The Bloody Crown of Conan is the second collected edition of the original Robert E. Howard Conan stories. Unlike the first one, however, this isn’t chock full of short stories, poems and unfinished works. This one primarily features three full-length novellas: The People of the Black Circle, The Hour of the Dragon, and A Witch Shall Be Born. There’s some bonus stuff tacked on at the end but these three stories are the focus of this volume.
For the most part, I liked the stories included here. Before this, I had never read Robert E. Howard’s original versions of them but I do recall two of them from comic book adaptations. Knowing Roy Thomas and his run on Conan comics while writing them at Marvel, I’m sure he adapted all three of these at some point.
I enjoyed the first volume a bit more, as that collection offered up more variety and featured more well-known secondary characters in their original literary versions. Still, these bigger stories were fun, adventurous reads.
The benefit of these novella length tales is that Conan feels more realized and complete. His character is able to develop and breathe a little bit more. This is where you really feel like you get to know him beyond just his already well-known basic traits.
For fans of the character and Robert E. Howard’s work, this is definitely something that should be read. If you’re like me and haven’t experienced these stories in their original form, you need to.
Pairs well with: other Robert E. Howard collections.