Conan is beaten in battle by fair means and foul and has to escape from a dungeon full of monsters and recapture his kingdom. Easy work for an old barbarian.
BOOK REVIEW ROBERT E HOWARD CONAN THE SCARLET CITADEL 1932
Conan as king in his middle-aged years, faced many great challenges, and in this story, he found his kingdom directly attacked by an army that defeats him by sheer weight of numbers. There are shades here of the last stand of the 300 Spartans at Thermopile.
Of his own army, Conan alone survives, captured by sorcery that leaves him paralysed. He is taken by the conquering warlord as fodder for his demons and serpent monsters in the capital city of the enemy (The Scarlet Citadel),
Conan has a genuine sense of dread of supernatural powers. He knows where he stands with men bearing swords or axes, but magicians never seem to fight fair. The giant snake petrifies him (a favourite creature for Howard as one turn up in several Conan adventures0 and a laughing Cthulhu squid-entity.
When a guard tries to kill Conan for personal reasons, Conan escapes, flees the various monsters and rescues another inmate – a powerful sorcerer in his own right. He promises to neutralize the powers of the wizard who beat Conan, who rides off on a giant bat-creature, to raise a fresh army and recapture his kingdom.
The closing battle and Conan’s return to glory has an epic heroic feel – the sense of legends being carved from the narrative is very strong. This is a fantastic Conan adventure.