The Hour of the Dragon

The Hour of the Dragon
Conan the Conqueror.jpg
Cover of first edition
AuthorRobert E. Howard
Cover artistJohn Forte
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
SeriesConan the Barbarian
GenreSword and sorcery
PublisherGnome Press
Publication date
1950
Media typePrint (Hardback)
Pages255 pp

The Hour of the Dragon, also known as Conan the Conqueror, is a fantasy novel by American writer Robert E. Howard featuring his sword and sorcery hero Conan the Cimmerian. It was one of the last Conan stories published before Howard's suicide, although not the last to be written.[1] The novel was first published in serial form in the December, 1935 through April, 1936 issues of the pulp magazine Weird Tales. The first book edition was published by Gnome Press in hardcover in 1950. The Gnome Press edition retitled the story Conan the Conqueror, a title retained by all subsequent editions until 1977, when the original title was restored in an edition issued published by Berkley/Putnam in 1977. The Berkley edition also reverted the text to that of its original Weird Tales publication, discarding later edits. Later editions have generally followed Berkley and published under the original title. The 1997 film Kull the Conqueror is loosely based on The Hour of the Dragon, replacing Conan with Kull but otherwise keeping the same basic plot.

Plot overview

The plot is a loosely based on a melange of motifs from previous Conan short stories, most notably "The Scarlet Citadel", with which its early chapters shares an almost identical storyline: Conan, captured and placed in a monster-infested dungeon, finds an unexpected ally and escapes. Meanwhile, the population of the Aquilonian capital, believing him dead, riots and is ready to accept an alternative King. From here the two diverge: The Scarlet Citadel, a short story, ends with Conan coming back when the rioting just started and making short work of his foes; in the book-length Hour of the Dragon it's much more complicated, Aquilonia has to live under a long and harrowing foreign occupation while Conan goes through a long hazardous quest, before he could finally come back and dispose of his foes.

The book begins when Conan is about forty-two, during his reign as the King of Aquilonia, and deals with a plot by a group of conspirators to depose him in favor of Valerius, heir to Conan's predecessor Numedides, whom he had slain to gain the throne. To accomplish this they resort to necromancy, resurrecting Xaltotun, an ancient sorcerer from the forgotten empire of Acheron. With his aid, the Aquilonian army is defeated by the rival kingdom of Nemedia and occupied. Conan, captured, is slated for execution until a sympathetic slave girl, Zenobia, risks her life to free him.

Conan's quest to retrieve the Heart of Ahriman in order to defeat the wizard and regain his throne takes him through all the kingdoms of the Hyboria Age.

After his eventual triumph, he vows to make Zenobia his queen.

Other Languages
العربية: ساعة التنين
русский: Час дракона
українська: Час дракона