For decades, millions of readers have thrilled to the adventures of Conan, the barbarian adventurer invented by Robert E. Howard and further chronicled by other fantasy greats, including such notables as L. Sprague de Camp, Poul Anderson, and Robert Jordan.|
Now Harry Turtledove, one of today's most popular writers of fantasy and SF, contributes a novel to the Conan saga--a tale of Conan in his youth, in the year or so before he becomes the wandering adventurer we know from the tales of Howard and others.
On the verge of adulthood, he lives in a Cimmerian hamlet, caring for his ailing mother, working in his father's smithy, and casting his eye on the weaver's daughter next door.
Then war comes: an invasion by the Aquilonian Empire. Conan burns to join the fight, but he's deemed too young. Then, from the border country, comes an unbelievable report: The Aquilonians have smashed the Cimmerian defending forces, and can rule as they please. Soon their heavily garrisoned forts dot the countryside. Their settlers follow after, carving homesteads out of other men's land.
Every Cimmerian longs to drive the intruders out with fire and sword, but they must stay their hands, for the Aquilonians have promised savage reprisals. Then, intolerably, the Aquilonian commander takes a wholly dishonorable interest in the weaver's daughter -- and he's not a man to wait, or even ask permission.
It's not a recipe for a peaceable outcome.