The Devil in Iron

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"The Devil in Iron"
Weird Tales 1934-08 - The Devil in Iron.jpg
Cover for Weird Tales, August 1934.
Art by Margaret Brundage
Author Robert E. Howard
Country United States
Language English
Series Conan the Cimmerian
Genre(s) Fantasy
Published in Weird Tales
Publication type Pulp magazine
Publisher Rural Publishing Corporation
Publication date August 1934
Preceded by "Queen of the Black Coast"
Followed by "The People of the Black Circle"

"The Devil in Iron" is one of the original stories by Robert E. Howard about Conan the Cimmerian, first published in Weird Tales in August 1934. Howard earned $115 for the publication of this story.[1]

The plot concerns the resurrection of a mythical demon due to the theft of a sacred dagger, and an unrelated trap that lures Conan to the island fortress roamed by the demon. Due to its plot loopholes and borrowed elements from "Iron Shadows in the Moon", some Howard scholars claim this story is the weakest of the early Conan tales.[2]

Plot summary[edit]

In "The Devil in Iron," an ancient demon, Khosatral Khel, is awakened on the remote island of Xapur due to the meddling of a greedy fisherman. Upon reawakening, Khel resurrects the ancient fortress which once dominated the island, including its cyclopean walls, gigantic pythons, and long-dead citizens.

Meanwhile, Conan — a leader of the Vilayet kozaks — is tricked by the villainous Turan governor Jehungir Agha into pursuing the lovely Octavia to the island of Xapur. Jehungir Agha plans for Conan to fall into a prepared trap on the island. The unforeseen resurrection of the island demon and its ancient fortress, however, interrupts these plans.

When Conan arrives on Xapur, he must defeat not only the forces of the Agha led by Jelal Khan, but a giant serpent as well, and the iron-fleshed monstrosity that is Khosatral Khel.

Publication history[edit]

The Devil in Iron was first published in the August 1934 issue of Weird Tales. The story was republished in the collections Conan the Barbarian (Gnome Press, 1954) and Conan the Wanderer (Lancer Books, 1968). It has more recently been published in the collections The Conan Chronicles Volume 1: The People of the Black Circle (Gollancz, 2000) and Conan of Cimmeria: Volume One (1932-1933) (Del Rey, 2003).


The story was adapted by Roy Thomas, John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala in Savage Sword of Conan #15.


  1. ^ REHupa Fiction Timeline, retrieved 30 August 2012
  2. ^ Patrice Louinet. Hyborian Genesis: Part 1, page 452, The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian; 2003, Del Rey.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Queen of the Black Coast"
Original Howard Canon
(publication order)
Succeeded by
"The People of the Black Circle"
Preceded by
"A Witch Shall be Born"
Original Howard Canon
(Dale Rippke chronology)
Succeeded by
"The People of the Black Circle"
Preceded by
Conan and the Amazon
Complete Conan Saga
(William Galen Gray chronology)
Succeeded by
"The Flame Knife"