Black Colossus

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This article is about a short story. For the protagonist and principal character, see Conan the Barbarian. For the collection of the same title that contains this story, see Black Colossus (collection).
"Black Colossus"
Author Robert E. Howard
Country US
Language English
Series Conan the Cimmerian
Genre(s) Fantasy
Published in US
Publication type Pulp magazine
Publisher Weird Tales
Publication date 1933

"Black Colossus" is one of the original short stories starring the fictional sword and sorcery hero Conan the Cimmerian, written by American author Robert E. Howard and first published in Weird Tales magazine, June 1933.[1] Howard earned $130 for the sale of this story.[2]

It is set in the pseudo-historical Hyborian Age and concerns Conan leading the demoralized army of Khoraja against an evil sorcerer named Natohk, "the Veiled One."

This story formed part of the basis for the later Conan novel, The Hour of the Dragon.

Plot overview[edit]

A powerful wizard named Thugra Khotan is awoken from his three-thousand year sleep by an audacious yet unlucky Zamoran thief named Shevatas (he does not survive the experience). Thugra wakes with dreams of world domination. He assumes the name Natohk, the Veiled One, gathers an army of desert tribes and sets out to conquer the Hyborian nations. However, the tiny kingdom of Khoraja stands in his way, a country presently ruled by the lithesome Yasmela, sister of the king, who is himself a captive of neighbouring Ophir. In dread of Natohk's pending invasion, Yasmela turns for advice to the nigh-forgotten god of her ancestors, Mitra, and is told to venture into the streets and hand over the defense of her kingdom to the first man she meets.

Fatefully, the first man she encounters is Conan the Cimmerian. Conan already has a position in her army, but now he is given full command, much to the chagrin of the other more cultured commanders. Conan demonstrates skill in tactics but his efforts are undermined by arrogant officers below him who fall victim to Natohk's magic. Meanwhile, the wizard himself has made it clear conquering the world isn't the only thing on his agenda: He also desires the lovely Yasmela for himself.

The story climaxes with a large battle. Conan defeats Natohk's army and Natohk makes a last attempt to snatch Yasmela. Conan gives chase and confront the wizard in the ruins of a Stygian temple.

Publication history[edit]

"Black Colossus" was first published in Weird Tales, June 1933.

A version of the story that was edited by L. Sprague de Camp was first published in the collection Conan the Barbarian (Gnome Press, 1954). It was then republished in several collections entitled Conan the Freebooter (Lancer Books, 1968; Sphere, 1974; Prestige, 1977; Ace, 1981) and The Conan Chronicles Volume 1 (Sphere, 1989).

The original version was first republished in Black Colossus (Grant, 1979). It has more recently been published in the collections The Conan Chronicles Volume 1: The People of the Black Circle (Gollancz, 2000), Conan of Cimmeria: Volume One (1932-1933) (Del Rey, 2003), The Weird Writings of Robert E. Howard Volume 1 (Girasol Collectables, 2006), The Complete Chronicles of Conan (Gollancz, 2006), Valley of the Worm (Wildside Press, 2006) and Three Tales of Conan the Barbarian (Echo Library, 2007).

An Italian translation was published in L'Era di Conan (Oscar fantasy Gennaio, 1989).[1]

Adaptations[edit]

The story was adapted in comics form by Roy Thomas, John Buscema, and Alfredo Alcala in 1974, in the B&W Marvel Comics magazine Savage Sword of Conan #2.[1]

The Savage Sword comics adaptation was reprinted in full color in the large sized Marvel Treasury Edition #15 in 1977.

In 2008, the Marvel adaptation was reprinted in black and white in the Savage Sword of Conan trade paperback published by Dark Horse.

In 2009, Timothy Truman and Tomas Giorello adapted the story in Dark Horse Comics' Conan the Cimmerian #8-13.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Publication history of Black Colossus retrieved 23 December 2007
  2. ^ REHupa Fiction Timeline retrieved 23 December 2007

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"The Tower of the Elephant"
Original Howard Canon
(publication order)
Succeeded by
"The Slithering Shadow"
Preceded by
"Shadows in the Moonlight"
Original Howard Canon
(Dale Rippke chronology)
Succeeded by
"Queen of the Black Coast"
Preceded by
"Hawks over Shem"
Complete Conan Saga
(William Galen Gray chronology)
Succeeded by
"Shadows in the Dark"