The Hour of the Dragon: Conan by Robert E. Howard
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
When you think of Conan you think of this...
Then you think of the screaming barbarian...
Whoops, sorry, I meant this...
But if you read one of Robert Howard's original Conan the Barbarian stories what you get is something that should be titled Conan the Part-Time Barbarian, Part-Time Diplomat, because there is WAY more talk and politics than expected.
What did I expect? I thought I'd get more fighting, more monsters and just more action in general. What I got was a whole lotta this *makes talking motion with hand*.
I expected bad writing and I got some of that. In fact, it was laughingly bad in places. However, on the whole, it wasn't bad as I feared. And I have to hand it to Howard, who may not go down in the annals as the best historical fiction writer of all time, but it's obvious he did do some research and included some nice little details about mythology, ancient tribes, past strategical war practices, and other old timey crap.
In The Hour of the Dragon (Spoiler/Warning-->) (view spoiler)[There's no goddamned dragon in this (hide spoiler)] Conan is pitted against a trio of power-hungry baddies who elicit the help of an evil sorcerer from the past in order to take over the land. Conan must fight to regain his kingdom.
Here's something I didn't expect: a lot of world-building by Howard. He names this and that, populating the aforementioned "land" with kingdoms and peoples, valleys and rivers, cities and castles, and yet, it somehow all feels false, tossed off somehow. I wasn't buying into it.
Because so much time is wasted with what feels like inconsequential world-building, in exposition, with characters talking about so-and-so and whosits, the story and action bogs down. I was able and willing to put this book down numerous times in order to take up others. That's not a good sign. I'm giving this 3 stars, because I didn't hate it. I just felt let down by it.
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