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Read an Exclusive Excerpt From ‘Conan The Barbarian: The Official Motion Picture Adaptation’

The official adaptation of Conan the Barbarian, the seminal film written by John Milius and Oliver Stone, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Earl Jones. In the novel by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter, the Cimmerian youth Conan witnesses the death of his parents at the hands of Thulsa Doom, a priest of Set. Enslaved, he is trained as a gladiator. Gaining his freedom he allies with Subotai, a Hyrkanian archer, and a skilled swordswoman thief named Valeria. Together they raid the Tower of the Serpent, then Conan breaks away to seek the cult of Doom—and revenge on the sorcerer who leads it.

And thanks to our friends at Titan Books we have an exclusive excerpt from the book’s first chapter.


On a rocky ridge swept clear of snow, a man and a boy braced themselves against the fury of the storm. All about them, like a demon, the night wind howled.

Lightning rent the tortured sky, smiting rocks asunder and lashing the shuddering earth with a whip of fire. The man, burly and bearded like a troll, appeared in the fitful light to be of gigantic stature as he stood, legs apart, his massive frame wrapped in furs against the bite of the wind. The boy, likewise shielded from the cold, was perhaps nine years old. Flinging back his cloak to float like a flag against the nighted sky, the man drew from its scabbard an enormous two-handed sword, the weapon of a god. As he chanted an ancient rune spell, compounded of strange words and an unearthly rhythm, he thrust the blade upward into the heart of the tempest. With mighty legs outspread against the buffetings of the wind, he brandished the splendid sword aloft, while the lowering clouds churned about him, as if the brand had pierced and wounded the very firmament.

“Harken, Conan!” shouted the man above the roar of the storm. “Fire and wind are born in the womb of the heavens, the children of the sky gods. And the mightiest of the gods is Father Crom, who ruleth earth and heaven and the broad and restless sea. Many secrets there be, whereof Crom is master; but the greatest of these is the secret of steel, a secret which the gods taught not to men but jealously guarded in their inmost hearts.”

The boy stared up into the huge man’s face, as stern in the inconstant light as the granite outcrop on which they stood. The man took the measure of his words, while the shrieking wind tore at his beard as if to silence him.

“Once,” the deep voice began again, “giants dwelt within the earth. Mayhap they dwell there still. Crafty and wise were they, the fashioners of stone and wood, the miners of gems and gold; and in the darkness of chaos, they be-fooled even Crom, the Father of Gods. By their wiles they stole from him the most precious possession of the immortals: the secret of the silvery metal that, when bent, springs into shape again.

“Greatly was Crom enraged. The earth trembled, and the mountains opened. With blasts of wind and bolts of fire, Crom smote the earth giants; and they fell down; and the earth swallowed them forever. Closing its rocky lips, the earth gulped them down into the bowels of the world, the unknown place where dark things creep and crawl, the place whereof man knoweth naught.”

The man’s eyes blazed like blue flames amid smouldering coals; and his thick black hair, caught by a fierce gust, spread out like the wings of an eagle. Young Conan shuddered.

“The battle won,” the man went on, “the gods departed for their celestial realm; but, wrathful still, they overlooked the secret of the beaten metal and left it upon the battlefield. There the first men found it, the Atlanteans of legend, our ancestors before the dawn of history.”

Conan began to speak; but the man lifted a warning hand. “We, who are men, now hold the secret of steel. But we are not gods; neither are we giants. We are but mortals, weak and foolish; and our days are numbered. Be wary of steel, my son, and hold it in respect; for it carries within it a mystery and a power.”

“I do not understand, Father,” faltered the boy.

The man shook his black mane. “You will in time, Conan. Before a man is worthy to bear a sword of steel in battle—a weapon such as the gods once bore against the giants—he must learn its riddle. He must understand the ways of steel. Know that in all the world you can trust no one, neither man nor woman nor beast, neither spirit nor demon nor god. But you can trust a blade of well-forged steel.”

The man cupped his son’s small hands within his own and, curling the boy’s fingers about the hilt of the great sword, said; “The heart of a man is like a piece of unworked iron. It must be hammered by adversity and forged by suffering and the challenges flung by the thoughtless gods, nigh unto the point of breaking. It must be purged and hardened in the fires of conflict. It must be purified and shaped on the anvil of despair and loss.

“Only when your heart  has  become  as  steel  will  you be worthy to wield a keen-edged sword in battle and win against your enemies, as did the gods when they conquered the dark giants. When you have mastered the mysteries of steel, my son, your sword will be your very soul.”

All his life, Conan remembered those words, spoken by his sire on that lightning-riddled night. In time he began to comprehend the cryptic phrases, to understand the message that his father had striven to impart: out of suffering is born strength; only through pain and deprivation does a human heart become as strong as steel. But many and long were the years that passed before this wisdom became fully his.

Conan The Barbarian: The Official Motion Picture Adaptation
by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter Arrives in Stores on October 31

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