Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Conan the Liberator

In general I like Conan the Barbarian books, having said that, the book Conan the Liberator by L. Sprague De Camp and Lin Carter is not amongst the best Conan books. I don't really get why it was not better. I've read other books by L. Sprague De Camp and enjoyed them. Considering the topic of the book, I would expect better. It is after all a book on Conan's rise to Kinghood.

Conan had been a general of Aquilonia but was forced to flee. After several further adventures he is asked by several rebels to lead their revolt against the now mad king Numedides, who is basically a puppet of the sorcerer Thulandra Thuu. Conan uses the treasure of Tranicos, which he had found on an earlier adventure, to assembles an army with the help of Count Trocero, a nobleman of Poitain; Dexitheus, a priest of Mitra; Publius, a rebel tax accessor; and Prospero, another exiled general. The story then is about the armies trip to the capital city of Aquilonia.

A lot of this book did not make sense to me. The tactics used by both Conan and Thuu did not make much sense. Moments before the climatic battle the priest of Mitra, Dexitheus, suddenly revealed that in his youth he was a sorcerer and with his power Conan can defeat Thuu. They went through several battles, Conan nearly died, etc. and he did not mention that he has powers?

The characterization in this book is poor. Conan is in his forties and has been betrayed by women repeatedly, it makes sense for a teenage or young Conan to fall for these things, but this is not a young Conan, this is a Conan who has been a thief, general, soldier, pirate, etc. The thing I'm bringing up is a beautiful girl, Alcina, just suddenly showing up at some small town tavern to dance and then becoming his mistress and he suspects that there is a spy in his ranks but doesn't suspect her. Not only does she spy on him, she ends up poisoning him and he did not suspect her at all until she went and did that. As for her she didn't think of checking to make sure he was dead. The characters are constantly doing stupid things in the book.

The battles were not exciting and other than the character being named Conan and some of the places named this might as well not have been a Conan book. Conan does not act like Conan. Conan is supposed to be the main character of this book but he doe not get the most screen time, the sorcerer Thulandra Thuu gets a lot more than Conan does. The book is also pretty boring, especially for a book in the sword and sorcery genre; there is a lot of meaningless dialogue and pointless politics mentioned.

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