Shem was a vast Southern Kingdom of the Hyborian world, reaching from the Western Ocean to the Eastern Desert and the borders of Turan; however, it was far from politically or culturally unified. Western Shem, which includes the shorelines, contained fertile meadow lands and a large number of city-states where powerful local rulers controlled these lands from their luxurious palaces; meanwhile, Eastern Shem was a sandy desert, and a land of nomads.
While wandering in the great forest, Keiv was kidnapped by the witch queen Ren as part of her plan to escape Imhotep's wrath. Imhotep appeared with its Sky-Horde and killed an entire Kothian Army, while Conan rescued his friend and decapitated Renrutanit, whose still-living head was later recovered by Pathir.
A short time later, in a castle on a deserted plain in the northern region of Shem, the magical Council of the Seven used their arcane power to resurrect the Devourer of Souls from death after his battle with the Ravager of Worlds.
Some time later, Conan saved a girl named Rosina from a band of thugs who stalked her at night. Bringing her back home, the Cimmerian met her mother, Lady Sabbatha, and Lord Dakin, who later hired him to sneak into her house and steal a couple of magical artifacts for him. Conan's thieving attempt was suddenly interrupted by the arrival of a couple of Simianthros, who took the items and kidnapped Rosina. Asked by Lady Sabbatha to bring them back, Conan tracked the apes down to Stygia.
At some point, jealous of the human beauty Isolene, Ishtar had her placed in a tower guarded by demons-and then forgot about her. Ishtar was served by a wizard named Libro, who became greedy and stole her powerstone. Under the alias of Alonia, Ishtar regained her powerstone. Nergal and Tammuz were also encountered by mortal adventurers at this time, as were Bel and Ashtoreth.
Tel-Ammon, a city-state of Shem, was ruled by Queen Atala. She was seduced and slain by Nebuhan, who only married her to become king. However, Atala's daughter Ayelet escaped, and about two decades later, with Conan's help, would avenge her mother. (Upon the advice of a Vanir mystic, Nebuhan had placed his soul in a mystical container. Ayelet and Conan acquired the container.)
Conan had other Shemite-related adventures, including an adventure in Asgalun of Pelishtia, meeting king Akhirom, who worshiped Pteor; facing a giant turtle; or most importantly, on the borderline of Aquilonia, Conan saw one of Mitra's angels who usually appeared to those about to die. The angel of Mitra appeared again to Conan and granted him Mitra's power to stop a priestess of Yog, a demon worshiped in Darfar. The angels of Mitra and the demons of Yog looked on as the two fought. Conan killed the priestess and saw her blood fall to Earth. The blood cursed the land upon which it fell, making that land a place of war and disorder.
In Shem, Conan was employed by two rich brothers to find the woman Fionqu'a. Little did Conan know that these brothers were the Gamesmen of Asgalun, using him and Fionqu'a in an amusing game of life and death.
Conan encountered Shumash-Shum-Ukin, a time-travelling Babylonian monarch. After an encounter with Xka'Ahk, a serpent demon rival of Set, Shumash-Shum-Ukin declared he would time travel a few thousand years into the future to meet with a carpenter who can perform miracles.
Ayelet remained a staunch ally of King Conan; however, she later died due to the machinations of an impostor posing as Conan's son, Taurus.
Shem in general has a major presence in the trade world of its era. Its entire area contained a vast network of trade routes and the cities prospered from the profits. The Shemites focused a bit too much on their land routes, and the coastline was underdeveloped as a result. Assuming naval trade to be a secondary concern, few Shemites bothered to develop port cities and harbors. Among the most famed of its cities are the decadent coastal metropolis of Asgalun and the desert-city of Akbitana, a center of steelmaking.
The economy was relatively diverse. The fertile regions were famed for their production in fruits, such as grapes and pomegranates. Agriculture in general and animal husbandry were major and prosperous occupations in the area. Local reserves of gold and copper, along with the famed Shemite textiles and pottery, were prized export items. Shemite mercenaries, mainly archers, served in both local and foreign armies.
The deserts of Eastern Shem were typically dominated by raiders, the most famed among them being the Zuagir. Individual tribes had their own chiefs, but ambitious war chiefs had been known to sometimes unify multiple tribes in massive forces. Their usual targets were traveling caravans, although they occassionally threatened entire cities if they had sufficient numbers.
City-dwellers, and nomads were unified in their polytheistic religious practices. Female deities associated with fertility were widely worshiped, the most popular among them being Ashtoreth, Ishtar, and Derketo/Derketa. A few male gods also had large followings, mainly Pteor, Adonis/Tammuz, and Bel. Bel was the patron of liars and thieves, and his followers tended to practice related activities.
Robert E. Howard named Shem and its people after the Semitic people, a vast ethnolinguistic group active from antiquity to the modern world. They include among others the ancient Akkadians (including their Babylonian and Assyrian offshoots), the Hebrews, the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians, and the Arabs.
- 53 appearance(s) of Shem (Hyboria)
- 6 minor appearance(s) of Shem (Hyboria)
- 78 mention(s) of Shem (Hyboria)
- 2 image(s) of Shem (Hyboria)