Okay so I'm getting my sleeves rolled up for Conan. I've been reading a few of the Dark Horse comics...the reboot they did about 5 to 6 years ago. I ran into a chronological list of Conan novels, a reading order arranged by Conan's supposed age. In moving from comics to the actual novels I felt maybe I could read EVERYTHING from what original creator Robert E. Howard did through all of the various authors who have created books about this fictional character.
My list starts with "Conan Of Venarium", a novel written by Harry Turtedove. This guy has made a living writing alternate history books like "Guns Of The South". This "intro" book gets tons of backlash from the diehard fans because some of the dates don't match the timeline that most consider valuable. Also I believe Conan's parents names are different here as well as the "sacking of Venarium". I don't see how any of that really matters considering the original creator had Conan in all different ages from boy to old man. It is all up to interpretation...that is sort of the attraction for authors to contribute. So suck it.
This book shows us Conan at age 15. He lives in Cimmeria with his parents in a village called Douthil. His mom is dying of something akin to tuberculosis and his father, Mordec, is a blacksmith. The southern neighboring country called Aquilonia sends raiders to Cimmeria to take it over and envelope the land into their kingdom. At first the Cimmerians make a stand minus Conan...his father literally beats the Hell out of him and forces him to stay off the battlefield. The Cimmerians lose and Aquilonia basically forces themselves into Cimmeria. They aren't necessarily cruel or hostile...they simply want to allow their people to farm there, use the resources and still allow the Cimmerians freedom albeit far far from what the barbarians would consider a proud lifestyle.. This doesn't sit well with Conan and Turtedove really uses this novel to show us the fury and rage that builds in the character at such an early age. Conan, his father and a host of villages and nearby neighbors band together and fight off the Aquilonians and force them back to their homeland. By book's end Conan has become a man, a warrior and finds that he no longer belongs in Cimmeria or anywhere deemed home. The end was very fitting as we see Conan choose NOT to pick sides in an upcoming war and he starts out on his own as a wanderer and thief. This obviously sets the tone for the future of the character. I think Turtledove does Conan very similar to "Braveheart" and I'm okay with that. I think this was a great introduction to the character and a recommended read for newbies like myself.