Conan the Invincible
cover of Conan the Invincible
|Series||Conan the Barbarian|
|Genre||Sword and sorcery Fantasy|
|Media type||Print (Paperback)|
Conan the Invincible is a fantasy novel written by Robert Jordan featuring Robert E. Howard's seminal sword and sorcery hero Conan the Barbarian. It was first published in paperback by Tor Books in June 1982 and reprinted in July 1990; a trade paperback edition followed from the same publisher in 1998. The first British edition was published in paperback by Sphere Books in September 1989; a later British edition was published in paperback by Legend Books in August 1996. It was later gathered together with Conan the Defender and Conan the Unconquered into the hardcover omnibus collection The Conan Chronicles (Tor Books, July 1995).
Amanar the Necromancer, in his lair in the Kezankian Mountains, sacrifices to his demonic patrons for protection against the Black Ring, a league of sorcerers he has betrayed. Meanwhile, in a Shadizar tavern, Conan mulls over prospects for his next theft, in between incidental quarrels with one woman and the rescue of another who fails to thank him. He is hired by a supposed merchant, actually Imhep-Aton, an agent of the Black Ring, to steal amulets in the possession of the King of Zamora. Imhep-Aton secretly intends to use these against Amanar.
The Cimmerian makes an attempt on the palace, but the heist immediately starts going bad. Then, oddly, he awakens back in the tavern with a hangover and a gap in his memory. He hears that a slave girl he encountered in the palace has the amulets and is headed east in a caravan. He sets out in pursuit, along with, unknown to him, the king's cavalry and Imhep-Aton, who assumes Conan himself has absconded with the goods.
At a desert oasis Conan saves a woman from bandits—the same, surprisingly, he had earlier aided in the tavern—and with her continues his pursuit of the caravan. He catches up to what he believes is it, only to have the woman reveal herself as the infamous raider Karela the Red Hawk, and the band he has discovered as hers. Karela's men fall on the Cimmerian and take him prisoner. Afterwards Conan's employer arrives and tried to buy him from them, but the Zamoran cavalry arrives before a bargain can be struck.
Karela's band retreats to the hills with their captive. Conan ingratiates himself with the raiders, and together they resume the pursuit of the caravan, while they themselves continue to be pursued by the Zamorans and the agent of the Black Ring. As it happens, the slave girl and amulets have already been spirited away by Amanar's reptiloid flunkies, who have now delivered them both to the necromancer. Things get more sorted out when Karela's band comes under attack by hillmen and the Zamorans, slip away to let their antagonists fight each other, and then come under attack again by Amanar's serpent men. Fighting them off, they track the reptiloids to Amanar's keep.
The necromancer attempts guile, entertaining Conan and Karela, disclaiming knowledge of the girl and the amulets, and offering to hire them. Conan, distrustful, returns by night and discovers the girl, but an enchantment prevents her from being removed from the stronghold. The Zamorans catch up to the raiders before he can try again, and in the confusion of the ensuing battle the serpent men take the Cimmerian. Imhep-Aton is also taken, and handed over to Amanar for sacrifice.
Conan ends up in Amanar's dungeon together with several others, including one of Karela's men and the Zamoran captain. Together they plan an escape. They make their break in time to see Imhep-Aton done to death by a creature summoned by Amanar, which goes berserk and turns on the necromancer, pulling down the castle around them. In the chaos Conan rescues the slave girl and beats a quick exit. Karela, who had gone over to Amanar, also gets away.
Afterwards Karela chances on Conan and his new paramour and proposes they join forces and assemble a new band. Conan has had his fill of her treacheries and declines.
Ryan Harvey calls this, Jordan's first Conan novel, an "excellent first venture into the Hyborian Age," as well as "pulpily exciting and one of the few pastiches from the Tor books that I recommend to people who normally avoid non-Howard Conan." He rates it above Conan the Defender, Jordan's second venture, which he considers "a lesser novel."
Reviewer Lagomorph Rex called Conan the Invincible "a bit of a slow book," that read together with other novels covering the same chronological period in Conan's life become "[h]ighly monotonous." He notes that "they all seem to start in Shadizar, or Arenjun, and then take Conan on these vast treks into the wilderness surrounding them [where he] slays a monster or a wizard and then goes back to the tavern." The upshot is that the reader will "likely be very tired of traveling in mountains and slaying sorcerers." He points out that "none of these books really upsets the status quo, none of them become integral to the story, and unlike the previous volumes [chronologically] from Perry, Carpenter, Offut, (sic) et all (sic), don't move the story forward." Observing that Robert Jordan later "became something of a master of the sideways divergence" he sees in these tales "the prototype of many of the divergences in the Wheel of Time books. Except in Conan's case he has no Waygates to travel through to cut out the walking." The reviewer also finds Karela "a rather obnoxious character," speculating that it "is almost as if Jordan wanted to use Red Sonja and was told he couldn't." In another place, the reviewer rates the book beneath Conan the Victorious, another of Jordan's Conan novels.
- Conan the Invincible title listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- Harvey, Ryan. "Pastiches ‘R’ Us: Conan the Defender" (Review), December 8, 2009.
- Lagomorph Rex. "14. Tor #1, Conan the Invincible by Robert Jordan. part 5". Hyborean Apocrypha. December 21, 2010.
- Lagomorph Rex. "20. Tor Conan # 7, Conan the Victorious by Robert Jordan. Part 5". Hyborean Apocrypha. May 19, 2011.
|Tor Conan series
Conan the Defender
Conan the Magnificent
|Complete Conan Saga
(William Galen Gray chronology)
"The Hall of the Dead"