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‘I Don’t Kill Women Ordinarily’
The Mountain of the Black Seers: Chapter VI, The People of the Black Circle by Robert E. Howard
Conan senses “something infernally queer” as he makes his way deeper into the mountain haunts where every hand seems to be turned against him. He muses to his captive about the wonders of an eastern city where he had seen men behave as if dead when commanded by priests.
The transformation of Yasmina from a political figure to a human woman is completed with a change of attire and a friendly spank from her captor. Now, stripped of her hierarchal artifice, the character of Yasmina will be able to fully appreciate the horrors ahead. Howard was an expert at stripping down a character to their human essence by using the plot to remove the artifice, thus providing the reader with a keener appreciation of the weird elements ahead. Yasmina begins the story as a princess, and by chapter six she is seated in the mind’s eye of the reader as a sympathetic person.
The subject of this chapter is action of the sorcerer’s kind, a field of battle that Conan’s Western mind, unadulterated by notions of servile obedience, enables him to tolerate better than the locals. The “war of wills” waged between the magical personas is one of Howard’s best scenes, a scene which effectively links the plot and the ambitious subplot into a seamless narrative.
To reveal the dread objective of the hero’s quest, ominously, Yimsha, Mountain of the Black Seers, rises above distant peaks to focus the sense of peril that had crept up from the lands of men on many threads into singular focus.
But the hero is an outsider and, “The heritage that prepared the native of the East for submission to the mesmerist was not his.”
A Reading by Nathan Kloske
A Well of Heroes
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