|Don't let the movie tie-in|
cover fool you, this is old school
Robert E. Howard Conan!
As characterized in "The People of the Black Circle" (Weird Tales, November 1934), and throughout the collection, Conan is a fearless force of nature whose reputation proceeds him and invokes fear among those who would challenge him. In nearly each story, Conan does not begin as the focal point of the stories set-up, but rather plays the role of the unseen force waiting to be released. Once provoked (not a good idea!), Conan responds as one might expect: by cutting, punching and clawing his way through evil sorcerers, deadly monsters, and barren landscapes. This interaction from early in "People" captures Conan's approach:
"I climbed a bastion," snarled the intruder. "A guard thrust his head over the battlement in time for me to rap it with my knife hilt."While clearly developed within the warrior archetype, Howard's Conan is a much more well-developed literary creation than that which those who grew up on movie character (it is difficult to discuss one without the other, so pervasive is our culture's acceptance of Schwarzenegger's incredibly quotable, quip-filled performance) will remember. Well-spoken (and plain-spoken in his time) and a tactician, Howard's Conan is as likely to plot and persevere as he is to simply attack and plunder. Each of the stories contributes to developing the Conan character while building the Hyborian Age in which he dwells.
"Are you Conan?"
"Who else? You sent word into the hills that you wished for me to come and parley with you. Well, by Crom, I've come! Keep away from that table or I'll gut you." (38)
These are energetic, fantastic stories, in the truest sense of the word. Especially surprising is the literary manner in which Conan's tales are told, making it is difficult to see how stories such as these were seen as easily dismissed storytelling entertainment worthy of only inexpensive paper for publishing (thus the term "pulp").
If you are favored, Crom will guide you, as he did me, into a used bookstore where it can be purchased, though better libraries will likely have this collection in their "Fantasy" paperbacks section. For those lacking his blessing, it is definitely worth checking online stores for Robert E. Howard's influential and entertaining source stories.