Conan the Barbarian Sword
The Savage Sword of Conan the Barbarian: Skilled Atlantean Craftsmanship
One of the most famous characters to spawn from the Sword and Sorcery genre has to be Conan the Barbarian. While he was skilled with pretty much any weapon that found its way into his grasp, Conan typically wielded a bastard sword in one hand, and left his other hand free.
The Conan the Barbarian sword, therefore, is widely considered one of the most recognisable weapons of classic pulp fantasy. It makes a fantastic addition to any fantasy sword collection, and even comes with a wooden wall plaque to help you hang it up.
Of course, the Conan the Barbarian sword is also perfect for budding LARPers or Cosplayers. The Cosplay possibilities are obvious, as this is the sword that will set your Conan apart from any others. As a barbarian sword, it’s an obvious choice for any wild or barbaric character.
However, the one-handed nature of this blade means that any sword and board character could effectively wield it. Also, the obvious Atlantean inspiration and markings of this design make it a great weapon for characters with a similar background, whether they are from the Conan universe or otherwise.
Onto the sword itself. First of all, we unfortunately couldn’t source any Atlantean smiths, so this Conan the Barbarian sword replica was forged by human hands. However, the design matches the unique Atlantean style popularised by Conan himself.
The sword has a relatively straight double-edged blade with a taper and a single fuller. As we look towards the guard, we see some of the features that make the Conan the Barbarian sword unique. Most obviously, the sword has a strange ricasso-like feature, where the guard is extended over part of the blade.
Like a typical ricasso, this would allow the wielder to grip onto the blunt part of the sword and generate more power and accuracy as they attack, much like how someone wielding a longsword might employ a half-swording technique when thrusting.
However, a typical ricasso is normally just an unsharpened section of the blade, rather than the more elaborate guard extension seen with this weapon. The part of the blade enclosed by this guard extension has been etched with Atlantean script, revealing the nature of the sword.
The guard is unusual, not only because it extends over part of the blade, but also because of the intricate designs decorating it. It, along with the pommel, is cast with a bronze tinge, matching the ancient Greek aesthetic of the Atlanteans.
The designs carved into the guard and pommel illustrate the tale of Conan himself. The guard features two fierce monsters, like those that Conan faces during his adventures, while the pommel draws attention to a grinning skull. The grip of this sword is wrapped in finely crafted golden cord, so you can hold onto it comfortably.
The Hyborian Age: The World of Conan the Barbarian
All of the tales of Conan are set during a time known as the ‘Hyborian Age’. Robert E. Howard was the author responsible for creating this setting and the characters therein, and for penning many of the tales of Conan the Barbarian. He also authored an essay which described and explained the Hyborian age, which is freely available online, if you’re inclined to dive deeper into his world.
Sadly, Howard died at only thirty years old to suicide. He had seen some success before then, but his legacy stretched on since then. The Hyborian Age and its associated stories are still well-known today, over ninety years after his death.
Previously unpublished works (such as the aforementioned essay) were published, and others were edited and republished again and again. His works were also adapted in other media, making them available to even more people. Most famous of these have to be the Conan films starring Arnold Scharzenegger, released during the 1980s. These films are considered cult classics.
Other adaptations and works inspired by Howard include comic books, television series, heavy metal bands, and games. These games include table-top roleplaying games and, more recently, a MMO survival game called Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures which allows the player to try to survive in a Hyborian-inspired world.
To say that Robert E. Howard’s work has been influential is clearly an understatement. So, let’s dive into the world and stories that inspired so many people.
What Was the Hyborian Age?
One of the wonderful things about Howard’s writing is that he recognised one of the biggest difficulties associated with writing in a historical setting. So, Howard decided to circumvent that issue entirely by writing about a vanished age in prehistory.
This way, he could be inspired by history while still being free to use his imagination. This vanished age resembles real historical mythology, which could well be what inspired Howard in the first place. It seems that Howard placed a focus on ancient Greek mythology in particular.
Ancient Greek legends speak of a land known as Hyperborea, which lay far north of Greece. Some sources disagree on the exact location of Hyperborea, but they all concur that it’s definitely beyond a mountain range to the north. Several ancient historians identified Britain or its surrounding islands as a potential Hyperborea.
Unlike the British, the people of Hyperborea were said to be ruled by giant kings and lived in a utopian society, with lifespans reaching a thousand years. Despite their northern location, their land was warm and sunny, protected by a divine blessing.
Hyperborea was also the name that Howard originally gave his world, before settling on the name of the Hyborian Age. If you thought the two names sounded similar, that’s why. The Ancient Greek touch is fitting, as the Hyborian Age is explicitly set some time after the sinking of Atlantis, another famous ancient Greek legend.
The Earth was a tumultuous place during this time, as the landscape experienced dramatic changes both before and since the time of Conan. Some bodies of water either don’t exist, or are altered, while some areas of land, like the West coast of Africa, lie underwater. The story of Conan takes place around Europe and North Africa.
While the mythical Hyperborea was a utopia, the Hyborian Age is anything but. After a great cataclysm that resulted in the destruction of Atlantis and the end of the previous Age (sometimes referred to as the Thurian Age), as well as a complete reshaping of the world, many humans were killed. The survivors limped on.
Some humans were enslaved by an ancient race, while others clashed to the point of mutual cultural destruction. Still others ran to the north and eked out a life in the harsh environment. After another, smaller cataclysm that reshaped the earth again, things settled down.
The once-proud Atlanteans eventually regressed into wandering groups of ape-like men, incapable of speech or the use of tools and fire. The Picts, who had rivalled and clashed with the Atlanteans eons ago, hadn’t fared much better, being reduced to a primitive savage state. However, the Picts retained their identity.
The ancient races that had mistreated the humans so long ago faded away, destroyed, and superseded by the savage humans they’d enslaved. The northern people thrived in comparison, becoming a hardy tribe known as the Hyborians.
The Hyborians grew and turned southwards, conquering many of the lands there. As they expanded, the Atlanteans started to return to a more human state, swiftly overtaking the stagnant Picts. Meanwhile, the other ancient races also developed.
Tribes became kingdoms, and civilisation grew from the ashes of barbarism and savagery. The Hyborians became the dominant nation, although their northern holdings did get overrun by fair-haired barbarians (definitely not Vikings, honest).
The people once-known as the Atlanteans became the Cimmerians. They resided in an area called Cimmeria and were inaccessible to the Hyborians. Many millennia after the Hyborian Age, another cataclysm flooded the majority of Cimmeria until only its mountains remained, forming the British Isles.
But we’re pushing ahead in time a bit, so we’ll jump back to the Hyborian Age. The Cimmerians at this point were completely human, and were known for being tall, powerful people, with dark hair and light eyes. They lived in tribes, their difficult lives fostering a solemn personality.
While they had a tribal lifestyle and were primarily hunter-gatherers, the Cimmerians were able to work iron. They certainly weren’t artists or scientists, but they were fond of telling stories. Most notably, they were generally physically gifted, being impressive fighters, hunters, and trackers.
They did have a deity but didn’t exactly worship him in the typical way. He was a god called Crom and wasn’t exactly a cheery fellow. He valued honour, but otherwise ignored mortals. The Cimmerians acknowledged him, credited their skill to him, and cursed by his name, but rarely prayed as they truly believed he didn’t care. Even after death, all they awaited was an eternal wander around his mountain.
One of these Cimmerians was a man called Conan, and his story has just begun.
The Convoluted Tale of Conan: Orphaned Slave to Mighty Warrior
Before we start, there are a few different accounts chronicling Conan’s earliest years. We do know that his father was a blacksmith, and that he was born in the midst of battle. At some point, his parents were killed.
Some stories describe his mother dying of battle-wounds immediately after giving birth to him, while others kill both parents off together when Conan was a child. In any case, Conan quickly grew to an impressive size and strength, and ended up sold into slavery.
After years as a slave (usually a pit fighter), Conan finally escaped during an earthquake attributed to good old Crom. He returned home, where his people were assailed by enemy forces, and joined the great horde of Cimmerians who charged to the defence of their home.
Spurred on by wanderlust and a desire for treasure and adventure, Conan set off to make his fortune. Along the way, he discovered an ancient Atlantean sword, which became his signature weapon. While he was mostly motivated by survival and riches, Conan seemed to accidentally become almost heroic, facing off against powerful creatures and cruel humans alike.
It might seem strange that Conan’s backstory is so muddled, but the complete timeline of Conan’s life is actually the subject of a surprising amount of controversy. Since Howard’s death, many different people (including Robert Jordan, author of the Wheel of Time) have created “Conan Chronologies” to try to form a consistent timeline and story.
Amusingly, none of these carefully curated chronologies have perfectly included all of the stories centred around Conan. This difficulty has arisen for several reasons. First of all, it’s part of the nature of Conan’s adventures being pulp fiction, so they were generally published as short stories and novellas, at least when Robert E. Howard held the pen.
The popularity of Conan then went on to outlive the character’s creator, leading to other writers taking the mantle and continuing Conan’s quest. Add this to the later adaptations, we end up with a collection of largely separate stories so expansive that it would be impossible for them all to be conceivable.
However, this meta-story actually adds to the charm of Conan as a character, and the Hyperion Age as a concept. You see, historical myths and legends have similar continuity issues, with different myths contradicting each other. Because Conan is a faux mythological figure in the same vein as Hercules, it makes sense that he would have such a confused chronology.
The technical specifications of the Conan the Barbarian Sword for sale are as follows:
- Overall Length: 39 inches.
- Blade Material: Polished fuller, mirror polished 440 stainless steel.
- Blade Length: 21 inches.
- Blade Width: 2.25 inches.
- Blade Thickness: 5.1 mm.
- Handle Materials: Bronzed aluminium pommel and guard, golden cord wrapped hilt.
- Includes: Conan Sword, Wooden Wall Plaque, Hardware