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'Conan the Mercenary' is a fantasy novel written by Andrew J. Offutt and illustrated by Esteban Maroto featuring Robert E. Howard's seminal sword and sorcery hero Conan the Barbarian, the second volume in a trilogy beginning with 'Conan and the Sorcerer' and concluding with 'The Sword of Skelos'. It was first published in paperback by Ace Books in 1980,'Conan the Mercenary', 1st ed., Ace Books, 1981, c1980, title page verso. with an official publication date of January 1981. Ace reprinted the novel in April 1983, and issued a trade paperback edition in 1985. The first British edition was published by Sphere Books in July 1989.
A young Conan finds himself involved in plots against the throne of Khauran. After saving Lady Khashtris from an attack by Shadizar's thieves and some traitorous henchmen, Conan agrees to work as her bodyguard in return for his soul being freed from the mirror it has been trapped in since Conan's encounter with Hissar Zul. Conan's soul can only be freed by one of noble birth, and Khashtris convinces Conan that her sister, Queen Ialamis, will free him.
Unknown to Conan, the Queen, and Khashtris, the Queen's new paramour, Sergianus, is actually a disguised Sabaninus, the elderly Duke of Korveka, a Kothian province that wishes to annex Khauran. The disguise is revealed when the Queen breaks the mirror containing Conan's soul; as his soul re-enters his body, Conan sees the Duke for who he really is. Conan, Lady Khashtris, and her loyal bodyguard Shubal, then plot to unmask the Duke and save Khauran.
Ialamis is also the mother of Salome and Taramis, who feature prominently in Howard's Conan tale, "A Witch Shall Be Born."
*[http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/o/andrew-j-offutt/conan-mercenary.htm Fantastic Fiction entry for 'Conan the Mercenary']
Category:Conan the Barbarian novels
Category:American fantasy novels
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