Robert E. Howard created an elaborate mythology that rivals all other popular high fantasy from J.R.R. Tolkien to George R. R. Martin. In fact, both these authors owe an incredible debt to this precursor and founder of the subgenre of Sword and Sorcery. This website is devoted to sustaining an Encyclopedia to the people, places, creatures, and artifacts of the Hyborian Age that served as the setting for Conan the Cimmerian. It only contains entries for works written by Howard himself to ensure authenticity to the source material and divest influence of pastiche. L. Sprague de Camp, for example, admired Howard’s work while criticizing his failure to maintain internal logic of names and interrelationships of such an expansive universe. Having conducted research spanning the entirety of Howard’s Hyborian literature, there is far more consistency to his creation than has been assumed. Most minor “gaps” of alternative spelling or naming of proper nouns can find sensible rationalization in small extrapolations made on the part of the reader.
For example, the city of “Rogues in the House” is never identified by name. Using Howard’s map and geographic references made in the narrative place it within the region east of Aquilonia and west of Turan. With small measure of error, it can be reasonably assumed to be in Corinthia and judging by the importance of the Red Priest Nabonidus to the governance of the kingdom in which he resided as for all intents and purposes its true ruler, it can be further assumed that the events occur in that kingdom’s capital of Corinth. This occurs again in “The Tower of the Elephant” which also features a city never identified by name. The settlement is certainly within the nation of Zamora, but cannot be assumed to be Shadizar (the only Zamoran city ever identified by name). Therefore, it is identified for the purposes of this encyclopedia as “the City of Thieves” as Howard himself referred to it as “thief city” in his letters.
One final example of these minor extrapolations is in regards to the changing name of King Conan’s ruling city in the kingdom of Aquilonia which is referred to by the name of Tamar in “The Scarlet Citadel,” by the name of Tarantia in The Hour of the Dragon, and by no name at all in “Phoenix on the Sword.” Based on mentions of characters (specifically the poet Rinaldo who is dead in “The Scarlet Citadel” but alive in “Phoenix on the Sword”) it would seem that the stories chronologically begin with “Phoenix on the Sword” and end with The Hour of the Dragon (also known as Conan the Conqueror). The capital is originally named Tamar but is later named Tarantia. The best explanation is that it was renamed in the years after Conan seized control from the rightful king Namedides.
Otherwise, the internal logic of these stories is nearly flawless. It has been suggested by some that these tales were hastily thrown together so Howard may meet quotas with Weird Tales. On the contrary, I argue that they were as carefully designed as comparative entries of high fantasy. Even the duplication of character names across multiple stories follows Howard’s logic of fashioning Hyborian cultures (Khossus = Kothian derivation, Tiberias = Aquilonian derivation). However, deviations from this norm do exist (Valerius = Aquilonian in The Hour of the Dragon but it is Khaurani in “A Witch Shall Be Born,” Taurus = Nemedian in “The Tower of the Elephant,” but it is Khorajan in “Black Colossus”). However, even this fluidity of naming can find some explanation as there are three separate instances of Amalric occurring, two of which are Aquilonian and the third being Nemedian (a nation that bordered Aquilonia and saw frequent battles between the vying powers). This would inevitably involve shifts in populations across both nations and explain how a name in frequent usage could belong to both regions.
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