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Yasmina and Conan: Chapter X, The People of the Black Circle by Robert E. Howard


“The thought came vaguely to Conan that the spells of magicians were more closely bound to their personal beings than were the actions of common men to the actors…and a good knife is always a hearty incantation.”

Throughout the nine chapters of this classic novella the author had established Yasmina as the perfect woman: compassionate, intelligent, faithful, willfully loyal, beautiful and contemplative—a one in a million girl. The only thing that deformed her as an ideal mate was her royal status, the fact that her fine qualities would be mostly funneled into the rat-hole of the soul that is politics. From everything that compromised and consumed her humanity and her womanliness, Conan had taken her, had freed her from the shackles of politics and carried her up into the mountains far above the ceiling of affected ostentation that had concealed and contained her person. He had unveiled her.

In Yasmina and Conan, in which she is served top billing by the very gender-conscious author who did not forget that this was Yasmina’s story, the Princess and Queen-to-be of a fabulous kingdom found herself under the protection of one savage man, the perfect uncouth soul for her, so naturally she wished for him to be her king, to be her grim protector in the scaled-up wolf-pit of politics to which she must return. What follows is a sardonically sentimental tryst between two worlds, a tryst of souls, not bodies, as the perfect hero and the perfect woman negotiate the possibility of deciding which world they might coexist in—the world of low cunning and high adventure or the world of diabolic plots and crushing moral burdens—and the story, the gravity of life, takes over and seizes the choice from them.

Facing the facts that the respective social commitments of their diverse natures call them inevitably away from one another, a man and a woman, who seem to be perfect for one another, struggle to effect a union which does not compromise the integrity of either. Yasmina and Conan is the fitting apex and end of a story built around the prospect that human societies make the primal act of finding and abiding a soul-mate all but impossible, yet not unworthy of a man’s attempt to join with his true opposite, or a woman’s dream that it might be possible.

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LynnFebruary 2, 2017 2:19 AM UTC

A worthy description of one of the great fictional romances. Thank you.