As part of my guest blog series I am proud to present another guest blog spot. David Thomas I am very excited andthe blogger behind Conan the Cimmerian Blog (The Rambling Conan Blog)
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Now without further adieu here is David’s awesome guest blog.
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Conan the Cimmerian Blog (The Rambling Conan Blog)
Conan was dumb, and 4 other common misconceptions
by David Thomas
There are several misconceptions about Conan that I see crop up time and again. This week I thought I’d address 5 of these and set the record straight.
The big, dumb barbarian
I don’t know where this misconception originally came from. It could have been pastiche, which often portrays Conan and other sword and sorcery barbarians as ignorant brutes. It could have been the comics, which, as much as I love the Roy Thomas stuff, did portray Conan as not much of a thinker. It could also be RPG’s, where one a few stats have to be lower than average to have a few stats higher than average. For barbarians, Intelligence is generally the dump stat.
Wherever this originated, it’s probably the most popular misconception of the burly Cimmerian. Conan was naive, in that he was innocent of civilization. We are also told in Queen of the Black Coast that he was “naturally intelligent”. He doesn’t contemplate things that don’t matter to his daily life. We see this in QotBC as well, during the conversation about gods with Belit. In matters that concern him, Conan is very much a thinker, with a cunning intelligence and a brain wired directly to reflex.
Almost everywhere Conan’s world is now called “Hyboria”. Well, that’s not its name. It’s our own world, probably around 10,000 BC at the end of the Ice Age. The Hyborians are the racial stock of the people of the middle kingdoms of the continent which Conan roams. Never in non-pastiche do the inhabitants of the land call their world “Hyboria”. It’s an invention of de Camp and company.
Thoth-Amon is Conan’s arch-nemesis
Again, thanks to pastiche, Thoth-Amon is the sorcerer supreme rival to Conan’s barbarian might. In truth, Thoth-Amon only really appears in three Conan stories, and he never directly intentionally attacks Conan. He probably barely knows of Conan, until Conan becomes King. He first appears in The God in the Bowl, as the antagonist who we find has sent the titled bowl to an rival. The rival isn’t Conan, but is instead the Priest of Ibis, Caranthes. Conan only coincidentally gets tangled up in the plot. In The Phoenix on the Sword, Thoth-Amon has lost his ring and thus his power. Sure, he sends the demon which is ultimately defeated by Conan, but the demons target was actually someone else. Finally, In The Hour of the Dragon, Thoth-Amon is only mentioned as the chief sorcerer of Set, never actually appearing or interfering with Conan.
Women are all useless damsels in distress
This one always proves to me who has read Conan and who hasn’t. Sure, Conan was written for the pulps, and the women do happen to find themselves in need of rescue often. However, there are plenty of strong female characters in the REH Conan tales. Bêlit does and takes whatever she wants. She runs a pirate ship full of men. Valeria says “Why won’t men let me live a man’s life?” She lives by the sword, and is the equal or better of any man. Even the woman who walks around naked for the entire story, Nafetari/Zabibi in the story Man-Eaters of Zamboula, is only playing Conan the entire story. Once again, I chalk it up to pastiche and bad sword and sorcery stories and films which have fixed this useless damsel image into everyone’s stereotype.
and one misconception about the 1982 Conan film
Okay, the Conan films are all pastiche. I still love the Arnold ones. It’s come to my attention that many people think that Conan thinks the “Thing in the Crypt”, where he finds his Atlantean sword, is Crom. He does not. He says “Crom!”, as he often does when he encounters something startling. He is cursing, not questioning.
Even the Conan wiki page under the Crom entry has this mistake.
So there you have it, 5 misconceptions about Conan dispelled.
If you have any other common misconceptions you want dispelled or discussed, mention them in the comments!
Original post can be found here:
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