CONAN THE BARBARIAN #85

“Of Swordsmen and Sorcerers!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: John Buscema & Ernie Chan

Conan and Zula are heading toward Kheshatta on stolen giant hawks. They land to take a break and tell each others stories. Conan tells how he met Belit and why they are in Stygia. Zula tells how as a young boy his tribe the Zamballahs were attacked by Kushites on a slave raid. Zula is the prince of the tribe and the last surviving male. He was eventually sold to a Stygian sorcerer named Shu-Onoru. While his slave he taught himself to read the magical texts and watched his master while playing dumb. Shu-Onoru had too much contempt for blacks to think his slave could learn anything. Yet Zula when he reached manhood decided to try and summon a demon to free himself. It didn’t work and his master sold him to a slaver. That is how he ended up in Harakht. Now he wants to go back for revenge. Conan decides that his vow to Belit is more important and will leave for Luxor. The two fight but Conan manages to convince Zula to help him on his quest for Belit in exchange he will than go to Kheshatta and help Zula. The giant hawks die in the night and they must continue on foot. In Luxor Belit and Neftha turn back to humans and are under the palace in Luxor.

Roy decided to use this issue to give us two things. First was a recap of Conan and how he came to be with Belit. Not a bad idea since the story was sidetracked for several issues and helps to refresh established readers and those that just jumped on board. The second was to give us a backstory for Zula. It was an interesting story for an interesting character. Roy also wisely decided to forgo another side trip and instead get on with the main story. So we are off to Luxor and hopefully reunite Conan and Belit. Then the big final confrontation with King Ctesphon.

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