Black Sphinx of Nebthu

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This article is about a short story. For the protagonist and principal character, see Conan the Barbarian.
"Black Sphinx of Nebthu"
Black Sphinx of Nebthu.jpg
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 of Aquilonia
Publication type Collection
Publisher Ace Books
Media type Print (Paperback)
Publication date 1977

"Black Sphinx of Nebthu" 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 was first published in the July 1973 issue of the magazine Fantastic, and was first appeared in book form by Ace Books in the paperback collection Conan of Aquilonia in May 1977, which was reprinted several timesthrough 1994. The first British edition was published by Sphere Books in October 1978.

Plot summary[edit]

In the wake of the events of "The Witch of the Mists," King Conan of Aquilonia leads a military expedition overland through Zingara, Argos and Shem to Stygia to confront his arch-enemy, the sorcerer Thoth-Amon. Accompanying him are his son Prince Conn, his right-hand men Trocero and Pallantides, and Diviatix, a White Druid from Pictland, who promises divine support for Conan.

The goal of the expedition is the ancient ruin of Nebthu, site of the massive sphinx depicting the hyena god of Chaos and reputed haunt of the sorcerers of the Black Ring. Forcing an entrance into the sphinx, Conan descends into the earth, reaching a vast chamber where he confronts the massed assembly of wizards.

Thoth-Amon and his fellows initially bring all their power to bear and prove too powerful for Conan. But Conan had taken the precaution of bringing along the powerful magical jewel known as the Heart of Ahriman (with whose help Conan had regained his throne in The Hour of the Dragon) With it in his hand, Conan's Pictish ally is more than a match for the Stygians.

Many of the wizards are killed or driven mad by the Heart's powers, but Thoth-Amon is still able to unleash the monstrous hyena of Chaos against Conan's host. Unfortunately for him, the hell-hound is incapable of fine discrimination. The first army it encounters, and therefore destroys, is that of Stygia. His sanctum in ruins and now persona non grata in his own country, Thoth-Amon is forced to flee, seeking refuge with his last remaining magical ally - the King of the Black Kingdom of Zembabwei.

Rather than rest content and return to Aquilonia, Conan is determined to settle accounts once and for all and take his army in pursuit to the heart of what would once be called Africa.

References[edit]

Preceded by
"The Witch of the Mists"
Complete Conan Saga
(William Galen Gray chronology)
Succeeded by
"Red Moon of Zembabwei"