Conan the Gladiator
Cover of first edition
|Cover artist||Ken Kelly|
|Series||Conan the Barbarian|
|Genre||Sword and sorcery|
|Media type||Print (Paperback)|
Conan the Gladiator is a fantasy novel by American writer Leonard Carpenter, featuring Robert E. Howard's sword and sorcery hero Conan the Barbarian. It was first published in paperback by Tor Books in January 1995 and was reprinted in August 1999. Carpenter dedicated the book to L. Sprague de Camp.
In the town of Thujara in Shem, Conan becomes involved in a street brawl, in which he injures one Roganthus, the strong man of a traveling circus troupe. A combination of regret over the troupe's loss and attraction for another member, the beautiful panther-trainer Sathilda, leads him to offer his own services as a stand-in for Roganthus. Joining the troupe, he accompanies it first to the town of Senjaj and then across the river Styx to Stygia, where it hopes to become wealthy performing in the capital of Luxor. Stygia is usually depicted as a realm of decadent evil, crawling with sinister priests and sorcerers; in this novel, however, the local priests of Set are portrayed more as a fraternity of knowledge-seekers. Unfortunately, Luxor is lorded over by the tyrannical emperor Commodorus, who condemns Conan's troupe to fight for their lives in the arena against exotic warriors and wild beasts. Conan is disturbed at having to kill opponents with whom he feels some affinity, such as rebel Stygians and the Kushite Muzudaya, and is temporarily converted by a priest and fellow captive to an uncharacteristic pacifism. Exercising his military knowledge, he forms his fellow gladiators into a defensive phalanx at one point. The plot, seemingly building to a climactic final battle, is instead resolved by a catastrophic natural disaster, in the course of which Commodorus meets a fitting fate and much of Luxor devastated. In the wake of this event Conan returns to Shem seeking different employment.
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