- Know, O prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the rise of the sons of Aryas, there was an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars. Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandaled feet.
Conan was born in Cimmeria, a northern kingdom of barbarians. All of his chronicled adventures take place in the Hyborian Age. At the age of fifteen, Conan fought in the battle of Venarium. After this, Conan, went on several adventures as chronicled in the comics. He eventually came to be the king of Aquilonia, one of the most powerful kingdoms of the Hyborian age. Among his foes was the Stygian wizard Thoth-Amon. After many years of ruling Aquilonia, Conan abdicated in favour of his son, Conn, and departed across the Western Ocean to investigate mysterious forces which menaced Aquilonia, and discover new lands to explore. His ultimate fate is not recorded.
Inhuman Strength: Conan possessed the strength level of a man his age, size and weight who engaged in Strength Scale# Superhuman regular exercise. Conan was physically one of the most powerful humans who ever lived. Stated as having the strength of ten to twelve strong men.
Peak Human Durability: Conan's great physical size, musculature and mental toughness gave him the ability to withstand injury superior to those of ordinary humans.
Peak Human Endurance: Conan could stay awake for days as well as exert himself for a considerable amount of time without rest before showing any signs of fatigue.
Preternatural Speed and Agility: Conan possessed considerably greater speed and agility than a man of his size should have; his speed and agility were often compared to that of a jungle cat.
Wilderness Instinct: Having been raised as a barbarian, Conan had time from birth to nurture a survival instinct lost to most other humans. This very instinct had saved his life on many occasions, making him an even more formidable warrior.
Enhanced Senses: Conan was born and raised in the dark grey hills of Cimmeria, and spent much time outdoors-as both a necessity and as a form of leisure; as such, he developed senses of vision, smell, and hearing that were several times more acute than those of a "civilized" human.
Master Warrior: Conan was a highly formidable armed and unarmed combatant. He had been trained to use most weapons available to his time with great ability. His skill, brutality and intensity was unsurpassed and he had been shown to kill highly skilled and armed opponants by the score, whether armed or bare-handed.
Master Tactician and Strategist: Conan was a born leader and commander of men. His vast experiences in battle gave him considerable tactical and strategic knowledge.
Multi-Lingual: Conan was exceptionally intelligent and able to speak, read and write multiple ancient languages.
Master of Stealth: As he was raised in a wilderness environment, Conan possessed sufficient stealth to surprise forest animals. This was further honed during Conan's career as a thief.
Conan possessed the strength level of a man his age, size and weight who engaged in Strength Scale# Superhuman regular intensive exercise. Conan was physically one of the most powerful humans who ever lived; as demonstrated by overpowering the physically bigger strangler Baal-Pteor, and breaking the neck of a wild Cimmerian bull when he was only a teenager. Conan consistently demonstrated feats of power in his strikes, such as easily breaking the bones of humans and beasts alike. Additionally, Conan could crush bone with his grip strength alone, as demonstrated on numerous occasions.
Conan generally traveled on horseback.
A wide variety of bladed weapons, though he usually preferred a two-handed Broadsword.
- Conan was created by Robert E. Howard and later licensed by Marvel Comics, but is now under license to Dark Horse Comics. As it tends to do, Marvel introduced a number of unique characters through the Conan books over which it remains in full control. Similarly, a number of characters central to the Conan story (such as his patron deity, Crom), have sporadic but important roles in the early history of Marvel's Earth-616.
- Conan is the licensed property of Paradox Entertainment, Inc. and its affiliated company, Conan Properties International LLC.
- While Conan as a character is still claimed to be protected under copyright and owned by various companies, most of the original Conan stories by Robert E. Howard (d. 1936) were published over 80 years ago and are considered to have passed into the public domain. Several of them are available to read online in websites such as Project Gutenberg and Wikisource, which cover public domain works. However, Howard stories which were published posthumously are probably still under copyright. In the case of several incomplete or unpublished Howard stories which were completed, edited, or otherwise modified by other writers, following his death and prior to their original publication, they are all still under copyright and will continue to be so for several decades.
- Conan's actual first appearance in any media is the short story The Phoenix on the Sword, which was published in Weird Tales magazine during 1932. Writer Robert E. Howard actually based this story on one of his older, unpublished stories starring Kull. This particular story was called By This Axe I Rule! and was written in 1929, but would not be published until 1967.
- Conan's debut story The Phoenix on the Sword also introduced the sorcerer Thoth-Amon. In this story, Conan and Thoth-Amon happen to have enemies in common. Thoth-Amon's plot to eliminate his enemies ends up almost killing Conan as well. The two characters did not meet in person, and were mostly unaware of each other's existence. Robert E. Howard included plots and mentions of Thoth-Amon in several other Conan stories, but the sorcerer and Conan never met in person in his works. However, the pastiche writers, who continued writing Conan stories following Howard's death, felt that Thoth-Amon was the closest thing to an archenemy Conan ever had. They greatly expanded Thoth-Amon's role in their stories, and the Marvel Comics writers mostly followed their example. The Earth-616 versions of the two characters had a long-running series of hostile encounters, starting with Conan in his early 20s and ending with a middle-aged Conan who has a grown-up son.
- Conan's creator Robert E. Howard intended for his stories to follow Conan's long life and career from early life to old age, but never intended to create or publish the stories in chronological order. The original Conan story The Phoenix on the Sword (1932) introduced Conan as a middle-aged man who had recently claimed the throne of Aquilonia and faced assassination plots. The short story The Scarlet Citadel (1933) and the novel The Hour of the Dragon (1936-1936) also feature King Conan facing efforts to depose him, foreign invasions, and an attempt to restore a long-dead empire. But these are the only stories to follow this example. The rest of the Conan tales by Howard feature a younger or much younger Conan, and jump back and forth in time. The chronological clues are sometimes clear and other times vague, leading to various Conan scholars coming up with contradictory timelines for the events depicted. For example, it is generally agreed that the short story "The Tower of the Elephant (1933), which features a novice Conan who is still new to civilization, takes place very early in Conan's life. Most estimates have him being a teenager in this story, though there are disagreements on whether he is underage or just entering adulthood. Meanwhile the chronological clues in the short story "The Frost-Giant's Daughter" (1932), where Conan faces a daughter of Ymir in the far north of the Hyborian world, are vague to non-existent. Other Conan scholars have placed this as the chronologically earliest Conan story with Conan barely 15 or 16 years-old, while others argue that it features an experienced Conan who is at least in his 30s. This style of storytelling has influenced the Marvel version of the Conan tales, where stories were also not published in chronological order. Various Marvel writers have attempted to give chronological clues as to where to place their stories in Conan's timeline, while others did not even try and their stories feature no actual clues about their placement.
- Following the death of of Robert E. Howard in 1936, a large number of writers have written additional Conan short stories and novels. Among them were Björn Nyberg, L. Sprague de Camp, Lin Carter, Andrew J. Offutt, Karl Edward Wagner, Poul Anderson, Robert Jordan, John Maddox Roberts, Steve Perry, Leonard Carpenter, Roland Green, Sean A. Moore, John C. Hocking, Harry Turtledove, Loren L. Coleman, Richard A. Knaak, Jeff Mariotte, and Michael A. Stackpole. Their works form an extended canon of Conan literature, and they have often added their personal vision of the Hyborian world in each book. Marvel Comics has licensed and adapted at least part of these works, and also several of the original characters introduced in them. In some cases, like with Isparana (an Andrew J. Offutt creation), the characters went on to make many more appearances than the mere adaptation of the original novel.
- The current list of Conan literary stories in chronological order starts with the novel Conan of Venarium (2003) and ends with the novel Conan of the Isles (1968). The first features Conan when 14 or 15 years-old and taking part in the Battle of Venarium, the event which Robert E. Howard mentioned as Conan's first battle but never fully depicted. The second features Conan in his 60s, abdicating the throne of Aquilonia in favor of his grown-up son, having one last recorded adventure in the Western Ocean (the Hyborian name for the Atlantic Ocean) and the Antillian Isles, and sailing further west towards the Americas. Marvel Comics has at times depicted events involving the Battle of Venarium in their stories, and flashback tales to Conan's childhood and early teenage years. It has also adapted the "Conan of the Isles" novel and published at least one tale which serves as its sequel, "The Necromancers of Na'at" in Conan the Savage Vol 1 10 (May, 1996). It has Conan loosing all his crew but continuing to sail towards the Americas.
- In the first Conan story, "The Phoenix on the Sword", Epemitreus the Sage (a good sorcerer who has been supposedly dead for 1500 years) grants Conan a magical symbol to use against dark magic. It is the symbol of the Phoenix on Conan's sword. Marvel has adapted this story, but it was never clarified if the symbol has any connections to the Phoenix Force.
- The Hyborian Age, when Conan supposedly lived, was estimated by various Conan writers and scholars to take place 8 to 10 thousand years before the Anno Domini era. Conan is probably long dead, but the circumstances of his death have never been depicted. Lin Carter did write a narrative poem called "Death-Song of Conan the Cimmerian" (1972), which has an elderly Conan facing his own mortality and approaching death. But the topic of the poem is Conan contemplating his past life, all the people he has met, all the lessons he has learned, and declaring that he has no regrets.
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