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Conan: Terror from the Abyss review

eBook by Henry Herz

Cover once again by E. M. Gist 

From Titan Books and Heroic Signatures

Spoilers! Spoilers! 

Our favourite freebooters: Bêlit, the Queen of the Black Coast and Conan are on board The Tigress, the bireme oared warship is known by its painted menacing eyes and feared red long narrow flag.
Conan, wearing his horned helmet, an Hauberk from Nemedia and a cuirass, gorget and pauldrons all from Koth, spots a cog sailing by its lonesome. Bêlit really wants to ram the merchantman.

Conan and his ebony reavers board the ship. Conan cuts a dude in half with his broadsword from Aquilonia. All the sailors still crossing swords on the trading vessel get killed. This carnage gets our pirates some grain, rum and amphorae of olive oil.

Bêlit wants to go home to her haven. The Tigress, now damaged, is taking on water. Conan tells the boatswain to slow the ship down, they start removing water from the vessel.

They arrive at Bêlit's magically concealed island retreat. Our buccaneers overhear screams coming from their sod roof huts. 

24 fish-frog-men (green amphibian humanoids with white bellies, flabby lips, bulging eyes and clawed webbed hands and feet) are busy abducting 13 of their women... only one is able to escape.  

The fish-frog creatures are too quick for our heroes and slip with the women into the sea. Bêlit wants to pursue the kidnappers with the Tigress, but the ship's hull is too mangled.

Conan reassures the children and the rest of the women and tries to get as much info as he can on the batrachians.

The Fishmen only took the women, nothing else.

Bêlit picks up a scintillating pearl necklace and goes with Conan to Nyxa, a powerful witch, for guidance. 

They enter Nyxa's abode via a moss covered vertical fissure (Conan is too big, he has to enter sideways, his chest rubbing the inner walls). They follow glyphed tunnels illuminated by glowing human skulls and reach a cavern with a fire pit. 

Old Nyxa is sitting in a chair (a previous present from the pirate queen).
Bêlit offers her another gift, the necklace, Nyxa accepts it.
Nyxa's magic hides Bêlit's hideout only from humans... not Abyssals, worshipers of Thugath.

Abyssals only spawn every 13 years... at midnight when the Moon is fully illuminated... with human "brides".

Nyxa wants to punish the Abyssals for soiling her island, she gives Bêlit a map that will help her find the shrouded isle of Thugath.

Nyxa lends Bêlit a silver bracelet, tricked out with amber stones, that can summon a powerful wind, in return she would like 6 Abyssal eyes for a spell that will fend off further non-human visitors to her island.
The next day, The Tigress is fully restored. By Bêlit's calculations they will arrive at Thugath's island just before the full moon. 

After 3 days, powered by the bracelet's enchanted wind, the Tigress encounters dangerous sea stacks. Bêlit call offs the magical wind.

A giant squid attacks the Tigress. It grabs a sailor, Conan cuts a tentacle, blue blood spills out, the squid goes back into the ocean with its prize.

Two more squids attack the Tigress, they kill two more pirates, Conan is too much for the molluscs, they retreat back into the deep.

Our heroes finally arrive at their destination, but the ship gets stuck. The 13 husbands, Bêlit and Conan will swim to the isle's black sand beach, they need to find the accursed "Spawning" pond that lies within the island.

The rest of the crew will dislodge the ship from the sand bar.

Our heroes put on black tunics, camouflage their faces and enter the cold tropical water.

They reach the beach, enter the jungle and are besieged by the stench of rotting fish. Shinning ailing trees and glowing mushrooms surround them.

They hear frogs croaking and women crying.

The Cimmerian and the she-pirate scout ahead, they arrive at a yellow lake, which could be a gateway to Thugath's world.

On its shore rises a green, slimy, pulsating, veiny obelisk, the water slapping it making slurping sounds. Strange inscriptions and sea monsters are carved into the stone monument.

Bêlit sucks in a deep breath.

The 13 brides are tightly tied to the base of the shaft, 14 Abyssals are guarding them... watching and grunting.

The hairs on Bêlit's neck stand erect. 

The emcee is the tallest of the Abyssals, a priest of Thugath, he wears a crown and a robe with runes.

The priest takes his dagger adorned with jewels and cuts the hand of one of the Fishmen.

The Fishman smears his green blood on the face of his would be bride, chants and licks the ichor off with his twisting tongue.

Our heroes vibrating with ire, attack. Conan kills the priest and slides his crown over his arm, Bêlit releases the prisoners, all the Fishmen get liquidated.

The pirates bring back the severed heads they need for Nyxa, while Conan fights another wave of Fishmen on his own. Conan kills them all, some with his bare hands. His dripping sword now hangs limply.

Conan runs back to the boat chased by still more Fishmen, 12 pirates already aboard the Tigress start shooting arrows at the pursuers, some Abyssals go belly up, the rest retreat. The island starts shaking.

The ancient deep-sea god Thugath comes forth out of his pond portal! A greyish-green fishlike Kaiju decorated with barnacles, 4 kraken-like tentacle arms, brilliant red coloured eyes, enormous super sharp teeth, white belly, Godzilla-like dorsal fin and wide spiny feet.
An irritated, shrieking, roaring and cursing Thugath catches sight of the Tigress and starts shoving trees aside. 

Nyxa's bracelet is spent, it cannot perform anymore. No more wind!

80 panic-stricken oarsmen start rowing fervently.

Thugath tosses a palm tree at the Tigress, it misses its mark.

Conan replaces an exhausted oarsman and starts rowing himself.

Thugath emerges from the trees and enters the sea. Bêlit tries out her recurve bow. Her arrows are unable to pierce the monstrosity's mythical integument.

A terrified Conan desperately starts praying to Crom... and it works.

The wind picks up and they are able to flee.

Afraid that Thugath might follow them home, they take a different route.

What I did like:

A nice homage to H. P. Lovecraft's short story Dagon (The Fish-God) and his Deep Ones from the novella The Shadow over Innsmouth.

Crom laughs at your four winds... he can also control them.

Green-blooded frogs do exist.

Inspired by periodical cicadas.

A yarn with more innuendoes than you can shake a stick at.

Sandahl Bergman (Valeria in Conan the Barbarian (1982)) also starred in Hell Comes to Frogtown (1988).

Best enjoyed with some Therion playing in the background.

Conan doesn't have his scarlet cloak from Ophir.

Conan puts on camouflage paint once again.

Nemedian skeptics mentioned.

Crom's realm of ice and cloud mentioned.

Nordheim and Valhalla mentioned.

What I did not like:

13 men are howling, it should be 12. One of them got his wife back.

Killing for extra virgin olive oil? It's not called “liquid gold” for nothing.

I give it an 8/10. This reads like an unproduced movie script for Ray Harryhausen's Conan vs The Island of the Fishmen/L'isola degli uomini pesce (1979)... and that's a good thing. We need a sequel tout de suite!

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