A Chronology of Conan Stories

I’ve tried to make a chronology of all Conan stories written by REH based on the Conan the … sourcebooks and a couple of rules I’ve found by analyzing all the other chronologies published over the years (A Probable Outline of Conan’s Career (Miller/Clark) (1936), An Informal Biography of Conan the Cimmerian (Clark/de Camp) (1952, A Conan Chronology by Robert Jordan (Robert Jordan) (1987), Timeline of Conan’s Journeys (William Galen Gray) (1997, rev. 2004), Joe Marek’s Chronology (Joe Marek) (?), The Darkstorm Conan Chronology (Dale Rippke) (2003)).

First, the rules:

  1. There are 26 stories and story fragments.
  2. The Pool of the Black One is always the 18th story
  3. The last for stories are also fixed: Wolves Beyond the Border followed by all three stories about Conan as king of Aquilonia (The Phoenix on the Sword, The Scarlet Citadel and The Hour of the Dragon)
  4. there are three blocks of stories. The first six stories are always The Frost Giant’s Daughter, The God in the Bowl, The Hall of the Dead, The Hand of Nergal, Rogues in the House and The Tower of the Elephant in no particular order, followed by eleven stories about Conan’s mercenary, brigand and pirate days (Black Colossus, The Devil in Iron, Drums of Tombalku, Iron Shadows in the Moon, The Man-Eaters of Zamboula, People of the Black Circle, Queen of the Black Coast, The Snout in the Dark, The Vale of Lost Women, A Witch Shall be Born and Xuthal of the Dusk). Then The Pool of the Black One happens as the 18th story. The last block consists of following four stories (Beyond the Black River, The Black Stranger, Red Nails and The Servants of Bit-Yakin), again in no particular order.

With these rules and the order in which the stories are described in the Hither Came Conan… chapters of all nine Conan the … sourcebooks I’ve managed to place all stories and story fragments chronogically.

  1. The Frost Giant’s Daughter (described in Conan the Barbarian)
  2. The Tower of the Elephant (described in Conan the Thief)
  3. The Hall of the Dead (described in Conan the Thief)
  4. Rogues in the House (described in Conan the Thief)
  5. The God in the Bowl (described in Conan the Thief)
  6. The Hand of Nergal (not described in any of the sourcebooks but belongs to the first block of six stories)
  7. Black Colossus (described in Conan the Mercenary)
  8. Iron Shadows in the Moon (described in Conan the Mercenary and Conan the Brigand)
  9. Queen of the Black Coast (described in Conan the Pirate and Conan the Adventurer)
  10. The Snout in the Dark (described in Conan the Adventurer)
  11. Xuthal of the Dusk (described in Conan the Mercenary and Conan the Adventurer)
  12. A Witch Shall be Born (described in Conan the Brigand)
  13. The Devil in Iron (described in Conan the Brigand)
  14. The Man-Eaters of Zamboula (described in Conan the Brigand)
  15. People of the Black Circle (described in Conan the Wanderer)
  16. Drums of Tombalku (described in Conan the Adventurer)
  17. The Vale of Lost Women (described in Conan the Adventurer)
  18. The Pool of the Black One (not described in any of the sourcebooks)
  19. Red Nails (described in Conan the Adventurer)
  20. The Servants of Bît-Yakin (described in Conan the Adventurer)
  21. Beyond the Black River (described in Conan the Scout)
  22. The Black Stranger (described in Conan the Scout)
  23. Wolves Beyond the Border (described in Conan the Scout)
  24. The Phoenix on the Sword (described in Conan the King)
  25. The Scarlet Citadel (described in Conan the King)
  26. The Hour of the Dragon (described in Conan the King)

Well, it is quite different from the other chronologies. The first block (stories 1-6) and the third block (stories 19-22) are identical to Joe Marek’s Chronology but the second block (stories 7-17) reminds me of the chronology used by Dark Horse Comics even if they stopped after The Devil in Iron.

I hope you find this as interesting as I do…

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Nice… Thank you for this…

Good effort. A few years back my high school GM got back in touch via Facebook…anyway he sent me a book token and I bought The Complete Chronicles of Conan. Read it through first front to back, then got a reading order but I tbh I think yours is nearer the mark.

Mine suggests ‘Tower…’ first! Then ‘Frost Giant’s…’ three escapades later! There was decent list somewhere of the origianal ‘Conan the (career choice)’ on a Conan/Howard website but I can’t find it.

I have the 2.5 inch thick copy… I’m seriously thinking of trying to find the three volume set instead. I play guitar and the ‘Complete…’ book aggravates my oncoming tendonitis or RSI… not good

The first chronologies (from Miller/Clark up to William Galen Gray) put The Tower of the Elephant first. It was Joe Marek who made the sensible choice of making The Frost Giant’s Daughter the chronological first Conan story.

Wikipedia has a very good article about all Conan chronologies.

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Awesome. Good work!

I currently read the Conan stories from Howard in publishing order (a nice great series) and I must say I agree with you, Conan appears younger in The Tower of the Elephant than in Frost Giant´s Daughter (descrpition, attitude etc.) imho. I would even say for me he appears the youngest in The God in the Bowl imho from all the stories I read so far.

There is one reason why The Frost Giant’s Daughter had to be the first story. It is the only story which takes place in the north of Cimmeria and has a young Conan in it. He never returned to the north later in his career. Take a look at the map. It does not make sense for him to move to the “barbarian” Asgard after some adventures in the civilized cities in the south and east and then going back to civilization. That would have been a hell of a dash.It makes much more sense for him to go to Asgard and then reach Zamora by travelling through Hyperborea making Zamora his first contact with civiulization. The direct way from Cimmeria to Zamora takes us through the civilized Border Kingdoms and Brythunia. And we know that he had some adventures in Zamora until he went to Nemedia before leaving his life as a thief behind and starting his mercenary career. So why interrupt this by becoming a barbarian again in a region which lies on the other side of his home country? Even if Miller’s and Clark’s chronology got REH’s approval, I think that both Marek’s and Rippke’s chronology makes much more sense. I also belive that REH himself had no chronolgy in mind when writing these stories.

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Yeah, you are of course right and I suspected it is due to his traveling. And you are also right that REH didn´t thought much of this. Still, he appears much younger in The God in the Bowl and it makes sense career wise. Maybe there´s a bigger gap between those stories? 19 in Bowl, 19-20 in Elephant and 23-24 in Daughter? We will of course not find a solution for this and I am maybe reading to much into the description of Conan.

@Narr666
My chronology is based on Joe Marek’s rules and on the various Conan sourcebooks. And there is a reason why no one uses the REH approved chronology by Miller/Gray anymore. But perhaps some one who worked on the sourcebooks can give you the reason why they based their chronology on Joe Marek’s.

I am sure that you know why better than me, since I just making my first babysteps into the Conan universe. I think that you are right logically wise and that REH didn´t think about it much as he wrote Conan younger (or at least I think he did) in the stories I mentioned. So, your chronology makes the most sense.