The Conan and Robert E. Howard Website


The Edited Conan Stories

The following are the seventeen Conan tales that were originally submitted by Howard and published in the 1930's pulp magazine, Weird Tales. The list shows Howard's original title for the stories, alternate titles are shown in parentheses, followed by the date of first publication:

  1. "The Phoenix on the Sword" - December 1932
  2. "The Scarlet Citadel" - January 1933
  3. "The Tower of the Elephant" - March 1933
  4. "Black Colossus" - June 1933
  5. "Xuthal of the Dusk" (as "The Slithering Shadow") - September 1933
  6. "The Pool of the Black One" - October 1933
  7. "Rogues in the House" - January 1934
  8. "Iron Shadows in the Moon" (as "Shadows in the Moonlight") - April 1934
  9. "Queen of the Black Coast" - May 1934
  10. "The Devil in Iron" - August 1934
  11. "The People of the Black Circle" - [3-part serial] September, October, November 1934
  12. "A Witch Shall Be Born" - December 1934
  13. "Teeth of Gwahlur" - (as "Jewels of Gwahlur"; working title "The Servants of Bît-Yakin") - March 1935
  14. "Beyond the Black River" - [2-part serial] May, June 1935
  15. "The Man-Eaters of Zamboula" (as "Shadows in Zamboula") - November 1935
  16. The Hour of the Dragon (novel) - [5-part serial] December 1935; January, February, March, April 1936
  17. "Red Nails" - [3-part serial] July, August-September, October 1936

All stories as they appeared in the Lancer/Ace paperback editions and the Gnome Press hardback editions have been edited by L. Sprague de Camp (with the exception of Gnome's Conan the Conqueror and Sword of Conan which were edited by John D. Clark). Though many of the Conan stories were severely edited and altered in the Lancer/Ace editions, the 17 stories that were originally published in the 1930's by Weird Tales magazine appear mostly as they did in their original publication and, for the most part, have only minor editorial changes.

Sadly, the Conan hardback collector's edition The Pool of the Black One published by D.M. Grant was recently found to contain unnecessary editorial alterations to the text. Most of the changes were done to make the text more "politically correct." Racial slurs, names, and other "potentially offensive" remarks and phrases were edited, as well as some tampering with adjectives, deletions or words, and some punctuation changes. This discovery, coupled with the discovery that the D.M. Grant collection of Howard's Solomon Kane stories, Red Shadows, was also edited, calls into question the textual purity and integrity of the entire D.M. Grant collection of Conan books. Therefore, unless otherwise determined, the stories contained within these books are to be considered edited -- and are an unacceptable textual source. Why Howard's posthumous editors insist on editing stories that have already been edited when Howard originally submitted his Conan tales to Weird Tales magazine is beyond me. One would think that what was appropriate for the 1930's would at least be tolerable for the 2010's. To date, there is no way to easily and affordably collect all the unedited Conan stories and text... yet.

Wandering Star Publishers is currently collecting and publishing all of the Conan stories, fragments, synopses, and everything Howard ever wrote or created about the Cimmerian in a deluxe, exquisitely illustrated 3 volume set titled Robert E. Howard's Conan of Cimmeria. The story texts presented here are the "final versions" prepared by Howard. In most cases this means the text will be taken from their original appearances in Weird Tales Magazine, but in some cases the text will be taken from a surviving draft in order to restore the story to its final version before it was altered by editors. It's difficult to imagine text any more pure and unfettered by editorial influences than this. The first volume was published in 2002, the second volume is due to be published near the end of 2003, and the last volume is expected to be published in late 2004. Trade paperback editions of these fine books will be published by Ballantine Books -- the first volume, retitled The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian, is due out near the end of 2003.


Howard Fragments:

  • "The Hall of the Dead" (synopsis) - titled and written by L. Sprague de Camp - February 1967
  • "The Hand of Nergal" (unfinished story fragment) - titled and completed by Lin Carter - 1968
  • "The Snout in the Dark" (unfinished story fragment AND synopsis) - completed by de Camp and Carter - 1969
  • "Drums of Tombalku" (unfinished story fragment AND synopsis) - completed by de Camp - 1966
  • "Wolves Beyond the Border" (unfinished story fragment AND synopsis) - completed by de Camp - 1967

"The Hall of the Dead," "The Hand of Nergal," "The Snout in the Dark," "Drums of Tombalku," and "Wolves Beyond the Border" as they appear in the Lancer/Ace editions are posthumous collaborations by De Camp and/or Lin Carter. The original Howard portion of "Snout in the Dark" covers up to Chapter 5 of the story as it appears in the Lancer/Ace Conan of Cimmeria; De Camp used the synopsis as a guide to continue the story. "Drums of Tombalku" is Howard's up to page 170 of Lancer/Ace's Conan the Adventurer, "You saved our lives"; the synopsis for the rest was used to finish the story. "Wolves Beyond the Border" in the Lancer edition of Conan the Usurper is Howard's up to page 145 (up to page 143 in the later Ace Books edition), "We lay close there,..."

For those looking to find the un-edited original fragments of these stories, read on!

The synopsis for "Drums of Tombalku" appears Cromlech #3. An acceptable form of the story fragment has not yet been published.

The synopsis for "The Snout in the Dark" appears in Robert E. Howard’s Conan of Cimmeria Volume One (Wandering Star, 2002) and Cromlech #3. The story fragment can be found in Robert E. Howard’s Conan of Cimmeria Volume One (Wandering Star, 2002).

The originally untitled synopsis for "The Hall of the Dead" and the untitled fragment for "The Hand of Nergal" appear in The Last Celt: A Bio-Bibliography of Robert E. Howard edited by Glenn Lord and published by DM Grant, as well as Robert E. Howard’s Conan of Cimmeria Volume One (Wandering Star, 2002).

The unfinished story fragment for "Wolves Beyond the Border" was published in The Conan Chronicles Volume 2: The Hour Of The Dragon (Millenium, February 2001). However, the last two paragraphs of this version are taken from the last two paragraphs of the synopsis. Unfortunately, the Synopsis has never been published.


Bowdlerized Stories:

  • "The Black Stranger" (also titled "The Treasure of Tranicos") - March 1953 Fantasy Magazine
  • "The Frost Giant's Daughter" - August 1953 Fantasy Fiction magazine [as "Gods of the North" - March 1934 The Fantasy Fan magazine]
  • "The God in the Bowl" - September 1952 Space Science Fiction magazine

Three complete Conan tales were horribly re-written and severely altered by L. Sprague de Camp... some say "mauled" by Mr. de Camp. Though complete, these stories were not published during Howard's lifetime, and were discovered later in manuscript form buried in the bottom of a trunk that was originally owned by Howard's literary agent, Otis Kline.

"The Black Stranger" (AKA "The Treasure of Tranicos") was one of the last Conan stories that Howard ever wrote, presumably sometime around 1934 or 1935. Howard submitted the story to Farnsworth Wright, editor of Weird Tales magazine, and the story was rejected. About a year later, Howard re-wrote the story into a historical pirate tale called, "Swords of the Red Brotherhood," and sent it to his literary agent, Otis Kline Associates, on May 28, 1935. In this re-write Howard substituted his swashbuckling hero, Black Vulmea, in place of Conan. Otis Kline submitted the story to Golden Fleece magazine, but the magazine went out of business before the manuscript could be published, and the story was returned... and lost to the world for many years.

In 1951, "The Black Stranger" was found with two other lost manuscripts ("The God in the Bowl" and "The Frost Giant's Daughter") by L. Sprague de Camp. He found them lying buried in a carton that the agent Oscar J. Friend had received after the death of the previous literary agent, Otis Kline. In 1952 De Camp extensively rewrote and condensed the story as "The Treasure of Tranicos" and submitted it to Fantasy Magazine. Editor Lester del Rey restored Howard's title but added four paragraphs at the opening (from "Count Valenso" to "Writhing again") and published the tale in the March 1953 issue. The Gnome Press King Conan (also 1953) used this De Camp-Del Rey recension but restored De Camp's title. Years later De Camp rewrote it again for inclusion in the Lancer/Ace Conan the Usurper, this time restoring the portions he had condensed, but keeping his plot and character changes, some name changes, and excising Del Rey's additions. This version also bore the title "The Treasure of Tranicos" and appeared in Conan the Usurper (1967) and Ace's illustrated The Treasure of Tranicos (1980). [All this information comes from De Camp, "The Trail of Tranicos" in The Spell of Conan (Ace), or The Conan Reader (DM Grant), or The Treasure of Tranicos (Ace)] "The Black Stranger" first appeared in its original form, as Howard wrote it, in Echoes of Valor edited by Karl Edward Wagner (Tor Books, 1987). Ironically, with the publication of Howard's original "The Black Stranger," De Camp's initial rewrite in its un-edited form becomes the rarest, never-published version! Howard's re-write of the story, "Swords of the Red Brotherhood" can be found in Black Vulmea's Vengeance published by D.M. Grant in 1976, Zebra Books in 1976, Baronet in 1977, Berkley Books in 1979, and Ace Books in 1987.

"The Frost-Giant's Daughter," was originally submitted by Howard to Weird Tales editor Farnsworth Wright at the same time as the first Conan story,"The Phoenix On the Sword". "The Frost Giant's Daughter" was summarily rejected with Wright stating "I do not much care for it." Howard rewrote the story, re-naming it "The Frost King's Daughter," and submitted it to Charles D. Hornig for publication in The Fantasy Fan (March 1934), an amateur magazine. In this re-written story, Howard changed the character's name from Conan to Amra of Akbitana because he felt it imprudent to give away a Conan tale when most were being bought by Weird Tales. Howard fans will remember that Conan is sometimes known as Amra. Hornig accepted the story and published it under the title, "Gods of the North."

Subsequently, "Gods of the North" was published three additional times in Fantastic Universe magazine (December 1956); an illustrated, limited edition chapbook titled The Illustrated Gods Of The North published by Necronomicon Press in 1977; and in Karl Edward Wagner's Echoes of Valor II (Tor Books, 1989) with the restored title, "The Frost King's Daughter."

The story was not printed as a Conan tale until the August 1953 issue of Fantasy Fiction magazine. This occured after L. Sprague de Camp discovered a lost, and unpublished manuscript of the story. De Camp used the original title, "The Frost Giant's Daughter", and extensively rewrote the story despite the fact that the manuscript was a polished and complete draft. The edited story was subsequently published in The Coming of Conan (Gnome Press, 1953), the Lancer/Ace editions of Conan of Cimmeria (1969), and Rogues in the House by DM Grant (1976). The original un-edited manuscript for "The Frost Giant's Daughter" was published in Echoes of Valor II edited by Karl Edward Wagner (Tor Books, 1989). Since then, a second and even earlier manuscript of Howard's "The Frost Giant's Daughter" has surfaced, and was published in it's complete and original form in The Dark Man #1 edited by Rusty Burke and published by Necronomicon Press (1990). And lastly, the final un-edited manuscript of "The Frost Giant's Daughter" was published in Robert E. Howard's Conan of Cimmeria, Volume One (Wandering Star, 2002).

"The God in the Bowl" was submitted by Howard to Weird Tales magazine just after he submitted "The Frost Giant's Daughter," but Wright rejected this tale as well. The story was one of the three manuscripts de Camp found buried in a carton in the possession of Oscar J. Friend (along with "The Frost Giant's Daughter" and "The Black Stranger") in 1951. "The God in the Bowl" was found to be a complete story, and yet de Camp still took it upon himself to drastically edit and alter the story, which he rewrote at least as extensively as the other two stories de Camp found at Oscar Friend's apartment. For example, here is the second paragraph of the story, as written by REH in his final draft (taken from the original typescript):

    "Arus stood in a vast corridor, lighted by huge candles in nitches along the walls. These walls were hung with black velvet tapestries, and between the tapestries hung shields and crossed weapons of fantastic make. Here and there too, stood figures of curious gods – images carved of stone or rare wood, or cast of bronze, iron or silver – dimly reflected in the gleaming black mahogany floor."
The same paragraph as re-written by de Camp (taken from the Lancer paperback):
    "The watchman stood in a vast corridor lighted by huge candles set in niches along the walls. Between the niches, these walls were covered with black velvet wall-hangings, and between the hangings hung shields and crossed weapons of fantastic make. Here and there, too, stood figures of curious gods--images carved of stone or rare woods, or cast in bronze, iron, or silver--dimly mirrored in the gleaming black floor."
Now de Camp actually rewrote this three times, apparently not even satisfied with his own rewriting. According to de Camp, in revising the stories for Lancer he supposedly tried to go back "as closely as possible" to REH (from his rewrite in the Gnome Press books)... and yet you can see for yourself that de Camp landed far from the mark.

"The God in the Bowl" was first published in Space Science Fiction magazine in September 1952. The story was subsequently published in hardback edition The Coming of Conan (Gnome Press, 1953), the Lancer/Ace paperback editions of Conan (1968), and The Tower of the Elephant (Donald M. Grant, 1975) which was reprinted in trade paperback (Grosset & Dunlap, 1978). The first appearance in print of the original, unedited story occured in Robert E. Howard's Conan of Cimmeria, Volume One (Wandering Star, 2002).

There are four Conan stories conspicuously missing from any true list of Robert E. Howard's Conan. These are:

  • "The Blood-Stained God,"
  • "Hawks Over Shem,"
  • "The Road of the Eagles," and
  • "The Flame Knife."

The reason why these four stories are not considered Conan yarns is because they were originally not Conan stories. These four tales were originally written by REH as historical/oriental adventure stories, and featured non-Conan characters with adventures set in Egypt, Turkey, and Afghanistan during the 9th, 14th, and 20th Centuries respectively. The original stories were never published in Howard's lifetime. L. Sprague de Camp discovered the unpublished manuscripts of these stories and rewrote them; changing the characters' names to Conan, deleting and adding place and setting information, and extensively re-working the plot and story-line so that four new "REH" Conan stories could be added to the Gnome Press Conan series in 1955. The rewritten stories were subsequently carried over into later publications, including the mass market Lancer/Ace Conan volumes. The original titles of the stories were "The Trail of the Blood-Stained God", "Hawks Over Egypt", "The Road of the Eagles", and "Three-Bladed Doom," respectively. Because these stories were not written by Howard to be Conan tales, they cannot be considered as authentic Conan stories.

Click on this link for a brief publication history that tells where to find both the re-written tales and the original, un-edited stories, as well as a brief synopsis describing the stories as they were originally written by Robert E. Howard.

Unpublished and Unblemished:

  • "The Vale of the Lost Women" - Spring 1967 Magazine of Horror

"The Vale of the Lost Women" was written by Howard around the same time as "The God Iin the Bowl". It was also rejected by Weird Tales magazine, and then lost to the world for about 30 years. The manuscript of the story was discovered in 1964 by the then REH literary agent, Glenn Lord, in the famous missing Howard chest along with 5 other story fragments and synopsii. De Camp asserts that "The Vale of the Lost Women" was the only "complete" story in the bunch.

"The Vale of Lost Women" suffered less from editing than the other unpublished tales. Robert A.W. Lowndes, the editor of Magazine of Horror, No. 15 (in which it first appeared in Spring 1967) did not feel called upon to "improve" the story by rewriting, as someone else might have. He did make changes, though, but for the most part it's not real drastic stuff. De Camp and Grant introduced a few minor changes, to fix typos etc. The story was susequently published in Conan of Cimmeria (Lancer/Ace, 1969), and Queen of the Black Coast (Donald M. Grant, 1978), and in Robert E. Howard's Conan of Cimmeria, Volume One (Wandering Star, 2002).

Howard Re-writes:

One of the first Conan stories Howard ever wrote was a revision of an unsold story utilizing another character. This story was, "By This Axe I Rule!", featuring Howard's other barbarian, Kull. Howard re-wrote this yarn into the very first Conan tale, "The Phoenix on the Sword."

As stated above, two complete Conan stories were rejected by Weird Tales after Howard submitted them. Howard decided that his stories were good enough to be salvaged and re-wrote both stories for submission to different magazines. "The Black Stranger" was rewritten into a straight pirates' tale and retitled "Swords of the Red Brotherhood. " This story was not published until 1976. "The Frost Giant's Daughter" was rewriten and retitled "The Gods of the North," and was published during Howard's lifetime in The Fantasy Fan magazine, March 1934.


As a curiosity for Conan fans, Thoth Amon's demonic ring re-surfaces in the 1930's and becomes the focal point for an adventure featuring two of Howard's modern day adventurers: John Gordon, a wealthy sportsman, and John Kirowan. The story, "The Haunter of the Ring," was written by Howard and can be found in Weird Tales (June 1934), Startling Mystery Stories (Winter 1968/69), Black Canaan published by Berkley (1978) and Beyond the Borders which is the 7th volume of the Robert E. Howard Library series published by Baen Books (1996).

The following items warrant mention, not because they are Conan stories, but because they deal with the world and background in which the Conan stories were set:

  • "Cimmeria" (poem) - first published in The Howard Collector - Winter 1965. (Note: only The Howard Collector, Dark Valley Destiny, The Conan Chronicles Volume 2: The Hour Of The Dragon, and Robert E. Howard's Conan of Cimmeria Volume One have the complete version, all other printings omitted the last stanza)

  • "The Hyborian Age" (essay) - first published as a 3-part serial in The Phantagraph magazine - February, August, October-November 1936 (Note: This version is incomplete)

  • “Notes on Various Peoples of the Hyborian Age” (notes) - First published in the Gazeteer of the Hyborian World of Conan, Starmont House, 1977 (also reprinted by Borgo Press, 1991)

  • “List of Hyborian Names and Countries” (notes) - First published in Robert E. Howard’s Conan of Cimmeria Volume One (Wandering Star, 2002)

  • Robert E. Howard's Hand Drawn Maps of the Hyborian Age World - First published in Robert E. Howard’s Conan of Cimmeria Volume One (Wandering Star, 2002)


Additional sources for the preceding information were:
The Last Celt: A Bio-Bibliography of Robert E. Howard, by Glenn Lord, DM Grant, 1976;
Dark Valley Destiny: The Life of Robert E. Howard, by L. Sprague de Camp, Catherine Cook de Camp, and Jane Whittington, Bluejay Books, 1983;
Echoes of Valor II, edited by Karl Edward Wagner, Tor Books, 1989; The Dark Man #1, edited by Rusty Burke, Necronomicon Press, 1990.

Go Back To Main Page
and Issues
and Helpful Info
and Comics
Film and
and Groups

and Sounds
The Lord of
this Keep
Other Conan &
REH Web Sites
Page created by The KeepMaster