Manual The People of the Black Circle and Other Stories

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Fellow Black Gater Gabe Dybing loaded his entry directly into the website and it fell off my radar. My fault. Read on! Robert E. But Conan has not lost any of his more youthful thiefly abilities; his introduction in this story has him climbing through a window after sneaking over a barbican and single-handedly dispatching of the guards there. Most notable of these are Khemsa who even is a perspective character! Other Conan stories contain these things, too, but this story is the very best Conan story because it has what no other does — the Devi of Vendhya.

Conan Re-Read: “The People of the Black Circle” | Howard Andrew Jones

Perhaps, perhaps not. He looked more enormous than ever with the morning sunlight behind him, and Yasmina noted some details that had escaped her the night before.

His garments were clean and not ragged. The broad Bakhariot girdle that supported his knife in its ornamented scabbard would have matched the robes of a prince, and there was a glint of fine Turanian mail under his shirt. He is experienced , hailing from many lands and climes. That fellow Yar Afzal beat and sent away — he moved like a man walking in his sleep. The priests looked into their eyes and muttered incantations, and then the people became like walking dead men, with glassy eyes, doing as they were ordered.

Pretty impressive, huh?

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When I got to this portion of the story, while rereading for this exercise, I became convinced that, were one ever to film another Conan movie, this time actually using an REH story , it should be this one. And then I saw what the fellow had in his hand, which Yar Afzal picked up. It was like a big, black jade bead, such as the temple girls of Yezud wear when they dance before the black stone spider which is their god. Yet when he fell dead a spider, like the god at Yezud, only smaller, ran out of his fingers.

It seemed to come from above. Those reading the story will know that Conan is not in error about any of this, that his observations are accurate. He has all the information he needs to make the most informed decision about what to do next. If the passages about his physical description argue for a life of education and experience, this demonstrates the application of this experience. Conan here proves himself a hero not in appearance only but through true use of his background. The Devi Yasmina, with whom through chance or destiny Conan is sharing these observations, is not entirely unlike Conan at this time.

She is a ruler. In comparison, though, while Conan leads a tribe of hillpeople, Yasmina governs an entire nation. This role is implicitly evident in what is discussed in the rest of this essay and thus does not require textual evidence here. And if Conan is near fully formed, Yasmina is not.


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What she lacks is experience, but she gains that throughout the novella. Howard seems to take pains to show how Yasmina comes upon this experience, and does so by making certain to establish who she is at the beginning of the tale. To detail this, Howard shows Yasmina growing excited about some plans she is making. This is how one of her subordinates treated her in this state:. Again the governor knelt, for part of his wisdom was the knowledge that a woman in such an emotional tempest is as perilous as a blind cobra to any about her.

Yasmina is a proud, dangerous and capricious ruler. She gains some of this humility almost immediately after her introduction. The Devi walks in to have a word with her governor at the very moment that Conan has slipped in to negotiate the release of his seven chieftains. Like a fool, Chunda Shan lets cry that this woman entering his chambers is the Devi. Conan sees his opportunity and quite literally seizes it, making an escape from the compound with the ruler of all of Vendhya in his arms.

The tribal scouts demand Conan reveal what he is hiding.

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And moving aside he disclosed the cowering girl. Reaching a long arm into the crevice he drew her trembling forth. Her imperious bearing was gone. She stared timidly at the ring of bearded faces that hemmed her in, and was grateful for the strong arm that clasped her possessively. They are more like applied fictional physics, ignoring the whole social and mythic element that magic has always had in human culture. For humans all over the world for tens of thousands of years, magic did actually work.

Not because things actually levitated or people where were shooting lightning from their hands, but because it exists in their heads. Real magic is all about perception, expectations, and behavior. Someone turning into a toad in a flash with a burst of smoke is not how people expected and experienced magic. Someone slowly turning into an inhuman thing whose form is not clearly to make out in the shadows is much more realistic.

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Howard November 22, at pm. It feels organized and yes, as you suggested, principled. In some strange way it also feels natural. Robert Zoltan November 23, at pm. I agree with Howard mostly about system-based magic. If I remember correctly, invisible beings—demons, etc. A good artist knows how to use color, and usually, uses it with restraint. Our brains can only take in so much visual information. If you fill a canvas with splashes of bright color, the eye gets desensitized, and none of the colors stick out.

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But if all the colors are muted, and then there is a small splash of red somewhere, that red looks incredibly vibrant and intense. The kind of magic I was referring to is the stereotypical gaming magic which Howard mentions, and which is both systemic and unnatural feeling , where people are shooting fireballs from their hands and lightning out their ass. That feels more like comic book superhero stuff to me.

I say, that quality and length? Bill Ward November 24, at am.

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Robert Zoltan November 24, at am. Martin Kallies November 25, at pm. I am really hoping for that. Without the constraints of the publishing and printing industries, people now can write stories that are as long as they have to be, instead of being padded to read an arbitrary page count. Twitter Facebook Good Reads Amazon.

Open Search. Robert Zoltan November 21, at pm Oh, epic fantasy. Robert Zoltan November 23, at pm I agree with Howard mostly about system-based magic. Robert Zoltan November 24, at am Agreed! Martin Kallies November 25, at pm I am really hoping for that. Leave a comment Cancel reply Your email address will not be published.