from the 30s would give it. This definitely gives it its own style... the feeling of the Hyborian Age seeps through the cracks of the pages. You really do feel transported to a time like no other.

There is part of me that doesn't like re-releases. This is the part of me that needs to keep a list of the books I've read, and who hates new covers confusing the subject. The rest of me applauds the publisher, because characters such as Conan should never be forgotten, especially by anyone who wants to write fantasy or read about its past. The heritage of Conan can be seen in so many books, and I, for one, am happy that he is being reintroduced to the next generation.

Copyright © 2002 Cindy Lynn Speer

Cindy Lynn Speer loves books so much that she's designed most of her life around them, both as a librarian and a writer. Her books aren't due out anywhere soon, but she's trying. You can find her site at www.apenandfire.com.


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