Queen of the Black Coast
Conan the Barbarian #7
"Queen of the Black Coast" is one of the original short stories about Conan the Cimmerian, written by American author Robert E. Howard and first published in Weird Tales magazine circa May 1934. It is set in the pseudo-historical Hyborian Age and concerns Conan becoming a notorious pirate and plundering the coastal villages of Kush alongside Bêlit, a head-strong femme fatale.
Due to its epic scope and atypical romance, the story is considered an undisputed classic of Conan lore and is often cited by Howard scholars as one of his most famous tales.
Howard earned $115 for the sale of this story to Weird Tales and it is now in the public domain.
The use of poetic descriptions throughout the tale is quite strong, and on par with Howard's "The Frost-Giant's Daughter." However, the narrative is often criticized by Howard scholars for not having the flow of the better Conan yarns. Largely, this is because Howard was aiming for an epic feel, something to which the story is eminently suited. Plot-point by plot-point, "Queen of the Black Coast" comes closest of any of the Conan stories to achieving the quality of "legend" as the story is filled with classic moments: the dead Bêlit hanging by her necklace from a yardarm; Bêlit's Viking funeral in a flaming ship as Conan moodily looks on; the ghostly spirit of Bêlit returning to protect her lover. Howard also begins each chapter with excerpts from The Song of Bêlit, a poem presumably written by Hyborian Age minstrels to honor her memory.
Everett F. Bleiler described "Queen of the Black Coast" as "probably the best of the Conan stories, perhaps because it is the only one based on another emotion than lust, greed, or hatred." (From Amazon).
- Wishland Publishing, January 2013
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