Thursday, 4 October 2012

Conan The Rebel

My son-in-law used to have several Discworld books on a shelf. When visiting, I would pick a book off the shelf, read a couple of pages and put it back without getting into it. Another book that I sampled in this way was Almuric by Robert E Howard. Apart from that, I have read no Howard.

The only Conan book that I have read is Conan The Rebel by Poul Anderson. This novel is one volume both of the Conan series and of Poul Anderson's Complete Works but I have read it only for the latter reason.

Notionally, if we were to read all of Anderson's heroic fantasy, historical fantasy, historical fiction, contemporary fiction and science fiction in chronological order of fictitious events (while remembering, of course, that Andersonian time is broad and deep as well as long so that there is no single linear chronology for all his works), then we would have to start with Conan The Rebel. It is the earliest, being set in a prehistoric civilisation.

However, it is not the book that we would recommend for anyone to start reading Anderson. His heroic fantasy began with The Broken Sword, which is chronologically preceded by Poul and Karen Anderson's Ys tetralogy and by other solo Anderson works, and his sf began with Brainwave which is contemporary, not futuristic, in setting.

Anderson very skilfully contributed to a number of series created by other authors. Having read his single Conan book only once immediately after purchasing it, I might reread it next after finishing The Dancer From Atlantis.

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