Conan was born in Cimmeria, a northern kingdom of barbarians, among the Snowhawk tribe. All of his chronicled adventures take place in the Hyborian Age. At the age of fifteen, Conan fought in the Battle of Venarium. After this, Conan, went on several adventures as chronicled in the The Nemedian Chronicles, and eventually came to be the king of Aquilonia, one of the most powerful kingdoms of the Hyborian age.
He battled for, with, and/or against numerous factions (including most of the nations of the Hyborian world, among them Aquilonia, multiple Corinthian city-states, Turan, Zingara, the Aesir, and the Picts), he fought alongside other adventurers, thieves, and pirates such as Bêlit and the Black Corsairs, the Kozaki and the Vilayet Pirates, Juma, Red Sonja, the Zuagirs, the Red Brotherhood, Zula, and Fafnir, among many others.
He battled numerous sorcerers and cults (among them the Stygian wizards Thoth-Amon and Kulan Gath, and the Witch-Men of Hyperborea), monsters, gods, and demons (including some of the Old Ones), and was helped as well by many of those, including the priest of Ibis Karanthes, the sorcerer and half-god Zukala, the albino sorcerer-king Elric of Melniboné, and the god Mitra.
After many years of ruling Aquilonia, Conan abdicated in favor of his son, Conn, and departed across the Western Ocean to investigate mysterious forces which menaced Aquilonia, and discover new lands to explore, such as Antillia, the isle of Na'at, Mayapan, and possibly Zothique. His ultimate fate is not recorded.
Conan followed a rough code of honor throughout his life. Although willing to engage in acts of thievery and mercenary work, he remained loyal to those he genuinely saw as comrades. Conan was an unrepentant womanizer for much of his life, but he remained respectful of women. He was at times shocked by how "civilized" people of his era sold their daughters and treated them like property. His code prohibited his slaying of female.
Conan was a fiercely proud man, preferring death to surrender. As a young man, Conan would kill a man for insulting him, although by middle-age he had mellowed somewhat to the point that he allowed the poet Reinaldo to vilify him in ballads, partially out of a belief that poets were more powerful than monarchs, and partially out of fondness for the mad poet’s art.
As king of Aquilonia, Conan showed genuine love and concern for his subjects. He once boasted that under his rule "no Aquilonian noble dares maltreat the humblest of [his] subjects."
While Conan was considered a usurper king due to his lack of royal ancestry, he considered himself better than several hereditary monarchs of his era, and mocked their "divine right to rule:
"Gleaming shell of an outworn lie; fable of Right divine
You gained your crowns by heritage, but Blood was the price of mine.
The throne that I won by blood and sweat, by Crom, I will not sell
For promise of valleys filled with gold, or threat of the Halls of Hell!"
Conan mated or shared romantic interest with Tara,[verification needed] Moira,[verification needed] Jenna, Queen Zenoria of Aquiloria (the wife of an alternate version of himself), Naia, Queen Fatima of Zahmahn, Queen Melissandra of Makkalet,[verification needed] Bêlit, and Queen Vammatar of Hyperborea.
Queen Isadona of Sakyara, Zamora, intended to share a night with her, but rejected him when he mentioned having done it in the past with Queen Vammatar.
He eventually married Zenobia, and never gave his love to another woman, but had some intimacy with other women.
While searching for her after she had been captured, Conan rejected the betrothal proposal from Yasmina, but spent the night with her, and soon afterwards made love with Kang Lou-Dze, a Khitan slave he had just rescued. He mated with Cynnera who had offered him to be her queen while he was infiltrating her cult of Pentagar Zek.
Conan stated that he worshiped Crom only, whom he regularly invoked. However, he invoked the names of the Cimmerian gods, other Tuatha de Danaan, such as Morrigan, Macha and Nemain, Mannanan Mac lir, Badb, but also "all the gods of the Frozen North", and other gods, such as Mitra (even sometimes invoked as "Holy Mitra") and Ishtar, whom he personally met and helped (despite doubting her godhood). He sometimes invoked the names of Ymir, Bel, and Erlik.
Early in his career, Conan was told by the priest of Mitra Ixastophanis to learn and speak the names of other deities than the northern gods, to flatter them, that they might welcome the attention if they truly exist, and no harm done if they didn't.
Still, short after that time, he sometimes disdained other people's invocations of Mitra (despite his later frequent invocations of his name and later confession that he would light a candle to Mitra if he was able to slay a monster by the blade alone), and of Tarim (as well as his idols), but was admirative when Fafnir's invocations of Ymir, Bragi, and the Gods of the North when he seemingly accomplished a feat of great strength. and hearing that were several times more acute than those of a "civilized" human.
- Wilderness Instinct: Having been raised as a barbarian, Conan had time from birth to nurture a survival instinct lost to most other humans. This very instinct had saved his life on many occasions, making him an even more formidable warrior.
- Master Warrior: Conan was a highly formidable armed and unarmed combatant. He had been trained to use most weapons available to his time with great ability. His skill, brutality and intensity was unsurpassed and he had been shown to kill highly skilled and armed opponents by the score, whether armed or bare-handed. Conan possessed skills at arms way over the hardiest of his race. He learned the use of a bow while in Hyrkania.
- Master Athlete: In addition to his raw strength, Conan was trained and experienced in a variety of athletic fields, including swimming, mountaineering, and horseback riding. Conan frequently performed feats that other men considered impossible, such a small scaling nearly-sheer cliff faces.
- Master Tactician and Strategist: Conan was a born leader and commander of men. His vast experiences in battle gave him considerable tactical and strategic knowledge.
- Multi-Lingual: Conan was exceptionally intelligent and able to speak, read and write multiple modern and ancient languages: enough Hyperborean to be understood, ZIngaran (which he could read), Ophirean, Pictish, though he wasn't fluent, Stygian, Shemite (or Shem) (including some of its offshoots), Pelishtic, (he could even decipher a few informations from a scroll in archaic Pelishtic), pretty bad Hyrkanian (including Hyrkanian dialects) and "never too good" Zamorian. He stated he had mastered Amazon, he seemingly master the tongue of Darfar, and was able to talk with someone who spoke in a tongue similar on the Seventh Isle of Doom. He also was familiar with a some Kushite dialects, though not all. He spoke Khitan with ease (though in later days, his accents were stated to be strange). He learned the language of Antillia. He also recognized accents and intonations in other languages. He knew to read Thelic.
- Master of Stealth: As he was raised in a wilderness environment, Conan possessed sufficient stealth to surprise forest animals. This was further honed during Conan's career as a thief. He was also able to move with little noise.
Whatever the situation called for at the time.
A wide variety of bladed weapons, though he usually preferred a two-handed Broadsword.
Conan generally traveled on horseback.
He has traveled on various ships, including the Wastrel, the Tigress, the Hawk, the Winged Dragon, and the Red Lion.
Creation and licensing
- Conan was created by Robert E. Howard in 1932, and first appeared in "The Phoenix on the Sword" (Weird Tales; December, 1932). Howard actually based this story on the unpublished Kull story "By This Axe I Rule!", written in 1929, but unpublished until 1967.
- Conan is the licensed property of Paradox Entertainment, Inc. and its affiliated company, Conan Properties International LLC.
- It was later licensed by Marvel Comics, then was under license to Dark Horse Comics from 2000 to 2018, and finally returned to Marvel Comics in January 2019.
- While Conan as a character is still claimed to be protected under copyright and owned by various companies, most of the original Conan stories by Robert E. Howard (d. 1936) were published over 80 years ago and are considered to have passed into the public domain. Several of them are available to read online at websites such as Project Gutenberg and Wikisource, which cover public domain works. However, Howard stories which were published posthumously are probably still under copyright. In the case of several incomplete or unpublished Howard stories which were completed, edited, or otherwise modified by other writers, following his death and prior to their original publication, they are all still under copyright and will continue to be so for several decades.
- Conan's creator Robert E. Howard intended for his stories to follow Conan's long life and career from early life to old age, but never intended to create or publish the stories in chronological order. The original Conan story "The Phoenix on the Sword" (1932) introduced Conan as a middle-aged man who had recently claimed the throne of Aquilonia and faced assassination plots. The short story "The Scarlet Citadel" (1933) and the novel "The Hour of the Dragon" (1936) also feature King Conan facing efforts to depose him, foreign invasions, and an attempt to restore a long-dead empire. But these are the only stories to follow this example. The rest of the Conan tales by Howard feature a younger or much younger Conan, and jump back and forth in time. The chronological clues are sometimes clear and other times vague, leading to various Conan scholars coming up with contradictory timelines for the events depicted. For example, it is generally agreed that the short story "The Tower of the Elephant" (1933), which features a novice Conan who is still new to civilization, takes place very early in Conan's life. Most estimates have him being a teenager in this story, though there are disagreements on whether he is underage or just entering adulthood. Meanwhile the chronological clues in the short story "The Frost-Giant's Daughter" (1932), where Conan faces a daughter of Ymir in the far north of the Hyborian world, are vague to non-existent. Other Conan scholars have placed this as the chronologically earliest Conan story with Conan barely 15 or 16 years-old, while others argue that it features an experienced Conan who is at least in his 30s. This style of storytelling has influenced the Marvel version of the Conan tales, where stories were also not published in chronological order. Various Marvel writers have attempted to give chronological clues as to where to place their stories in Conan's timeline, while others did not even try and their stories feature no actual clues about their placement.
- Following the death of Robert E. Howard in 1936, a large number of writers have written additional Conan short stories and novels. Among them were Björn Nyberg, L. Sprague de Camp, Lin Carter, Andrew J. Offutt, Karl Edward Wagner, Poul Anderson, Robert Jordan, John Maddox Roberts, Steve Perry, Leonard Carpenter, Roland Green, Sean A. Moore, John C. Hocking, Harry Turtledove, Loren L. Coleman, Richard A. Knaak, Jeff Mariotte, and Michael A. Stackpole. Their works form an extended canon of Conan literature, and they have often added their personal vision of the Hyborian world in each book. Marvel Comics has licensed and adapted at least part of these works, and also several of the original characters introduced in them. In some cases, like with Isparana (an Andrew J. Offutt creation), the characters went on to make many more appearances than the mere adaptation of the original novel.
- In Marvel Comics, some stories are adaptations of other works of Robert E. Howard, or from other writers, in which the main protagonist is replaced by Conan. The replacement is sometimes homaged in the story:
- The current list of Conan literary stories in chronological order starts with the novel "Conan of Venarium" (2003) and ends with the novel "Conan of the Isles" (1968). The first features Conan when 14 or 15 years-old and taking part in the Battle of Venarium, the event which Robert E. Howard mentioned as Conan's first battle but never fully depicted. The second features Conan in his 60s, abdicating the throne of Aquilonia in favor of his grown-up son, having one last recorded adventure in the Western Ocean (the Hyborian name for the Atlantic Ocean) and the Antillian Isles, and sailing further west towards the Americas. Marvel Comics has at times depicted events involving the Battle of Venarium in their stories, and flashback tales to Conan's childhood and early teenage years. It has also adapted the "Conan of the Isles" novel and published at least one tale which serves as its sequel, "The Necromancers of Na'at" in Conan the Savage #10 (May, 1996). It has Conan losing all his crew but continuing to sail towards the Americas.
- In "Song of the Dead", Savage Sword of Conan #124, Kull and his soldiers witness inscription of the story of a mighty warrior whose totem is the lion defending his homeland from invaders, slaying a king and stealing his crown to rule a mighty land from a throne in a wondrous city, until something slew the king and his followers, and ruled a barren wasteland. Kull rejects it as his history, noting that his totem is the tiger and not the lion, and that he doesn't comes from a "land of mountains and ice". The "Mighty Warrior" could be Conan, who fought his homeland invaders (presumably the Aquilonians and Gundermen of Venarium, or possibly the Picts, Hyperboreans or Vanir), slew King Numedides of Aquilonia, stole his crown and ruled Aquilonia from Tarantia. However, the end of the warrior, killed while being a king, doesn't fit with the last known adventures of Conan.
- In the first Conan story, "The Phoenix on the Sword":
- Epemitreus the Sage (a good sorcerer who has been supposedly dead for 1500 years) grants Conan a magical symbol to use against dark magic. It is the symbol of the Phoenix on Conan's sword. Marvel has adapted this story, but it was never clarified if the symbol has any connections to the Phoenix Force.
- The story also introduced the sorcerer Thoth-Amon. In the story, Conan and Thoth-Amon happen to have enemies in common. Thoth-Amon's plot to eliminate his enemies ends up almost killing Conan as well. The two characters did not meet in person, and were mostly unaware of each other's existence. Howard included plots and mentions of Thoth-Amon in several other Conan stories, but the sorcerer and Conan never met in person in his works. However, the pastiche writers, who continued writing Conan stories following Howard's death, felt that Thoth-Amon was the closest thing to an archenemy Conan ever had. They greatly expanded Thoth-Amon's role in their stories, and the Marvel Comics writers mostly followed their example. The Earth-616 versions of the two characters had a long-running series of hostile encounters, starting with Conan in his early 20s and ending with a middle-aged Conan who has a grown-up son.
- Conan is probably long dead, but the circumstances of his death have never been depicted. Lin Carter did write a narrative poem called "Death-Song of Conan the Cimmerian" (1972) (adapted in Savage Sword of Conan #7), which has an elderly Conan facing his own mortality and approaching death. But the topic of the poem is Conan contemplating his past life, all the people he has met, all the lessons he has learned, and declaring that he has no regrets, with no actual telling of his death.
- When he was part of the Aquilonian Army against the Picts, Conan didn't considered himself to have been the king of a civilized country, despite having been king:
- of Bal-Sagoth (de jure, by taking the emblem of kingship, but the kingdom was destroyed instants later)
- of Attalus in Stygia (by defeating Ptolemy, and only for the time of a battle).
- of Aquiloria, the Earth-8313 version of Aquilonia, by usurping his alternate version, King Konar.
- of the valley, as the scriptures told that the one to defeat the demon Mahgmu was the returned long-lost King Atamu.
- While reading a Conan comic, Skaar thought Conan needed a bigger sword.
- Jean Grey considered Namor as emitting "underwater Conan the Destroyer" vibes.
- 737 appearance(s) of Conan (Earth-616)
- 16 minor appearance(s) of Conan (Earth-616)
- 49 mention(s) of Conan (Earth-616)
- 1091 image(s) of Conan (Earth-616)
- 74 quotation(s) by or about Conan (Earth-616)
- 56 victim(s) killed by Conan (Earth-616)
- 6 item(s) used/owned by Conan (Earth-616)