Conan the Free Lance

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Conan the Free Lance
Conan the Free Lance.jpg
Cover of first edition
Author Steve Perry
Cover artist Kirk Reinert
Country United States
Language English
Series Conan the Barbarian
Genre Sword and sorcery
Publisher Tor Books
Publication date
Media type Print (Paperback)
Pages 279 pp
ISBN 0-8125-0690-1

Conan the Free Lance 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 paperback by Tor Books in February 1990. It was reprinted by Tor in December 1997.[1]


The evil wizard Dimma the Mist Mage suffers from a curse that has rendered his body insubstantial. As a mystical "Seed" held by the Tree Folk might restore him, he directs his enslaved selkies to steal it for him. Meanwhile, the young Conan, en route to Shadizar, had fallen in with the Tree Folk after rescuing their medicine woman, Cheen. He helps them fend off the selkies' attack, but not before one of them makes off with the Seed and takes Cheen's brother Hok hostage. Conan undertakes to aid the Tree Folk in recovering Hok and the Seed.


Reviewer Ryan Harvey considered Perry's Conan novels "goofy", noting that the author "has a reputation among Conan fandom for overkill and general silliness"—and Conan the Free Lance "won’t change anyone’s mind about Perry’s style." He rates it well below the author's previous novels Conan the Fearless and Conan the Defiant and feels the "one arena" in which it excels is in its brevity.[2]

Lagomorph Rex finds the novel "suffers from the same problems [of] the other Steve Perry [Conan] books, too many creatures which some how can talk, not to mention another obscenely large cast, at least a dozen characters and four story lines were running concurrently by chapter 3. It's simply too busy for such a short novel." He also observes that it "roughly follows the same storyline as the [previous] two [P]erry books," Conan the Defiant and Conan the Indomitable, "[m]agical object on the lo[o]se, multitude of different interested parties, huge cluster of competing story lines which all comes to a frothing spitting boil-over in the last 2 chapters." He also has problems with the depiction of the title character: "I don't really want to use the word Naive to describe Perry's Conan, but he does come across as being very much like a 15 year old ... game for just about whatever comes his way and ... not yet cynical enough to not want to help those who ask it of him." He finds a scene in which Conan is drugged and raped by the villainess Thayla "extremely revolting." On the positive side he notes "extensive references to the previous two Steve Perry books and "The Thing in the Crypt" which makes for a nice bit of continuity," that it "seems to serve a purpose," unlike its immediate predecessor Indomitable, and that it "has an especially ironic ending."[3]



Preceded by
Conan the Indomitable
Tor Conan series
(publication order)
Succeeded by
Conan the Formidable
Preceded by
Conan the Indomitable
Complete Conan Saga
(William Galen Gray chronology)
Succeeded by
Conan the Formidable