Wednesday, April 17, 2013


book cover Original Publication Date: 1934

Genre: fantasy

Topics: (pseudo)historical, magic, love, adventure

Review by heidenkind:

When the King of Vendyha is assassinated by the Black Seers of Yimsha, his sister Devi Yasmina is determined to seek vengeance. To that end, she wants to bribe Conan the Barbarian into hunting the seers down, but Conan ain't having none of that. Instead, he kidnaps the Devi like a boss and plans to use her as a hostage. But with a whole host of other people chasing after the Devi for their own ends, Conan's bound to get mixed up in her problems.

This book is pretty awesome. Basically I love everything about it: I love the cover, Conan, the story, the exotic setting, Yasmina, the over-the-top writing style, and the magic elements. But most of all I really love Conan. Eons back I watched maybe ten minutes' worth of Conan the Barbarian--the one with Arnold Schwarzenegger--and based on that movie I started The People of the Black Circle thinking Conan would be the stupidest, most uninteresting hero since Hercules. He isn't! He's actually really smart and dashing and very alpha-male-a-la-romancelandia. In fact, the whole book reminded me of a really kick-ass romance novel. Conan and Yasmina have some crazy chemistry going on; it's pretty hot. Here's my favorite passage from the book:

His wild blood had been stirred to its uttermost by all that had passed. He caught her to him in a grasp that would have made her wince at another time, and crushed her lips with his. She made no resistance; the Devi was drowned in the elemental woman. She closed her eyes and drank in his fierce, hot, lawless kisses with all the abandon of passionate thirst.

Haha! Okay, that's pretty pulpy. But I totally love it because I just knew that at some point there would be the crushing of lips and the lawless kisses.

Naturally I focus on the romance, but most of the story has to do with all the magicians out to get the Devi, and it is GREAT. There is so much delicious double-crossing and plotting going on. I sometimes get annoyed by stuff like that, but since it all focuses on the Devi, it enhances rather than distracts from the story. Also, Conan, who's very much removed from the court politics driving the plot, serves as a stabilizing force in the book. His needs and wants are pretty straight-forward and simple to understand, which was a much-needed balance to every other character.

So basically I was super-pleasantly surprised by The People of the Black Circle, and have subsequently downloaded ALL the Robert E. Howard books. I haven't been this excited about an author since I read The Man in Lower Ten by Mary Roberts Rinehart. If you like Edgar Rice Burroughs or romances with alpha heroes, I think you definitely want to read this one. It's really such a blast.

Download The People of the Black Circle by Robert E. Howard at Project Gutenberg|Librivox