Conan the Mercenary

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Conan the Mercenary
Conan the Mercenary.jpg
Cover of first edition
Author Andrew J. Offutt
Illustrator Esteban Maroto
Cover artist Sanjulián
Country United States
Language English
Series Conan the Barbarian
Genre Sword and sorcery
Publisher Ace Books
Publication date
ISBN 0-441-11659-0

Conan the Mercenary is a fantasy novel written by American writer Andrew J. Offutt and illustrated by Esteban Maroto featuring Robert E. Howard's sword and sorcery hero Conan the Barbarian, the second volume in a trilogy beginning with Conan and the Sorcerer and concluding with The Sword of Skelos. It was first published in paperback by Ace Books in 1980,[1] with an official publication date of January 1981.[1][2] Ace reprinted the novel in April 1983, and issued a trade paperback edition in 1985. The first British edition was published by Sphere Books in July 1989.[2]


A young Conan finds himself involved in plots against the throne of Khauran. After saving Lady Khashtris from an attack by Shadizar's thieves and some traitorous henchmen, Conan agrees to work as her bodyguard in return for his soul being freed from the mirror it has been trapped in since Conan's encounter with Hissar Zul. Conan's soul can only be freed by one of noble birth, and Khashtris convinces Conan that her sister, Queen Ialamis, will free him.

Unknown to Conan, the Queen, and Khashtris, the Queen's new paramour, Sergianus, is actually a disguised Sabaninus, the elderly Duke of Korveka, a Kothian province that wishes to annex Khauran. The disguise is revealed when the Queen breaks the mirror containing Conan's soul; as his soul re-enters his body, Conan sees the Duke for who he really is. Conan, Lady Khashtris, and her loyal bodyguard Shubal, then plot to unmask the Duke and save Khauran.

Ialamis is also the mother of Salome and Taramis, who feature prominently in Howard's Conan tale, "A Witch Shall Be Born."


Critic Don D'Ammassa calls the novel "[r]ather slow moving.."[3]


The story was adapted by Roy Thomas and Esteban Maroto in issues #217-218, cover-dated January–February 1994, of the Marvel Comics magazine series The Savage Sword of Conan. The Thomas/Maroto tale was later reprinted in the 2016 Dark Horse Comics trade paperback The Savage Sword of Conan Volume 21.


  1. ^ a b Conan the Mercenary, 1st ed., Ace Books, 1981, c1980, title page verso.
  2. ^ a b Conan the Mercenary title listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
  3. ^ D'Ammassa, Don. "Conan the Mercenary" (review on Critical Mass). Oct. 19, 2017.


Preceded by
The Treasure of Tranicos
Ace Maroto Conan series
(publication order)
Succeeded by
The Flame Knife
Preceded by
Conan and the Sorcerer
Complete Conan Saga
(William Galen Gray chronology)
Succeeded by
The Sword of Skelos