“The Tower of the Elephant!”
Writer: Roy Thomas adapted from story by Robert E. Howard.
Artist: Barry Smith
Arenjun the city of thieves in Zamora. At the local tavern a woman stealer from Koth is bragging about the girl he stole. He mentions the Tower of the Elephant and a young Conan taps him on the shoulder to find out more about this mysterious tower. The Kothian tells of the priest Yara who keeps the jewel the Heart of the Elephant. That the tower has many supernatural defenses. Conan thinks that someone with courage can steal the jewel. The braggart Kothian thinks that Conan is alluding that he is a coward and a fight breaks out which Conan easily wins.
So at the tower Conan climbs the wall and discovers the gate guard dead. He runs into Taurus the Nemedian who is known as the Prince of Thieves. Taurus is impressed that Conan has the courage to attempt breaking in and they join forces. Taurus uses his black lotus powder to knock out the lions. Conan has to kill the one that escaped. Then they climb the tower and reach the top. Taurus goes in as Conan checks that the guards aren’t alerted. He finds Taurus dead at the door. Killed by two punctures to the throat. He finds the cause in a giant spider that killed Taurus and proceeds to kill the spider. Further exploration leads Conan to the figure of Yag-Kosha. A green man with the head of an elephant. Yag is a prisoner of Yara and tells his story.
Long ago from a far planet he and his companions flew to Earth on wings. When they reached Earth the wings fell off and they were trapped. Through the centuries they witnessed the birth of man. Yag was the last and being worshiped as a god in the far east. Yara captured him and forced him to build the tower and teach his secrets. He implores Conan to kill him which he does out of pity. Then he takes the jewel which now turned red and brings it to Yara. Conan recited the phrase given him by Yag. It shrinks Yara who then gets sucked into the gem to get punishment from a revived Yag. Conan flees the tower before it collapses.
“Conan the Marvelous The Hour of the Elephant”
By Roy Thomas
An article for this issue. Roy tells how this was his favorite REH story. How he wrote it and his disappointment that Stan Lee was not impressed enough with what he thought was his best work. The story was one of two Conan stories nominated for best story in 1971.
So this was the first adaptation of a Conan story by Robert E. Howard. We now have Conan in civilized lands finally. This is his first story in a tavern. Many more would follow. Roy states this was his favorite Conan story and he put a lot into it. I love the story myself. Yag-Kosha is a truly tragic figure. You feel sorry for him and his suffering as does Conan. As Roy points out the second part of the story Conan is a spectator. Still it is Conan’s action that frees the poor alien Yag-Kosha. A beautiful story with a good balance of action, sorcery and imagery.