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Book Review: Conan the Barbarian

Conan the Barbarian by Michael Stackpole

Find the title on Amazon where you can also read a full description of the book and about the author.

I was not given my copy of the book. I was not asked to or paid to write this review.

I consider myself a Conan fan. I’ve read many of Robert E Howard’s books. I read the Marvel comics. I even read a couple of Robert Jordan’s Conan novels. And of course I’ve seen all the movies.

I’m a fan, not a fanatic. I know much about Conan lore, but I couldn’t recite the Hyborian Knowledge as many could. I just enjoy a good read and Conan can provide that.

I’m also a fan of Mike Stackpole. I enjoy his works and his writing style. I have read several of his books and have more on my to read pile.

I saw that the Conan movie was about to come out and I knew that Stackpole was going to write the novelization. I grabbed it for my kindle as soon as it was available. I love technology. I didn’t, however, start reading until after I had seen the movie. Too many times I’ve been disappointed by a movie after reading the book.

Sadly the new Conan movie was lacking. It was a shallow representation of Conan lore. It seemed like a minor transition from big fight scene to big fight scene. There was little development of the character. At least with the Arnold movies we had a running dialog to fill in many holes.

I worried that the book would also be lacking, but knowing Michael, I dove into the book. At first I was confused. It didn’t start where the movie started. I didn’t mind though. I didn’t need a long explanation of Conan being born on the battlefield. In great Stackpolean fashion, he brought Conan’s birth into the novel through conversation. Something the movie lacked a lot of was conversation and Michael brought that into the novel.

He also brought us the Conan history that Howard always had in his stories. That background needed to fill in so many gaps left in the movie. Where the movie failed, the novel succeeded. I finished the book quickly, finding it difficult to put down. It was such an enjoyable read. I can only hope that Michale Stackpole is allowed to revisit this universe and continue on the Conan tradition. After reading this book, he’s earned the right.