Childhood[edit | edit source]
Conan was born in Cimmeria to a clan who claimed an area in the north-western part of this barbaric kingdom. His grandfather, a member of the southern Cimmerian tribes, fled from his people because of a blood feud. After long wanderings, some into the Hyborian regions in the south, he returned to Cimmeria and took refuge with a tribe in the north. At night before the fire, Conan's grandfather would spin elaborate tales of his travels outside of Cimmeria, and nobody would listen more intently than Conan himself.
We know that Conan was probably born during a fight between his tribe and a horde of Vanir, but there is little solid information about his young life.
Even early in life, Conan proved to be a powerful fighter. One story from Conan's youth tells of the boy fighting off an entire pack of wolves, barehanded, in order to save a hunter trapped beneath a fallen tree.
Family[edit | edit source]
Some sources give Greshan as the name of Conan's mother, and Corin as his father. The name of his tribe might have been "Snowhawk", but nearly every detail of Conan's family is cloaked in mystery. The Savage Sword of Conan also claims that Conan has a brother, though there is little information about him.
Conan Travelling[edit | edit source]
Conan enjoyed life as a raider with the Aesir, while crossing blades with Vanir and Hyperboreans alike. He bled as a laboring slave, gladiator, sell-sword, and prisoner. He lived as a thief in the streets of Shadizar, making a living on ill-gotten treasures and "forgotten" coins. Conan has lived on both sides of the law, as a ship's captain and pirate, as a mercenary or soldier, and finally as King of Aquilonia itself. He has slain beasts, monsters, and demons, never sparing their dark, sorcerer masters. His blade has tasted the blood of hundreds, and his travels took him across thousands of leagues. But, not all of his adventures were born of blade and blood.
He has also loved as fiercely as he has battled. Women from many lands have earned the Cimmeran's attention throughout his travels. Some say that few even held his heart for a time; perhaps longer than even Conan would like to admit. No matter his past loves and conquests, it's Zenobia, the Nemedian who helped him escape from Xaltotun, who would share Conan's life and become his wife and Queen.
Conan as King[edit | edit source]
Having dethroned the late King Numedides III and claimed his crown to rest on a troubled brow, Conan of Cimmeria now sits upon the throne of Aquilonia. His tales are known as legend and fable all over Hyboria. Except in the darkest reaches of the Black Kingdoms or the savage tribes of the Pictish Wilderness, there is not a soul who hasn't at least heard of the life of Conan (or to some Amra, the Lion), and there is not an adventurer whose life doesn't mirror his own in some way.
He has led Aquilonia's armies against his kingdom's foes from Nemedia, Ophir, and Koth, while sending a message that the Border Kingdoms will not be left to their own devices. There has been too much blood spilled in those broken lands to ignore any longer. As king, Conan cannot always venture forth as he used to, so he must leave it to his able-bodied and loyal subjects instead. They are enjoying a vagabond's life of travel and excitement day to day behind the hilt of a bloody sword, while he must patiently wait to hear of their successes. His role has become more structured, more bound to Tarantia and the fate of Aquilonia than ever before.
He sits on his throne in Tarantia, watching and waiting tensely as threats to his rule rear back like a cobra ready to strike. He would like nothing more than to ride out and meet these enemies in battle as a warrior should, but as king he cannot-leaving it instead to the brave adventurers who follow in his footsteps. Where he has been the source of legends, King Conan enjoys his heralds' tales of heroes from this new age, the inheritors of his own adventures long passed.
Characteristics[edit | edit source]
Conan is a Cimmerian (not to be confused with the historical Cimmerians), a barbarian of the far north. He was born on the battlefield and is the son of a blacksmith. He matured very quickly: by age fifteen he was already a respected warrior, participating in the destruction of the Aquilonian outpost of Venarium. After this, he was struck by wanderlust and began the colorful and exciting adventures chronicled by Howard (and subsequently, after Howard's death, by others), encountering fabulous monsters, evil wizards, other-worldly demons, and beautiful princesses - he has traveled throughout the world as a thief and outlaw, a mercenary and commander of a mercenary company, and a pirate. He begins building larger units of men, aiming for greater territorial ambitions, though his efforts are repeatedly thwarted - usually by the total massacre of his forces, save himself. It isn't until his mid years that he succeeds. Conan, somewhere in his forties, becomes king of Aquilonia, the most powerful kingdom of the age, having strangled the previous ruler on the steps of the throne. Although Conan's adventures often result in him performing heroic feats, his motive are more than often his own survival, enrichment, or rise to power. Overall, he displays many of the characteristics of an anti-hero.
Appearance[edit | edit source]
Conan has "sullen blue eyes, long black hair, stands 6'2 ft. tall, and weighs 210 pounds as told by Howard as an exact physical duplicate of another character. In most of the stories, no human is ever described as stronger than Conan, although several are mentioned as taller (such as the strangler Baal-Pteor) or of larger bulk. Although Conan is muscular, Howard frequently compares his agility and way of moving to that of a panther. His skin is frequently characterized as bronzed from constant exposure to the sun, while his garb is most commonly a loincloth, sandals, and a sword of some description, depending on his fortunes or location. In his younger years, he's often depicted wearing a light chain shirt and a horned helmet, with the horns not placed one on each side, like most others, but both horns placed parallel in front of the helmet. The placement of the horns made many of his comrades to mock him, but Conan stopped the mocking rather effectively by demonstrating the reason for this strange placement in many a battle.
During his reign as King of Aquilonia, Conan is "... a tall man, mightily shouldered and deep of chest, with a massive corded neck and heavily muscled limbs. He was clad in silk and velvet, with the royal lions of Aquilonia worked in gold upon his rich jupon, and the crown of Aquilonia shone on his square-cut black mane; but the great sword at his side seemed more natural to him than the regal accouterments. His brow was low and broad, his eyes a volcanic blue that smoldered as if with some inner fire. His dark, scarred, almost sinister face was that of a fighting-man, and his velvet garments could not conceal the hard, dangerous lines of his limbs." He loses none of his vigor through age, with the above description coming when he is in his mid 40's.
Though several later authors have referred to Conan as "Germanic-looking", Howard imagined the Cimmerians as a Proto-Celtic people with mostly dark hair and blue or grey eyes. Racially, the Cimmerians which Conan belongs are descendants of the Atlanteans, though they don't remember their ancestry. In his pseudo-historical essay "The Hyborian Age", Howard describes how the people of Atlantis (the land where his character King Kull originated) had to move east after a great cataclysm changed the face of the world and sank their island, settling where northern Scotland and Norway would eventually be located. In the same work, Howard also described how the Cimmerians eventually moved south and east after the age of Conan (presumably in the vicinity of the Black Sea, where the historical Cimmerians dwelt).
Abilities[edit | edit source]
Despite his brutish appearance, Conan uses his brain as well as his brawn. The Cimmerian is a talented fighter, but due to his travels abroad, he also has vast experience in other trades, especially thievery. He's also a talented commander, tactician, and strategist, as well as a born leader. In addition, Conan speaks many languages, including advanced reading and writing abilities. in certain stories, he's able to recognize, or even decipher, certain ancient or secret signs and writings, such as Bit-Yakins manuscript in "The Jewels of Gwahlur" (but noticeably, he apparently is never shown by Howard reading Stygian, though he can speak it), and his very first appearance shows him busy writing. Another noticeable trait is his sense of humor, largely absent in the comics and movies, but very much a part of Howard's original vision of the character, particularly apparent in "Xuthal of the Dusk", better known as "The Slithering Shadow". He's a loyal friend to those true to him, with a barbaric code of honor and chivalry that often marks Conan as more civilized than the more sophisticated people he encounters during his travels. Indeed, his straightforward nature and barbarism are constant in all of his adventures.
One fact that is often emphasized is that Conan is very difficult to defeat in hand-to-hand combat. Conan needs only to have his back to the wall so that he cannot be surrounded, and then is capable of engaging and killing opponents by the score. Conan is not superhuman, though. Once, he need the providential help of Zelata's wolf to defeat four Nemedian soldiers in "The Hour of the Dragon". Some of his hardest victories haven't come from fighting single opponents, but ones of inhuman strength: such as Thak, the ape man from "Rogues in the House", the strangler Baal-Pteor in "Shadows in Zamboula", or the gray ape from "Shadows in the Moonlight". Conan is far from untouchable and has been captured several times (knocking himself out running into a wall drunk after being betrayed, although he still slays the people initially sent to arrest him) but never as a result of martial failings.