Story Review: The People of the Black Circle by Robert E. Howard

Covering a Conan story is a nice addition to my continuing search of early speculative fiction. I’ve previously covered The King of Elfland’s Daughter and The Ship of Ishtar. If you like older stories, check those reviews out.

Robert E. Howard is an author I have mixed feelings for. On the one hand, I look up to how great he is as an author, but on the other, I really feel he’s raised up on a pedestal beyond what he deserves.

The People of the Black Circle was the second real Conan story I read. I wasn’t a huge fan of Howard before, but I liked him well enough. Honestly this story made me reevaluate my opinion of him.

The story is epic. The Emperor of Vendhya is killed and the Devi Yasmina comes to power. She swears to kill the assassins, who used magic to kill her brother. Amidst all of this, Conan has come to negotiate for the release of his seven warriors from a jail in Vendhya. Conan takes Yasmina as a hostage and flees Vendhya, unknowingly jumping into a battle of kings and wizards. With this comes its own dangers, as a mystical man in a camel vest pursues Conan and Yasmina.

I can’t recommend this story enough. The progression is great, Conan as a character is strong and interesting, and Yasmina is a beautiful, proud woman. Not to mention, the action is fantastic. There’s numerous fights in canyons and tricky interpretations of mystical words. It’s all around great.

You may like some of my other reviews:

Book Review: The High Crusade by Poul Anderson

Book Review: The Ship of Ishtar by A. Merritt

Book Review: The Dragon Masters by Jack Vance

You may also like some of my other work:

Writing with Inspiration

How to Tell if Your Writing is Improving

Poetry: “Rusted Theme Park from My Childhood”

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