Conan and the Spider God

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Conan and the Spider God
Conan and the Spider God.jpg
Cover of first edition
Author L. Sprague de Camp
Illustrator Tim Kirk
Country United States
Language English
Series Conan the Barbarian
Genre Sword and sorcery
Publisher Bantam Books
Publication date
Media type Print (Paperback)
Pages 175 pp
ISBN 0-553-13837-5
OCLC 7052128

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;[1][2] 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).[1]

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.[2] De Camp also wrote numerous non-fiction pieces about Conan and Howard, both alone and with others.

Plot summary[edit]

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.

Chronologically, Conan and the Spider God comes between the short stories "The Curse of the Monolith" and "The Blood-Stained God".[2]


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.[3]

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."[4]

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."[5] Elsewhere he calls it "one of the more atrocious of the novels I've ... read."[6]

Comic adaptations[edit]

Marvel Comics published a comic adaptation of the book in issues 207-210 of the black and white comic magazine The Savage Sword of Conan in 1993.[7][8][9][10]

Marvel also published a follow up story in a three issue mini-series called Conan: The Lord of the Spiders in 1998.[11]



Preceded by
Conan the Rebel
Bantam Conan series
(publication order)
Succeeded by
Conan the Barbarian
Preceded by
Conan the Valiant
Complete Conan Saga
(William Galen Gray chronology)
Succeeded by
"The Blood-Stained God"