The Thurian Age is a specific epoch in the fictional timeline used by Robert E. Howard in his Kull stories. It predates the Hyborian Age of the Conan the Barbarian stories and is known to them as the Pre-Cataclysmic Age. The main continent is called Thuria, although smaller continents such as Atlantis and an unnamed Eastern continent exist, as do several island chains. Most of the planet is unexplored wilderness inhabited by "scattered clans and tribes of primitive savages." The boundary between the two ages is marked by the "Great Cataclysm," which might have taken place as early as ca. 35,000 to 40,000 B.C, or as recently as 18,000 B.C. depending on the sources considered. When Robert E. Howard began to chronicle the adventures of Conan the Cimmerian, in the early 1930s, he prepared a fictional history of the Hyborian Age which he had created. That "history" dealt not only with the period during and after Conan's life, but also with events some eight thousand years earlier, during the Thurian civilization which produced King Kull, exiled warrior of Atlantis in the days before that continent sank into the surging seas.
A great cataclysm ends the Thurian Age some time after the Kull stories. Several countries sink into the sea, others rise from it, and the rest is devastated by earthquakes and volcanoes. Civilization is destroyed and the survivors attempt to build a new culture but warfare and a Lesser Cataclysm strike, creating the Hyborian Vilayet Sea and destroying any last remnants of Thurian society.
Six kingdoms dominate the main continent of Thuria. All share a common language and possibly a common origin. East of these kingdoms is a vast desert. The six kingdoms are all part of the "Seven Empires" although the seventh member is never named.
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They are described as having wars with Valusia but it does not appear in the Kull stories.
The kingdom furthest to the east of the Thurian continent, bordering the eastern desert. Its people are less cultured than those of the other kingdoms.
In an untitled draft in Kull- Exile of Atlantis, Grondar is 1) described as being east of Zarfhaana and having a wasteland, 2) occasionally sending out raiders into the grass savannah that separates it from its western neighbors, 3) Thurania is a named target of these raids, 4) the ancestors of the Grondarans came from somewhere unknown and defeated an older people who inhabited the land now known as Grondar (the remains of the original inhabitants' cities lie in the grass savanah between Grondar and the western kingdoms), and 5) hinted that Grondar didn't have cities similar to those of the west.
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The name Thule comes from Classical mythology (or pseudo-geography). First described by Greek explorer Pytheas, it is a mysterious land to the north. It has been associated with Scandinavia and Iceland.
The kingdom furthest to the west of the Thurian continent. It was created and initially ruled by Serpent Men until they were overthrown by their human slaves. They attempted to control new human kingdom of Valusia from behind the scenes, using illusionary magic, when mankind's memories of the past wars faded but they were again defeated in a secret war. Finally they created a religion, the Snake Cult, to do the same thing again and almost succeeded. Their power was, however, eventually destroyed by Kull, an Atlantean barbarian who had gained the crown of Valusia by force.
Kull notes, in The Shadow Kingdom that the Valusia of his time is a "fading, degenerate" country, "living mostly in dreams of bygone glory, but still a mighty land and the greatest of the Seven Empires". The kingdom is already ancient by his standards: "The hills of Atlantis and Mu were isles of the sea when Valusia was young."
There are three main barbarian societies in the Thurian Age.
A small continent to the west of Thuria and east of the Pictish Islands. They have colonies on Thuria itself.
Atlantis is an old enemy of the "Seven Empires" (see Dominant Kingdoms) of Thuria and has an even more ingrained enmity of the Picts.
Following the cataclysm that destroys the Thurian Age, Atlantis sinks beneath the sea. The survivors on the Thurian continent are forced back into the stone age by lack of resources but become skilled in this medium and develop an artistic culture. They soon enter a war with the surviving Picts and lose to their superior numbers and stone-age military technology. The survivors of the war devolve back into apes. They eventually re-evolve into humans to become the Cimmerians of the Hyborian Age. In turn the Cimmerians become the Celts, Gaels and Scythians of modern, real world, history.
Lemuria is a chain of large islands east of Thuria.
Following the cataclysm that ended the Thurian age, these islands sank into the sea. The surviving Lemurians escaped to the east coast of the Thurian continent but were enslaved by an unnamed pre-human race. After enduring more than a thousand years of brutal slavery, the Lemurians were reduced to a state of savagery. They eventually rose up and destroyed their masters, the survivors of whom escaped to the south of Thuria to form the nation of Stygia.
The Lemurians eventually became the Hyrkanians of the Hyborian Age and formed the country of Turan on the edge of the Vilayet Sea. The Hyrkanians played a part in destroying the Hyborian civilisations some unspecified time after the Conan stories. The stories assert they eventually became the Tatars, Huns, Mongols, and Turks of the modern age.
A chain islands far to the west of Thuria and Atlantis. Due to raiding expeditions, they have colonies on Thuria itself. They have an ancient feud with the Atlanteans.
After the cataclysm, the Pictish Islands rose to form the mountains of what would be the Americas. The Picts of the islands would become the Native Americans. The Picts of Thuria fell further into barbarism but remained stable, neither evolving or devolving as other societies had. At first their society held, despite reverting to the stone age, but a war with the surviving Atlanteans halted any advances they would have made. They would become the savage Picts of the Pictish Wilderness on the west coast of the Hyborian realms in the Conan the Barbarian stories and the more degenerate Picts of Britain in the Bran Mak Morn stories and real history.
Pulp fiction author Robert E. Howard wrote extensively about his romanticized version of the Picts, especially in his short stories revolving around the fictitious character Bran Mak Morn, but also in many other of his stories. Howard's contemporary and friend, horror writer H.P. Lovecraft references Bran Mak Morn in his short story "The Whisperer in Darkness". Rudyard Kipling, author of The Jungle Book devotes several chapters to the Picts in his book, Puck of Pook's Hill. Historical fantasy author Juliet Marillier's series, The Bridei Chronicles, tells of the Picts and Gaels in the sixth century A.D. Nancy Farmer's book The Sea of Trolls, depicts fictional Picts. Anne Rice also wrote of fictional Picts, crafting them into the Taltos for her book series The Lives of the Mayfair Witches. The 2004 film King Arthur depicts the Picts (called "Woads" in the film) as tattooed and painted savage forest people, led by the dark magician Merlin. Originally enemies to Arthur and his knights, they later unite to defeat the Saxons at Badon Hill. Neil Marshall's 2010 film Centurion features a conflict between a band of Picts and the Roman Ninth Legion
Another mysterious kingdom lies on the east coast of the Thurian continent. They have some contact with Lemuria but come from another continent entirely to the east of the Lemurian islands.
An untitled draft in the "Kull of Atlantis" stories mentions 3 other nations: Farsun (enemy of Thurania, described as west of Valusia), Zarfhaana (east of Valusia, the Camoonian Desert separates the two and there is a sea to the north of Zarfhaana), and Thurania (south of Zarfhaana, enemy of Farsun).
There are other "equally civilized" but non-human kingdoms. The citizens were of one or more older, pre-human races. One such mysterious pre-human civilization exists at the south of Thuria, this country is, at first, untouched by the Cataclysm. When the oppressors of the Lemurians are overthrown, however, the survivors escape to this region and destroy it in turn, creating the new country of Stygia.