Conan the Invincible is a novel written by Robert Jordan, first published by Tor in 1982.
Conan trails stolen amulets and kidnapped slave girls into the Kezankian mountains, encountering the Zamoran army, Pictish Hillmen, and the bandit known as Karela the Red Hawk and her companion Hordo, all in an effort to stop the evil sorceror Amanar and his army of lizardmen.
In the Kezankian mountains, the sorceror Amanar is interrupted in a sacrificial ritual to the demon-god Morath-Aminee, Eater of Souls, by the news that an enchanted item vital to him has been brought to Shadizar as a gift from Turan's King Yildiz.
In Shadizar, Conan lies in bed with the prostitute Semiramis, but soon offends her when he says he wants her for himself alone, and she goes downstairs to ply her trade in the tavern of Abuletes, much to Conan's annoyance. Conan turns to observe the patrons, and Abuletes speaks with Conan about recent caravan raids, allegedly by the mysterious Red Hawk, which threaten to bring Zamoran law down harshly on Shadizar. The conversation is interrupted when an Iranistani propositions a soothsayer and is rejected, and the ensuing brawl ends with three Iranistani dead, Semiramis heading upstairs with a client, and Conan getting drunk in a corner.
Conan ponders his next thieving target when he is approached by the merchant Ankar with a 10,000 gold piece job - the theft of five pendants given to King Tiridates by Yildiz as a gift upon the drawing of a treaty between the two kingdoms. Ankar leaves to his residence, revealing himself to be the Stygian sorceror Imhep-Aton. He communicates with Thoth-Amon, who orders him to get revenge on Amanar and One Whose Name Will Not Be Spoken.
Conan waits outside the palace until he spots an opportunity to scale the garden walls. He quickly moves through the garden to the palace itself and climbs the marble wall into a balcony. He finds himself in the room of the slave girl Velita, part of the gift from King Yildiz. She begs Conan to help her flee, and he agrees, especially when he discovers that Velita and four other slave girls bear the five pendants he is looking for. Conan tells Velita to gather the women together and he will return the next day to rescue them all. Before he can leave, he encounters and is forced to kill a guard. He disposes of the body far away from Velita's chambers and flees the palace grounds.
The next morning, Conan visits Abuletes and learns of an attack on the castle - one that left the king's counselor and a dozen guards dead, the slave girls with their pendants kidnapped. Conan ponders his options - he certainly wants the 10,000 gold he was offered, and he also gave Velita his word to save her. He finds the merchant Ampartes who gossips on every event known in Shadizar, finally reaching a point of interest to Conan: a band of pilgrims from Argos, carrying five coffins for those who had died on their journey. Conan deduces the coffins are being used to transport the slave girls, and after learning they head for the Kezankian Mountains, he retreives his horse and follows.
Captain Haranides, newly arrived in Shadizar, is recruited by King Tiridates and his new counselor Aharesus to find who kidnapped the slave girls and pendants. While the king is only worried about the affront to his person, the shrewder Aharesus wonders if the death of the previous counselor was part of a larger plot against the kingdom, perhaps by Yildiz himself. The only clue was one of the captured kidnappers screamed the name of the Red Hawk, and Aharesus believes a group of pilgrims who left the city were the Red Hawk's men. Haranides leaves to follow the pilgrims. Meanwhile, word of the massacre has reached Imhep-Aton, and, not knowing of the second invaders, suspects Conan took everything and has fled. He, too, heads into the mountains.
Conan stops at a well and questions a small band of men about the pilgrims. He notices that they have a red-haired woman bound, but is only interested in his goal. Still, the men attack him and he easily defeats them and frees the woman, Karela, who, humiliated that she was taken unawares by the men, defiantly attacks Conan to prove her strength. Conan quickly stops her, and their fight turns to passion. She reveals she knows where the pilgrims are headed, and Conan warily allows her to accompany him.
Though Conan is suspicious of treachery, they get through the first night together on the road without incident. The next day however, the woman breaks away and reveals herself to be Karela the Red Hawk, and she has led Conan to her camp and called forth her bandits, including her lieutenant, Hordo. The bandits rush and hold Conan down, dragging him to their camp, beating and kicking him, finally tying him to four stakes in the ground. Conan desperately tries to turn the bandits with tales of the pendants and reward money, and finally, the bandits, led by a thief named Aberius, become curious as to why Hordo won't let Conan say his peace about the treasure. Conan thinks he might have a chance of turning the bandit horde but Karela puts an end to that and scatters the bandits, reasserting her authority. Conan remains tied to the stakes in the burning sun.
That night as Karela's band lies drunk or asleep, Conan finds within him reserves of strength to pry the stakes from the ground. He sneaks around the camp retrieving what possessions he can,but just as he is about to make his escape, an armored man brazenly enters camp calling Conan's name - this is Crato, a servant of Imhep-Aton, and he has come looking for Conan and the pendants. Imhep-Aton's voice (though Conan still knows him as Ankar) comes through Crato's lips and when Conan says they were taken, Crato attacks. Conan kills the possessed man, but finds himself at the mercy of Karela again, though now the rest of the brigands believe Conan's story of the pendant and 20,000 gold reward. Karela decides to back Conan and the bandits strike camp in preparation of following the pilgrims.
Haranides marches with his cavalry, bristling at the attitude of his second-in-command Aheranetes, when his scouts find signs of the Red Hawk's camp. Investigating, he finds Crato's body, evidence of just over fifty horses, and poorly concealed tracks that lead into the Kezankian Mountains, but not along the normal caravan routes, and a jug of perfume, which makes Haranides question exactly who he is pursuing. He tells his men to follow the trail.
High in the mountains, Conan and the bandits notice the soldiers at about a day's journey behind them, and an argument breaks out about what they should do. Karela is not convinced the soldiers are after them and orders her men to set up camp. Conan believes that soldiers are after the pendants also, but Karela believes it just as likely the soldiers are after her for the recent caravan robberies, which she also claims she and her bandits were not involved with. Wandering off, Conan ponders this bit of information when he begins to feel a tingle of magic, and he knows the sorceror is pursuing him. He goes to tell Karela in her tent, and, though hounded by the suspicious Hordo, is taken into her bed.
Amanar casts a spell in his sanctuary and then goes to meet the "pilgrims," actually robed Saurians who had a glamour placed upon them (since worn off) to look like humans. They have brought the pendants and by extension, the girls. Amanar ponders the benefits of sacrificing the girls when Velita brazenly tells him Conan will find and rescue them. An amused Amanar tells his Saurian henchmen to bring back Conan's skin.
Conan and Hordo notice they are being watched from the hills, and word comes that a horde of Kezankian hillmen of well over 100 lay ahead, moving toward them. Trapped between the soldiers and the hillmen, Conan orders many of the bandits into a side canyon while he, Karela, Hordo and a few others plan to goad the two armies into attacking each other. Conan and his companions encounter the hillmen, who immediately give chase. Conan turns and attacks the hillmen head on, soon joined by Karela, who, at Conan's insistence, is finaly dragged away by Hordo while Conan wades into the horde.
After sufficiently annoying the hillsmen, Conan turns and rejoins his fleeing comrades just in time to run into the Zamorian soldiers, led by Haranides. Conan spins a tale of being an ambushed caravan guard. Haranides is slightly suspicious, but the approaching hillman horde pulls his attention. As the two armies clash, Conan and the others sneak away. When they meet up with the rest of the bandits, a furious Karela makes Conan swear that he won't save her again, and Aberius tells how he witnessed a fire-breathing snake-like humanoid spying on the bandits. They warily camp for the night, intending on picking up the trail tomorrow.
Karela gets into a very public argument with Conan, who wants to leave immediately on the trail. Conan feels the prickling of the sorcerer again, but suddenly a snakeman lunges from the dark at Conan. The camp is soon full of the creatures and a ruthless battle breaks out and the bandits win, though they lose 15 souls and have captured two snakemen. Karela decides to abandon the quest, but changes her mind when Conan reveals he will continue. However, her bandits, led by Aberius, want to return to the plains. Conan manages to turn the bandits back towards the quest and Karela while Imhep-Aton magically observes.
Amanar watches the dancing girls dance for their lives, one already having been sacrificed. Sitha reports that intruders approach and Amanar turns to a magical mirror to scrye upon the valley. He sees the bandits and calls upon Velita to identify Conan. She refuses, only to be whipped by Sitha. Amanar summons a winged ape-demon, Zath, to find out who the large man and woman in the mirror are, and settles to watch Zath fly the reasonably surprised bandits in the mirror. Zath soon returns with the information - Conan and Karela, and Amanar releases him to finish off the wounded saurian that the bandits have been following. Soon the party finds the scavenged remains of the Saurian but continue undeterred along the trail.
Having defeated the hillmen, Haranides inspects the camp. He has realized he had encountered the Red Hawk, which frustrates him, and worries that it has given ammunition to Aheranetes. His men find an odd mass grave but before they can investigate, they find the body of a Saurian. They turn to a hillman prisoner for information who tells them that the hillman tribes gathered to fight the S'tarra saurians who had been kidnapping tribesmen and taking them to their stone fortress. His hatred of the saurians is so strong, he offers to lead Haranides straight to them. Haranides suspects that the Red Hawk is heading there to, but Aheranetes panics and refuses to fight the demons. He draws his sword and attacks Haranides, who reluctantly kills the cowardly noble. The men agree that poor Aheranetes died bravely in the battle with the hillmen.
Continuing through the mountains, Conan notes they are being watched and followed from both sides of the cliffs. Preparing for the worst, they round a bend and find a small group of lizardmen hoisting a seated Amanar on an ivory throne. Suddenly, hundreds of saurians pour from the mountains and surround the bandits, though Amanar insists he is simply a cautious host, offering the travellers shelter in his keep. Karela accepts the invitation.
After the party arrives at Amanar's keep, Conan and Karela are invited in while the others camp outside. They sit in his dining hall, served by mostly saurians and the occasional human, and Amanar casually reveals he knows the identity of his guests, startling them both. The sorceror also states that he knows why they are here, searching for the dancing girls and pendants, but he claims to have neither. Karela believes him, though Conan is suspicious. Amanar insists he speaks to them in friendship, offering them haven from the soldiers in return for performing some acts of thievery in the future. After a tour of the keep, the two return to their comrades, Karela intrigued by the offer of a base of operations, but Conan determined that Amanar is a liar and hiding the girls and pendants.
Conan shares a bottle with a frustrated Hordo that night, then under cover of darkness returns to the keep. After climbing the wall he notes the bandit Talbor has the same idea and is already sneaking inside the keep. Conan makes his way to the donjon and discovers Velita's cell. She reveals she has several spells on her preventing her escape and even her suicide, that only one other girl besides her remains alive, and the location of the pendants. Conan also discovers that Amanar is on his way to visit the bandits, so he is forced to leave Velita behind and return to camp lest the sorceror suspect anything.
Conan returns to the bandit camp to a great drunken revel. Amanar is suspicious of Conan's disappearance, and Conan is suspicious of Amanar's arm around Karela. Before matters can escalate, Sitha appears with a private message that requires Amanar to return to his keep. Before he leaves, Karela takes him up on his offer of protection, but Conan tells her that Amanar has been lying - he does have the pendants and slave girls. Karela doesn't care, and Conan and Hordo are left pondering their next move.
The next morning, Conan tells Hordo about Talbor's actions the previous night and if that is the matter Aramar left to deal with. Sitha enters the camp with a personal challenge to Conan - a test of strength. He challenges Hordo and then two bandits together to lift a stone, but they cannot. He then picks the stone up, walks ten paces , and drops it. Conan accepts the challenge, manages to pick up the stone, but walks past the original resting place and drops the stone there, much to the chagrin of Aberius, who laid odds against Conan's success. Suddenly, a gong peals forth from the fortress and Sitha scrambles back to the keep. Minutes later, a horde of 300 S'tarra emerge in full armor and head into the valley. The bandits watch in silent awe when, some time later, the S'tarra return from a battle with no casualties and twenty horses with wrapped bundles. Conan wonders just who the lizardmen fought, but has no time as he is setting to sneak back into the keep. Hordo confides that he plans to take Karela away from here whether she wants to or not, and the two silently ride back towards the camp.
Karela is whipping the bandits into a frenzy, promising them gold and protection, and Conan takes the opportunity to slip away. Unforunately, he is ambushed by Imhep-Aton. They are both then set upon by a party of S'tarra. Conan slays three but hears more coming, so he rushes back to camp, leaving the sorceror to fend for himself. Soon, Sitha arrives and demands to search the camp and question the bandits, but Karela stubbornly rebuffs him. Conan tells Hordo what happened, unaware that Aberius overhears them.
The next morning, Conan is summoned to the keep by Karela, but when he arrives he finds a confused Karela and a gloating Amanar, who had actually called for Conan, and has been told by Aberius that Conan slew his S'tarra. When Amanar allows Conan to beg for his life, the barbarian attacks, leaping through a cloud the sorceror summons and plunging his sword into Amanar's chest. Then, Conan collapses in magical paralysis as Amanar casually removes the sword from his chest. Amanar reveals he knew Conan's plans all along, as Velita was magically compelled to tell her what she knew. Amanar summons Sitha to drag Conan's unconscious body to the donjon.
Sitha brings Conan to Ort, Anamar's torturer. who is astonished that Conan is starting to shake off the magical vapor. Conan is tossed into a cell which also contains Harinades, who had been captured in the raid Conan witnessed. Conan silently muses on how to kill a man that can't be hurt by weapons, deciding ultimately that the Verlita's amulet has to be the key. Soon, Hordo, who poked around after Conan disappeared, is dragged into the cell as well. Amanar taunts Conan by telling him he plans to use than kill Velita that night. Hordo tells how he spied Karela dancing naked for Amanar which sent him into a rage, landing him in the cell. Harinades and Hordo are at each other's throat, but Conan calms them down, intending to escape, but then just goes to sleep.
Karela awakens, naked, ina bedroom in Amanar's keep. She's more than a little surprised, and then becomes angry when she is told by a slave-girl that Hordo is imprisoned for attempting to rescue Conan. The girl leads Karela to the donjon and threatens Ort into opening the cell and speaking with Hordo. Hordo begs her to flee the keep immediately, but Karela refuses, determined to have Hordo freed. She goes to find Amanar, interrupting him in the middle of a dark ritual. The sorceror magically compels Karela to toss her sword aside and stand still, watching as he sacrifices the Turanian slave-girl Susa and summons a demon.
Conan is awakened when Ort arrives to torture and question one of the men. Conan cowers away to draw Ort in, then whips his chains around the fat man's neck, killing him while the torturer attempts to burn Conan with a fiery poker. He breaks free of his chains and helps the other men escape. Harinades goes to release his remaining men while Hordo goes to rally the bandits. Both men will await Conan's signal - he will light the highest tower of the keep on fire. Wary of Amanar's magical traps, Conan heads toward Amanar's room, but finds it empty. He finds Velita's amulet and his sword, though, and when he turns to leave finds Sitha. The S'tarra tells Conan Velita is about to be sacrificed, and the two fight, Conan ultiamtely beheading the creature. The fight ignites the chemicals and powders in the room. He runs to a window, and is startled to see the valley filled with thousands of fighting S'tarra and hillmen. He races down to the sacrificial chamber and confronts Amanar, who is startled to see Conan with the amulet. Suddenly, Imhep-Aton appears and tells Conan that the amulet contains Amanar's soul, and that destroying it would destroy the sorceror's protection against the Eater of Souls, a demon which is slowly appearing the mist. Amanar magically paralyzes Conan in order to prevent him from smashing the amulet, and the tentacled beast lunges for Imhep-Aton, squeezing the Stygian to a pulp and devouring his soul. Conan overpowers Amanar's spell and destroys the amulet. The Eater of Souls greedily turns to Amanar and envelops him, while Conan grabs Velita and flees. The valley is a bloodbath as the S'tarra attack everything, including themselves, in madness, and Conan manages to meet up with a handful of Zamoran soldiers. The small party fights their way out of the valley as an earthquake collapses the keep and reshapes the mountains. At the bandit camp, Hordo and the remaining bandits resign themselves to Karela's death and they all depart.
Conan arranges caravan transportation for Velita, using nearly the last of his money, and is surprised to see Karela naked and chained to a slaver's cart. She had escaped before the earthquake struck, stolen a horse, and been captured by slavers. She begs Conan to buy her free, but Conan, remembering his promise not to help her again, leaves her to her fate and rides to Shadizar.
- Amanar the Necromancer*
- Sitha, Saurian henchman*
- Tewfik, Turanian servant
- Semiramis, Zamoran prostitute
- Abuletes, Zamoran tavern owner
- Imhep-Aton (also Ankar), Stygian sorceror*
- Crato, Shemite servant of Imhep-Aton*
- Velita, Turanian slave-girl
- Ampartes, Zamoran merchant
- Tiridates, King of Zamora
- Aharesus, Zamoran counselor
- The Zamoran army
- Haranides, Zamoran cavalry captain
- Aheranetes, Zamoran soldier and Haranides's second in command*
- Resaro, Zamoran cavalryman
- Caresus, Zamoran cavalryman
- The Bandits
- Susa, Turanian slave girl*
- Surassa, Turanian slave girl*
- Zath, demon
- Ort, torturer*
* dies in this story
- Conan is "not yet nineteen."
Conan the Magnificent
|Conan the Invincible||Next Story:|
"The Hall of the Dead"
|Robert Jordan Chronology|
Conan the Magnificent
|Conan the Invincible||Next Story:|
"The Hall of the Dead"
|William Galen Gray Chronology|
Conan the Magnificent
|Conan the Invincible||Next Story:|
"The Hall of the Dead"