The Gem in the Tower

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This article is about a short story. For the protagonist and principal character, see Conan the Barbarian.
"The Gem in the Tower"
Author L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter
Country United States
Language English
Series Conan the Barbarian
Genre(s) Fantasy short story
Published in Conan the Swordsman
Publication type Collection
Publisher Bantam Books
Media type Print (Paperback)
Publication date 1978

"The Gem in the Tower" is a short story by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter featuring the fictional sword and sorcery hero Conan the Barbarian created by Robert E. Howard. It is a rewritten version of "Black Moonlight," an earlier story by Carter alone featuring his own sword and sorcery character Thongor. As a Thongor story it was first published in the magazine Fantastic in the issue for November 1976,[1] and was reprinted in the anthology The Year's Best Fantasy Stories: 3 (DAW Books, 1977). The Conan version was first published by Bantam Books in the paperback collection Conan the Swordsman in August 1978, and was reprinted in the anthology The Year's Best Fantasy Stories: 5 (DAW Books, 1980) and later editions of Conan the Swordsman (Ace Books, 1987 and 1991, Tor Books (first hardcover edition), 2002). The collection has also been translated into Italian, and was later gathered together with Conan the Liberator and Conan and the Spider God into the omnibus collection Sagas of Conan (Tor Books, 2004).

Plot summary[edit]

Conan, as second mate of Gonzago's freebooters, participates in a shore party to a nameless island off the kingdom of Stygia to steal a magic gem of the Stygian sorcerer Siptah. The expedition immediately goes wrong, with its own magician Mena and Gonzago himself both killed. Conan is left in command to battle Siptah's winged demon and learn the secret of the sorcerer's tower.


The story was adapted by Roy Thomas, John Buscema and Tony DeZuniga in Savage Sword of Conan #45, October 1979.


  1. ^ Holmes, Morgan. "The de Camp Controversy: Part 12", 4 October 2008. Accessed 9 June 2009


Preceded by
"Drums of Tombalku"
Complete Conan Saga
(William Galen Gray chronology)
Succeeded by
Conan and the Grim Grey God