Conan of Venarium
Cover of first edition
|Cover artist||Julie Bell|
|Series||Conan the Barbarian|
|Genre||Sword and sorcery|
|Media type||Print (hardcover)|
Conan of Venarium is a fantasy novel by American writer Harry Turtledove, edited by Teresa Nielsen Hayden, featuring Robert E. Howard's sword and sorcery hero Conan the Barbarian. It was first published in hardcover by Tor Books in July 2003; a regular paperback edition followed from the same publisher in July 2004.
According to the table of contents the book includes a listing of "The Conan Novels in Chronological Order" at the end of the text; however, at least in the paperback edition, the list provided includes only Conan novels published by Tor and is not chronological, either in terms of content or publication.
The Aquilonian Empire, bent on expansion, invades southern Cimmeria, occupying a number of villages and building the armed encampment of Fort Venarium to keep them pacified. The Cimmerian villagers, including young Conan's family, bear the Aquilonian yoke resentfully but stoically. Conan himself, a boy of twelve, is kept down as much by his overbearing blacksmith father as the invaders. Conflict builds as Count Stercus, the occupiers' lecherous commander, seizes the weaver's daughter Tarla, whom Conan also admires. Both she and his parents perish during the tensions. Eventually he joins the force of northern Cimmerians gathering to drive out the Aquilonians, participating in the sack of Venarium and the warriors' subsequent vengeful drive south into Aquilonia. Unusually for a Conan story, the supernatural is relatively absent, confined largely to appearances of a demonic bird and an enormous serpent, and a seer's foretelling of Conan's destiny, which in the manner common to such prophecies, the youth misinterprets.
Roland Green of Booklist, himself an author of earlier Conan novels, wrote "Among Conan's many limners, Turtledove distinguishes himself with an unmatched portrait of Cimmerian society and a fine, intelligent characterization of the young barbarian."
Jackie Cassada of the Library Journal called the book "[a] good addition to libraries' Conan novels."
Publishers Weekly wrote "Turtledove ... attempts to inject some life into the well-trod Conan sequel subgenre, but this coming-of-age story of Robert E. Howard's barbarian hero is, alas, just as commonplace as all the other imitations by the late Lin Carter and company. ... The fantasy elements are disappointingly few ... Only Conan diehards and Turtledove completists will be likely to pick up this sword-with-little-sorcery novel."
Kirkus Reviews noted merely that "Turtledove opens on familiar gritty prehistoric territory" and that the book had a "[l]ocked-in audience."
Don D'Ammassa calls this novel, "Turtledove's only Conan pastiche," "much more focused than the author's sprawling alternate history stories and the result is a fast paced and quite good barbarian fantasy that does a better than average job of capturing the atmosphere of Howard's original series." He notes that "Conan's youth in Cimmeria has been chronicled a couple of times before, though briefly and with contradictions. This is a much longer version but it also contradicts the others." He also observes that "Turtledove'[s] Conan is more nuanced but also more hotheaded."
- Conan of Venarium title listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- Booklist, v. 99, no. 22, August 2003, p. 1969.
- Library Journal, v. 128, August 2003, p. 142.
- Publishers Weekly, 2003, as reproduced on Amazon.com.
- Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2003.
- D'Ammassa, Don. "Conan the Valorous" (review on Critical Mass). Nov. 15, 2017.
- D'Ammassa, Don. "Conan of Venarium" (review on Critical Mass). 2003.
Conan and the Death Lord of Thanza
|Tor Conan series
Conan the Barbarian (2011 novel)
|Complete Conan Saga
(William Galen Gray chronology)
"Legions of the Dead"