Conan tries to settle down and be a quiet king until assassins using dark magic bring out the Barbarian in him once again.
BOOK REVIEW ROBERT E HOWARD CONAN THE PHOENIX ON THE SWORD 1932
The first Conan story in which he is established as a king, having gained popular support for his revolution against the cruel tyrant king. Conan has killed his predecessor and has no male heir, but he is a benevolent ruler, genuinely concerned for the welfare of his citizens.
Enemy countries and full of corrupt politicians eager to undermine or assassinate him at every opportunity surround the city state of Aquilonia, which he rules.
Conan initially finds kingship dull, and the processes of bureaucratic rule tire him. He misses his warrior, mercenary, and pirate barbarian adventuring.
His old skills are quickly called upon however when a band of assassins target him. One has supernatural powers, but Conan gains unexpected aid from a sorcerer king who died thousands of years before. He is given a phoenix symbol for his sword, which will take down the evil magician as a crucifix will take down a vampire.
This is a rather contrived story. The ghost of the former ruler turns up just to show Conan how to beat an otherwise invincible foe. The story’s strength lies in its capture of Conan as a king and an ageing warrior facing the need to settle down, but still gaining glory in violent victory too.