I am listening to the Conan audio-books off of Audible and its really amazing.
“Know, oh prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was an age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars–Nemedia, Ophir, Brythunia, Hyperborea, Zamora with its dark-haired women and towers of spider-haunted mystery, Zingara with its chivalry, Koth that bordered on the pastoral lands of Shem, Stygia with its shadow-guarded tombs, Hyrkania whose riders wore steel and silk and gold. But the proudest kingdom of the world was Aquilonia, reigning supreme in the dreaming west.
Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.”
–The Nemedian Chronicles.
It feels like a solid time to talk about why I feel the latest Conan the Barbarian movie failed and what my Conan trilogy would look like.
Conan tried to use world-building and exposition that was a terrible aping of the Lord of the Rings movies. Morgan Freeman’s introduction wasn’t there to inspire and let us know of an age of adventure as Mako did but was there to offer a clumsy exposition. The villains were 80’s video-game end-of-level bosses (and not in a fun way) and the writing was weak.
So, here’s how I would do it.
Film #1: Conan the Thief
No vengeance for a dead village, just a dirty, wide-eyed kid in an ancient, filthy metropolis, the City of Thieves. He’s away from home for the first time and is stealing for sorcerous towers so that he can eat because there is no honest way to make a living in these alien urban places. The first film is a heist, a sorcerer dabbling in alien magicks and Conan leading a band of desperate thieves into a tower. There is a hint of a great leader here, a sign of what is to come.
Film #2: Conan the King
We skip ahead to a scarred, bearded Conan on the throne of Aquilonia. We see Conan trying to hold a throne, having a family. It is the same kind of struggle, Conan versus a plotting sorcerer but the stakes are so much higher and the ways of court are not the ways of the City of Thieves or reaving on the high seas. Also established in this we hear lots of rumors, terrible slander and fell legends about what happened to Conan between the first film and the second and how he took the throne.
Film #3: Conan the Barbarian
The first fifteen minutes of the film are the end of Conan’s reaving days on the seas and the rest is how he came to lead a mercenary company and take Aquilonia. We find the truth and lies hinted at in the second film and see the evolution between Thief and King.