Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Conan the Ruthless

I mentioned in my first post about Chuck Dixon's run as writer on the Savage Sword of Conan that I seemed to recall him giving a trick used by my favorite Viking, Harald the Ruthless, to my favorite Cimmerian in one issue, but I couldn't recall which. Turns out it was issue #148, which I read during the weekend. Here's how it went.
According to King Harald's Saga, at the end of his time as a member of the fabled Varangian Guard in Constantinople, Harald Hardrada had incurred the wrath of the Roman Empress Zoe and had to make a quick get away. Unfortunately, a huge chain was stretched across the mouth of the harbor to keep ships from entering or leaving without permission, and as Harald's longship approached the chain, with Zoe's men in pursuit, it looked as if the Viking prince was trapped.
But, clever Harald had the crew members who weren't needed for rowing run to the back of the ship, causing the prow to lift out of the water. Then he had the rowers row for all they were worth. The longship slid up onto the chain, and almost became stuck, but Harald now had his men run to the front of the ship where their weight carried the ship over the chain and into the clear.
In Savage Sword of Conan #148, Conan has incurred the wrath of the Empress Auraldia, for whom he had once been a general, and has to make a quick escape. But there's this chain over the harbor, so Conan has any crew not needed for rowing etc, etc.
I thought this was a nice use of Harald's trick. Keep in mind it's a small incident in a multi-issue story, so it's not as if Dixon was rehashing Harald's Saga as a Conan story. There are a few other parallels, but this one had stayed in my head for a decade or so. I'll see if I can put a up a scan of the page with the harbor chain scene later on.


Paul R. McNamee said...

That wound up in a Harold Lamb VIking tale. It might well have been about Harald, but I don't recall the specific characters.

Keith said...

Sounds like I need to research Harald; he seems to be a fascinating character. And look up that Lamb story. Paul, do you know if it's in Swords from the Sea?

Paul R. McNamee said...

Keith, it was online in one of the earliest issues of the Flashing Swords eZine. Seeing as Howard Jones was editing at the time, I have to believe it made it into one of the collections he later put together.

I don't think the issues are available online anymore but if I find it, I will let you know.

Paul R. McNamee said...

The story was "The Golden Empress".

Found a review logline; "Harald the Viking picks the wrong woman as prize after defeating a gladiator."

I don't see it in either Swords from the Sea or Swords from the West t.o.c., though.

Charles R. Rutledge said...

It is in Swords From the Sea guys (on google books anyway). I checked and realized I'd gotten the wrong Empress. It was Theodora's sister Zoe whose bad side Harald ended up on.

Paul R. McNamee said...

D'oh! You're right, Charles.

I was going by on a fast horse, I guess. Thanks.

Charles R. Rutledge said...

Hey, I wasn't sure either. Have yet to read that one. Bet I do soon though!

francisco said...

Empress Aurelia, one of the sexiest girls in Conan comics I think