Conan and the Spider God
Cover of first edition
|Author||L. Sprague de Camp|
|Series||Conan the Barbarian|
|Genre||Sword and sorcery|
|Media type||Print (Paperback)|
Conan and the Spider God is a fantasy novel by American writer L. Sprague de Camp featuring Robert E. Howard's sword and sorcery hero Conan the Barbarian. It was first published in paperback by Bantam Books in December 1980; later paperback editions were issued by Ace Books (April 1989, reprinted August 1991) and Tor Books (June 2003). The first hardcover edition was issued by Robert Hale in 1984, and the second by Tor Books in 2002. It was later gathered together with Conan the Swordsman and Conan the Liberator into the omnibus trade paperback collection Sagas of Conan (Tor Books, 2004).
Conan and the Spider God is the only fictional Conan work credited solely to de Camp; his other Conan stories being collaborations with Howard (posthumously), Lin Carter, and Björn Nyberg. De Camp also wrote numerous non-fiction pieces about Conan and Howard, both alone and with others.
Conan finds himself in the kingdom of Zamora, a fugitive under suspicion of kidnapping Jamilah, the wife of the king of Turan. Discovering she has actually been taken by devotees of the Zamoran spider god Zath, he sets out for the city of Yezud (first mentioned in the Howard story "The People of the Black Circle") to rescue the captive, and incidentally steal the opals set as eyes in the god's temple image.
Characteristically, de Camp's Conan is a more credible if less elemental figure than Howard's, carefully assessing the situation in Yezud and taking the time and effort to lay the groundwork for his foray rather than just barreling in swinging his sword.
Publishers Weekly briefly noted the appearance of the Tor hardcover, commenting that it offered "more dramatic adventures of Robert E. Howard's blue-eyed, broad-shoulder, sword-wielding hero" with "an epic battle" ensuing in the spider-god's temple.
Ryan Harvey, in a more in-depth review, considers de Camp "a fine writer, but ... not adept at sword and sorcery." He takes issue with "de Camp's ... rationalized approach to Conan's barbarism," in which "Conan spends a great deal of time thinking and reasoning through problems and speculating on choices," which "deprives the character of his primal instinctiveness and makes him seem inordinately civilized." He also feels that "the action stalls when Conan arrives in the city of Yezud and stays there," after which "the story turns into an unconnected array of scenes of characters milling about in taverns and arguing. Conan has murky motivations, and therefore the plot never moves along a direct or interesting line of action." Harvey also scores de Camp for his use of "plot tokens" and "overtaxed faux archaic prose." On the plus side, he notes that "[t]he long-foreshadowed encounter with the super spider does have a feverish intensity" but "it fails to build to the proper conclusion," and "[t]he finale of the novel whimpers to a close."
Reviewer Lagomorph Rex finds the novel "pretty bad ... not Steve Perry bad, but ... not really even up to DeCamp's normal standards." He feels "Conan acts nearly completely out of character during this entire book" and considers it [l]ike most of DeCamp's pastiches ... really ... just ... very mediocre." Elsewhere he calls it "one of the more atrocious of the novels I've ... read."
Marvel also published a follow up story in a three issue mini-series called Conan: The Lord of the Spiders in 1998.
- Conan and the Spider God title listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- Laughlin, Charlotte; Daniel J. H. Levack (1983). De Camp: An L. Sprague de Camp Bibliography. San Francisco: Underwood/Miller. p. 36.
- "SF/Fantasy/Horror NOTES: February Publications" (Review). In Publishers Weekly, v. 249, no. 3, January 21, 2002, p. 70.
- Harvey, Ryan. "Conan and the Spider God" (Review), February 21, 2005.
- Lagomorph Rex. "Hyborean Apocrphya: Conan and the Spider-god" (Review), August 6, 2011.
- Lagomorph Rex. "Hyborean Apocrphya: Conan the Valiant" (Review), July 31, 2011.
- Grand Comics Database entry for The Savage Sword of Conan #207 (March 1993)
- Grand Comics Database entry for The Savage Sword of Conan #208 (April 1993)
- Grand Comics Database entry for The Savage Sword of Conan #209 (May 1993)
- Grand Comics Database entry for The Savage Sword of Conan #210 (June 1993)
- Grand Comics Database entry for Conan: The Lord of the Spiders
Conan the Rebel
|Bantam Conan series
Conan the Barbarian
Conan the Valiant
|Complete Conan Saga
(William Galen Gray chronology)
"The Blood-Stained God"