Exclusive: Get An In-Depth Look At Chuck Dixon’s Second Conan Novel ‘Caravan Of The Damned’
Publisher Castalia House and Bounding Into Comics are happy to share with you an in-depth look at Chuck Dixon’s newly released second Conan novel, Caravan of the Damned.
Caravan of the Damned sees Conan lead his band of merciless desert raiders across the Zuagir, where he doesn’t hesitate to attack even the most well-guarded caravans.
However, after a successful raid on a rich caravan from Khwarazm intended for the King of Zamora, Conan and his company come into possession of a beautiful and priceless treasure. The House of Yildiz and the King’s Own guards set out to reclaim this treasure and put an end to Conan and his group of raiders.
As Conan is pursued through the wastelands of the Zuagir he not only has to contend with the King’s Own guards, but discovers there are horrors in the desert too dreadful for even the most fearless barbarian to imagine.
Dixon, who is no stranger to writing Conan having penned numerous stories for Marvel Comics in comic book form in Savage Sword of Conan, shared with Bounding Into Comics what readers can expect from the second novel, “Caravan of the Damned is set in the time when Conan was a desert reiver. I wanted the challenge of writing a story that was an extended chase. It’s unlike anything I ever wrote for Savage Sword.”
Dixon elaborated, “The fun for me is restricting myself to to the vocabulary and writing form that Howard used. I don’t want any jarring stylistic anachronisms to take the reader out of the story. If I’ve succeeded here, the story should read like it would have been perfectly at home in an issue of Weird Tales.”
Dixon previously made it a point to note he was trying to mimic Howard’s prose style when he discussed the first novel, The Siege of the Black Citadel, with Bounding Into Comics, “I was totally immersed in Howard’s bravura writing style as an adolescent. I liked the challenge of creating a new Conan story written in that style.”
He added, “So, much of Howard’s prose relied on the reader to create vivid images in their own imaginations as they read. I really wanted to see if I could inspire that same brand of wild visuals.”
Readers are going to get some assistance in that department this time around as Caravan of the Damned features illustrations by Ademir Leal.
In fact, Castalia House has also published a second edition of the first novel, The Siege of the Black Citadel, which contains new illustrations by Leal.
Now, for your ecxlusive in-depth look at Chuck Dixon’s Caravan of the Damned:
As the Cimmerian promised, the raid upon the oasis was a slaughter.
The most talented bowmen of the band crept through the dark about the
watering hole until within easy range. At a low whistle in imitation of
a desert starling, they raised up from hiding to pull back on their
reflex bows. The sentries posted about the gathering of stunted palms
and withered grass fell one after the other to their unerring aim.
With the pickets slain, the others rushed in on bare feet, blades naked
in their fists. Past the hobbled camels dozing along the banks of the
oasis pool. Silently, they slipped in among the tents and between the
heaped forms of sleeping drivers. They were invested in the camp and
doing the bloody work of reducing the number of the soldiers even as the
belated alarm was raised.
There was a fight in earnest as the soldiers, near naked but for
breeches or loincloths, spilled from tents to rush for their heaped
spears and shields. A commander among them bawled orders but few heeded
his words as the fight descended from melee to chaos. Only a feeble
attempt was made to form a shield square that was swiftly broken by the
sudden rush of shrieking bandits. The fighting broke into individual
combat as soldiers were isolated from their comrades to be ringed in as
though by a pack of wolves. Each fell beneath the raised blades of the
desperate men closing in from all about. Riders drove lances into the
dwindling number of defenders.
The camel drivers were aroused from their slumber as well. A few of
these were armed with tulwars or spears and offered a pathetic
resistance that was swept aside by the frenzied attack. The rest of the
drivers fled toward the gathered camels in the vain hope of escaping the
carnage. Arrows brought them down as they struggled to free the camel’s
legs from the hobbles. Those that survived backed into a huddle, hands
raised in surrender, their voices mewling for mercy.
Conan moved among his band, sword in hand, to dispatch an attacking
soldier or fleeing driver as the occasion arose. The shrinking company
of soldiers was now overwhelmed by the greater numbers of the bandits.
One of them, a young conscript with a wispy beard, dropped to his knees
before the Cimmerian and pled for his life in the Zamoran tongue. Conan
split his skull with a downward swing of the pommel of his sword and
stepped over the corpse to call orders to the men now rushing to loot
the cargo heaped beneath the palms.
“There’s still work to be done and lives to be taken, you hounds!” He
pulled the one called Juggah from the packs to shove him to the sand as
he roared. “Put every man to the sword but one! I would have more
knowledge of this caravan.”
The men returned to the filthy work of murdering the remaining soldiers
and drivers. Conan crouched by the bank of the oasis pool and scooped a
handful of cool water to his lips as men died all about him upon his
“As you requested,” Zekir said as he shoved a man to the grass beside
It was a young soldier, a conscript, a boy only, his eyes alive with
fear as he knelt in the wet sand before this nightmare of a giant. Conan
sat back on the bank, his hands resting atop the crossguard of his
sword, its point stuck in the earth.
“You are a Zamoran?” Conan asked in that tongue.
The boy soldier nodded.
“There are no women,” Zekir said in the bastardized dialect shared by
most of the brigands.
“You told us there would be women,” Juggah said.
“How was I to know such things?” Conan answered with a shrug.
“Then let us have the boy.” Juggah’s voice had grown husky.
“When I am done with him,” Conan said, his voice lowered to a growl.
The boy soldier blinked at them, uncomprehending, their words slurred
and foreign to his ears.
“Where are you bound?” Conan said to the boy soldier in his thickly
“The Road of Kings and on to the Samara Road,” the boy stammered. “And
thence on to Khwarazm.”
“To what purpose?”
“King Hadranor seeks an alliance with Turan and we are to meet a caravan
coming north toward the Road of Kings.”
“These are your orders?”
“This is what I overheard while on sentry duty outside my captain’s tent.”
Conan nodded. Little happened inside a camp that was not known by every
soldier and camp follower within hours.
“And this northbound caravan,” Conan asked, his voice low, even. “What
does it bear that it requires an armed escort of this size?”
“I do not know much of the caravan.” The boy shook his head, eyes
lowered from the Cimmerian’s gaze. He clenched his hands into fists
against his legs to conceal his trembling.
“You’ve heard something. Even if it’s only rumors.” Conan said, leaning
forward to speak only to the boy.
“There is a treasure,” the boy said in a quavering whisper. “Some of the
others spoke of it. A treasure brought from Khwarazm. “
“What is its nature? Coin? Gems? Artifacts?”
“I know not, I swear. Only that it is to be gift from the principate of
Aghraphur to the king of Zamora. It is meant to bind the treaty between
the two together.”
“And this is all you know, lad?” Conan said, placing a comforting hand
on the boy’s shoulder.
“It is all I know.” The boy’s voice was hoarse from holding back sobs.
Whether of shame or fear or both, the Cimmerian did not know or care.
With a single motion Conan tightened the grip on the boy’s shoulder to
draw him closer while driving the point of the sword under the boy’s
ribs and upward to split his heart in twain.
“I am done with him now,” Conan said, eyes on Zerik and Juggah who
looked at him balefully as he walked into the shadows beneath the palms.
The Hyrkanian spat upon the boy who, though lifeless, continued to kick
his feet in the growing lake of blood that soaked into the sand around him.
Caravan of the Damned is the second in Chuck Dixon’s Conan series. The third novel, The Pit of the Blind God, has already been written by Dixon and illustrated by Ademir. It will likely be published by Castalia House sometime next year.
The first novel, The Siege of the Black Citadel, currently has a 4.7 out of 5 rating on Amazon with many readers giving the book high praise in their reviews.
RC Scott hailed, “This story hacks, and slashes across the battlefield, and then down to the subterranean depths where nameless monstrosities await. Author, Chuck Dixon, takes readers back to the Hyborian Age with a bloody vengeance. An awesome action adventure that’s loaded with great fight scenes, excellent pacing, fun dialogue, and a savagely satisfactory conclusion. I highly recommend this to fans of the original tales, and I’m eagerly awaiting the next installment.”
Chuck Minsker also raved, “Great news! Chuck Dixon is back at the keyboard guiding Conan (Robert E. Howard’s famous barbarian)! Dixon wrote numerous long-form Conan stories in the pages of Marvel’s “Savage Sword of Conan” magazine, and here he tackles his first Conan novel. This is the first in a trilogy of stories, and it finds Conan working as a mercenary, tasked with finding a way into the massive fortress known as The Black Citadel. Inside is a vast army, lots of archers and a wizard. Dixon wisely keeps the sorcery to a minimum, but ramps up the action and horror as the story builds to an earth-shaking conclusion. It’s a terrific tale with lots of clever plot twists and, well, Conan acting like Conan (not every Conan novel can make this claim). Can’t wait for volume two!”
Do you plan on picking up Caravan of the Damned?