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Shadows in Zamboula

Robert E. Howard

Book Overview: 

Despite a warning received in the Suq by an elderly desert nomad, Conan stays the night in a cheap tavern in Zamboula, run by Aram Baksh. As night falls, a black Darfarian cannibal enters to drag him away to be eaten. All of the Darfar slaves in the city are cannibals who roam the streets at night. As they only prey on travellers, the people of the city tolerate this and stay locked securely in their homes, while nomads and beggars make sure to spend the night at a comfortable distance from its walls. This night, however, Conan finds a naked woman chasing through the streets after her deranged lover; Conan rescues them from an attack by the cannibals. She tells him that she tried to secure her lover's unending affection via a love potion which instead made a raving lunatic of him. Promising Conan "a reward" in return for his assistance, they attempt to kill the high priest responsible for the man's madness. (Summary by Wikipedia)

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Zamboula have done for all the centuries its towers and minarets have lifted over the sands of the Kharamun.

Bronze lanterns, carved with leering dragons, had been lighted in the streets before Conan reached the house of Aram Baksh. The tavern was the last occupied house on the street, which ran west. A wide garden, enclosed by a wall, where date-palms grew thick, separated it from the houses farther east. To the west of the inn stood another grove of palms, through which the street, now become a road, wound out into the desert. Across the road from the tavern stood a row of deserted huts, shaded by straggling palm trees, and occupied only by bats and jackals. As Conan came down the road he wondered why the beggars, so plentiful in Zamboula, had not appropriated these empty houses for sleeping quarters. The lights ceased some distance behind him. Here were no lanterns, except the one hanging before the tavern gate: only the stars, the soft dust of the road underf. . . Read More

Community Reviews

In the racially mixed westernmost point of the mighty Turanian empire, 'the people went their way, flaunting their myriad colors in the streets, bargaining, disputing, gambling, swilling, loving, as the people of Zamboula have done for all the centuries its towers and minarets have lifted over the s

Howard's swashbuckling hero was more the Conan I prefer - that of the wandering mercenary and thief, than that of a leader of an army or pirate. As always, the writing is superb, with a rhythm and vocabulary that grips you from the very first sentence. Like so much of Howard's work, Shadows in Zambo

A fantastic Conan story filled with surprises and ulterior motives. Keeps you guessing all the way through, with appealing characters with hints of backstories that'll keep your brain wandering for the rest of the evening after reading it.

Also, pretty gory and horrific.

It's pretty short, too, so it

A fun listen from Librovox. Conan is in fine form here. Brash, violent, vengeful, and devious.

Of note about Howard's writing. At the time, his description of the voluptous dancer would have been very provocative and remains very vivid and salacious. The descriptions of blacks in the story is again

This was a great Conan story. Plenty of muscle a lots of guile. Plus a nice twist at the the end.

Good stuff!

So, although I'm mid-thirties, this was the first Conan story I've ever read. Not my fault, really, as I just didn't grow up with this stuff, and was never really interested in fantasy, as a genre. That being said, somehow I became interested in REH a while back, and now, I can't believe

I'm really enjoying these Conan books. Some people think Conan was harsh at the end of this book. I think justice was served. What do you think?

A story moment stuck with me for life: not only are the locks meant to keep Conan in, but they are also expected to(view spoiler)[ keep cannibals contained as needed. If memory serves, a similar device is used in The Shadow Over Innsmouth This causes me to check lock security when I sleep in strange places. It's b (hide spoiler)]

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