Conan the Defiant

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Conan the Defiant
Conan the Defiant.jpg
Cover of first edition
Author Steve Perry
Country United States
Language English
Series Conan the Barbarian
Genre Sword and sorcery
Publisher Tor Books
Publication date
Media type Print (Paperback)
Pages 245 pp
ISBN 0-8125-4264-9

Conan the Defiant is a fantasy novel by American writer Steve Perry, featuring Robert E. Howard's sword and sorcery hero Conan the Barbarian. It was first published in trade paperback by Tor Books in October 1987, with a regular paperback edition issued simultaneously by the same publisher, and was reprinted in August 1988. A British edition was published in paperback by Orbit Books in January 1990.[1]


Conan falls in with Cengh, a priest of the Suddah Oblates who is conveying the jewel known as the Source of Light back to his temple. Unfortunately, the talisman is coveted by necromancer Neg the Malefic, master of zombies, who schemes to employ the jewel to raise the dead as an army of conquest. When an agent of Neg kills the priest and takes the jewel, Conan seeks seeks vengeance for his friend. Joining with the warrior woman Elashi and the beautiful truant zombie Tuanne, Conan tracks the murderer back to the sorcerer. They overcome numerous menaces on the journey to Neg's stronghold, including the Men With No Eyes, henchmen of the One With No Name, and a horde of spiders. Finally Conan faces and kills both his quarry and Neg himself.


Internal evidence indicates that Perry's later Conan work Conan the Indomitable directly follows this novel, though in the comprehensive Conan chronology of William Galen Gray, Sean A. Moore's Conan the Hunter is placed between the two books.


Writing on one of Perry's other novels, reviewer Ryan Harvey assessed the author's Conan corpus as "goofy," noting that he "has a reputation among Conan fandom for overkill and general silliness." Ryan does rate this book above Perry's later novel Conan the Free Lance.[2]

Reviewer Lagomorph Rex, noting that "Steve Perry isn't the most well regarded of the Conan writers," writes "I see why now." He calls the novel "an odd one." It being "the second of [his] Conan stories, ... I can't really give it much of a pass for him not knowing what he was working with. Had it been his first effort, I'd have been more forgiving." He singles out for criticism "Conan being presented as a necrophiliac" ("just ... bizarre") and his "ability to speak to everyone ... with seemingly no language gap," and Perry's "really weak spot," "his names." On the plus side, he sees "nothing particularly wrong with [Perry's] writing style," assessed as "very light with a good amount of humour in it." The humor is rated favorably in comparison to that in the Conan stories of L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter, though overall he feels that Perry's Conan stories make the de Camp/Carter efforts "look better by comparison." He reaches two conclusions: "All in all it wasn't a bad story, but it wasn't a great Conan story," and "If it wasn't for the language and sexual overtones I'd say this would have been a pretty darn good Conan Young Adult Novel." Out of a possible five star rating, he assigns it two.[3]

Bob Byrne calls the story "rather linear," but "an okay read. There is enough tension throughout, with the time element constantly in play and moving things along." Noting that "[t]here is no shortage of foes in this tale," with "more than enough bad guys at every step of the way," he does find it "surprising how often Conan finds time to have sex with his two traveling partners." He finds the zombie sex angle noteworthy but not apparently disturbing. On the other hand, "[t]he final confrontation with Neg is a bit of a let down and I had to read it a second time, as it didn’t quite make sense on the first try. I’m still not sure it did the second time, either." Still, Byrne considers the book "worth reading for fans of the muscle-bound sword swinger. On its own merits, it is not a bad heroic sorcery tale."[4]

Don D'Ammassa writes of the book that "Perry's version of the Hyborian world is rather darker than is portrayed in most other pastiches, and he always tells a good story."[5]



Preceded by
Conan the Champion
Tor Conan series
(publication order)
Succeeded by
Conan the Marauder
Preceded by
"The Thing in the Crypt"
Complete Conan Saga
(William Galen Gray chronology)
Succeeded by
Conan the Hunter