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Conan: Lord of the Mount review

eBook by Stephen Graham Jones

Cover by E. M. Gist 

From Titan Books and Heroic Signatures

Spoilers! Spoilers! 

Herdsman Jen Ro's French kissing cow rouses our blood caked Cimmerian from his slumber.

Conan remembers being part of Shen-ga's raiding party, something must have turned sour on the battlefield because he realizes that he is now lost in the mountains. Conan collapses back to sleep in cowpats. 

Conan finally awakens surrounded by cattle, and with Jen Ro's water, he washes the blood of battle from his body and loincloth.

Jen Ro, a black lotus addict, cuts a steak from his narcotized cow's flank and miraculously heals the new wound with a mixture of glowing purple moss and black lotus.

Jen Ro starts cooking the meat, but the starving Cimmerian can't wait and consumes it rare.
Conan asks for more, Jen Ro goes to another drugged cow and brings more meat and wine. 

Jen Ro mentions Trinnecerl, a village where he usually sells his purple glowing horned bovines.

But to reach Trinnecerl he always has to pass the ruins of a castle haunted by a mysterious Lord of the Mount. Apparently the Lord hates the taste of his lotus laced cows.

Jen Ro promises beautiful babes and free booze. As anticipated, Conan decides to make the trek to Trinnecerl with the cowherd.

The closer they get to the ruins the more weapons and skeletons they find lying around.
Conan grabs an abandoned broadsword, goes to sharpen the blade into the forest just next to the elevated castle and stumbles upon the Lord's compost heap of previous devoured victims.
Conan and Jen Ro arrive at the castle's broken gate. 

The Lord of the Mount reveals himself to be a hairy beast of legend with human eyes. Friendly to the environment, but not to Conan.

Conan slices the Lord's side. His broadsword starts to steam as does the monster's wound.

The Lord bites down on Conan's blade, shatters it and maims our barbarian.

Conan does not flee, instead he runs deeper into the keep. This impresses the Lord.

The Lord destroys his den trying to get at Conan.

The Lord bounces on Conan. Conan plunges his short sword numerous times into the man-eater. Steam comes out of every monstrous orifice. Conan splits the Lord's foreleg in two. The beast bleeding out falls off the castle into its compost heap below.

Conan backtracks to the trail and is attacked by the vengeful mother of the monster.
Conan picks up an old heavy broken giant sword and the mama empales herself on it.
Unperturbed she gets up and removes the blade from her belly.
Desperate, Conan picks up a cattle skull and drives one of its glowing purple horns into her side.
This time Conan gets a response from the she-beast.
Conan smashes the skull. With the deadly lotus spiked horns he stabs repeatedly at the matriarch and ultimately punctures her ticker.

Covered in monster hemoglobin, Conan finally arrives at the tavern in Trinnecerl.
Conan spots Jen Ro counting his coins from his handsomely profitable cattle transactions.
Conan puts two and two together, that this time around HE WAS THE OFFERING to the Lord of the Mount instead of the usual non-glowing cattle or two. The real reason why Jen Ro was so eager to help Conan recuperate. 
Conan stabs the herder in the leg, makes him inhale a week's supply of his lotus powder, steals all of his money and leaves him to starve.

What I did like:

Beowulf poem homage.

Predator (1987) homage.

The humour. 

The author was born in Texas and shares a birthday (January 22) with Robert E. Howard.

What I did not like:

The beasts only repeat the Cimmerian's taunts verbatim. Never more than that.

Lots of steam, but no steamy stuff.

We get to know absolutely nothing about the Lord of the Mount and his mother. Lame.

Conan is a little bit too harsh on Jen Ro at the end of the tale.

I give it an 8/10. Holy intoxicated cow! That was a pretty fun ride. Sword-brothers, sword-sisters you need to seek out Stephen's essay: My Life with Conan the Barbarian, available in the April 2021 issue of Texas Monthly with the headline: Conan the Vicarious.

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