Saturday, May 18, 2013

Book Review: The Savage Sword of Conan, Volume 1

Wow!  It's been over two weeks since my last post.  Sorry folks.  I've been--and still am--in the process of moving, so my posting rate has slowed as a result.
Despite my relocation activities, I did manage to finish at least one book in order to provide some blog fodder for this month, which happens to be:  The Savage Sword of Conan, Volume 1
This tome, weighing-in at 544 pages, is actually a compilation tales from numerous issues of the Savage Sword of Conan comics, that were popular in the '70s and published by a  Marvel Comics imprint. 
Stories include such classics as The Frost-Giant's Daughter and A Witch Shall be Born, both derived from Robert E. Howard's original works.
(Image:  A Frank Frazetta classic!)
As a compendium, it has been well received; earning 35 x 5-star and 13 x 4-star reviews, out of 54 on  Six low-scoring reviews are evenly divided between 3, 2 and 1-stars. Their main complaints are:  Stories being mere black & white retreads of the '70s-vintage comics, instead of being given the full-color treatment; while the pages are compressed from magazine-size, down to book-size.
While I can see their point, I didn't have a problem with these issues and will give this book a 4-star rating.  It seems that most (all?) the other reviewers were fans of the original Savage Sword comics, back in it's heyday.  I certainly remember them, but only picked up an occasional issue, so I don't feel cheated by reading a re-hashed story.
Plus--I admit it--I've been a Conan fan since I first gazed upon a Frazetta book cover.
Fandom aside, if you're thinking of obtaining this tome, I think Amazon Reviewer, A. Larson has the best advice:
Basically, Savage Sword of Conan is a great read, as long as you only read one or two stories, put the book down, go do something else for two weeks, come back, and read a couple more...the problem is all the stories are out of order chronologically, and they basically repeat the same patterns: Conan meets hot chick (usually a different one every time) who doesn't like Conan at first, fights some monsters or warriors or wizard bent on destruction, hot chick is captured, Conan defeats evil and saves hot chick, hot chick falls head over heels for our beefy warlord, and like James Bond, the story closes with them about to do the nasty. Oh, and there's an occassional magical relic.

Therefore, the stories can get very formulatic and its difficult to get excited from one story to the next if you read a lot of them at once. There is barely any character development with Conan, and with no continuing storylines, there are no other characters to care about.

In closing, this book is very good in small spurts.
So remember, if you need a shot of escapist fantasy, The Savage Sword of Conan is best administered in low dosages.


DeanM said...

Nice scores there, Ted. I managed to pick up some WHFB Empire books at the Tacoma Half Price Books last week. Best, Dean

Ted Henkle said...

Thanks Dean! I have several WHFB books myself, but no armies yet.