The Hyborian Age
Know, O prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the sons of Aryas, there was an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars -- Nemedia, Ophir, Brythunia, Hyperborea, Zamora with its dark-haired women and towers of spider-haunted mystery, Zingara with its chivalry, Koth that bordered on the pastoral lands of Shem, Stygia with its shadow guarded tombs, Hyrkania whose riders wore steel and silk and gold. But the proudest kingdom of the world was Aquilonia, reigning supreme in the dreaming west.
Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen eyed, sword in hand--a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandaled feet.
from the Nemedian Chronicles
Stuff of legends, Conan was first created by Robert E.Howard as a character in his novels and short stories in the 1930's. Howard painted a portrait of a savage barbarian, of gigantic strength and ability, but he was not a do-gooder, rather someone who followed his own code of honor and tried to stay alive in a world full of perils. His world was rich in decadent civilizations, forgotten treasure still buried amongst ancient ruins, wizards who actively practiced their magics and called up monstrosities from beyond, that could only be defeated by cold steel and mighty muscles to power it.
Howard, born in Peaster, Texas in 1906, lived and worked in Cross Plains, Texas and attended Howard Payne College. He committed suicide in 1936.
In the mid 1950's, L. Sprague de Camp was hired by Gnome Press in order to edit the Conan tales. But he didn't just "edit" the stories. He rewrote finished typescripts, censored some others, re-wrote Howard stories featuring entirely different characters and settings into Conan tales, and made mistakes when he edited what he thought were Howard's mistakes.
There also were a series of comic books starring Conan, produced by Marvel Comics. These were:
In the early eighties, two Conan movies were produced by Dino de Laurentiis, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. While the first movie, Conan the Barbarian, followed Howard's original pretty closely, the second, Conan the Destroyer, was, although entertaining, rather ill-conceived. A third film, King Conan: Sword of Steel is in production. In the nineties, we saw a made for TV series, Conan the Adventurer. This dismal attempt starred another bodybuilder, and friend of Arnold's, Ralf Moeller, but is best forgotten.
Appendix I: Links:
- A timeline: http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/6570/galen.html
- A Conan D20 RPG: http://www.geocities.com/gmredux/hyboria/index.html
Appendix II: Chronology of Conan novels and short stories: