main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Literature: The Hour of the Dragon
The Hour of the Dragon is the only Conan the Barbarian novel by Robert E. Howard. Published in 5 parts, from December, 1935 to April, 1936. The story received a loose adaptation with the 1997's Kull The Conqueror movie.

Tropes include:

  • Armor Is Useless: During the final battle, the Bossonian archers take a terrible toll on every wave of the Nemedian assault.
    The clothyard shafts found every crevice in their armor and the housings of the steeds.
  • Artifact of Doom: Inverted with the Heart of Ahriman, which is an artifact of pure good. When Xaltotun comes into posession of it, he hides it in a box because he knows that it can not be used to aid his evil magic. He also knows that it's the only thing capable of destroying him.
  • Back from the Dead: Xaltotun at the beginning of the story.
  • Beautiful Slave Girl: Zenobia, who is a harem slave to the King of Nemedia (although he has so many girls in his harem that he has never touched her).
  • Big Bad: Xaltotun.
  • Book Ends: The story begins and ends with the army of Aquilonia going into battle with the army of Nemedia.
  • Blood Magic: Why Xaltotun lets his allies die.
  • Burn the Witch!: Happens to Zelata, fortunatly she is saved by Conan.
  • The Caligula: Valerius' reign as false king of Aquilonia is known for such debauchery and decadence that even his own allies tell him that he's overdoing it.
  • Cool Old Lady: Zelata.
  • Cool Sword: A good, practical one.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Cult of Asura.
  • Deadly Decadent Court: Valerius turns the Aquilonian court into this after taking over.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: Two-fold. Amalric is merely a baron, nominally subordinate to both Tarascus and Valerius, but everyone knows his wealth and power is what really drives the takeover of both Nemedia and Aquilonia. And in the final battle, it is his death that puts the final nail in the coffin of those opposing Conan. But above even him is Xaltotun; he theoretically has no political power at all, but when, late in the story, he tells the others that he is "the real master of the western nations," they are chilled by the sudden realization that he is correct.
  • El Cid Ploy
  • Evil Is Not Well Lit: They imprison Conan there.
  • Famed in Story: Conan. He uses it.
  • Fisher King: Conan's loss of his throne and the corresponding loss of the Heart of Ahriman leads to the devastation of Aquilonia. Though not exactly mystical, this was very much deliberate as Howard was writing the story for a British market.
  • Fourth Date Marriage: After Zenobia helps Conan escape from the dungeons of Nemedia's Royal Palace, Conan rewards her by marrying her and making her the queen of Aquilonia.
  • Galley Slave: Conan, briefly.
  • Girl in the Tower: Countess Albiona.
  • Grand Finale: Howard originally intended the story as this.
  • Happy Rain: The end of the plague is a storm.
  • Kick the Dog: Xaltotun turns the belt of a soldier into a deadly snake, which promptly kills the poor soldier with its venom. Xaltotun does this simply to illustrate to his allies how dangerous he is.
  • Magic is Evil: Subverted. Unlike most Conan stories written by Howard, in which Conan overcomes evil wizards or supernatural monsters via mundane means, Conan in this story is aided by good-aligned magic users such as Zelata and the Cult of Asura.
  • MacGuffin: The Heart of Ahriman.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Xaltotun of Python.
  • Nature Hero: Zelata the witch.
  • Noble Wolf: Zelata has one.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: Though Valerius seems to be a completely debauched wastrel, there is a method to his madness. He hates pretty much everyone in both Aquilonia and Nemedia, especially Amalric, and wants to ruin both kingdoms so thoroughly that Amalric's imperial ambitions will never be realized.
  • Ominous Fog: Valerius curses it.
  • Our Ghouls Are Creepier
  • Our Liches Are Different: Xaltotun
  • Our Vampires Are Different
  • Power Crystal: The Heart of Ahriman, aside from being the MacGuffin, is a magical artifact so powerful and mysterious that it can bring the dead back to life which no other magic can do - and that is considered one of the least of its abilities. Not even Xaltotun, the greatest Acheronian sorcerer of his day had unlocked all or even most of its secrets. Xaltotun even feared it for this reason and kept it safely hidden because it could undo him easily.
  • Rightful King Returns: Twice.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Big time. The novel begins with Conan leading an army into battle, then he escapes from the dungeons of Nemedia, then he goes on a quest to recover the only weapon capable of destroying Xaltotun, and the novel ends with him rallying an army to his cause and defeating the invaders. Conan is probably the most proactive king in fantasy since King Arthur.
  • Secret Circle of Secrets: The cult of Asura.
  • Seers: A cryptic one.
  • Turn Coat: Publio.
  • The Starscream: Almaric wanted to manipulate his allies in order to become the emperor of the hyborian kingdoms.
  • The Undead: The Heart of Ahriman can grant a sort of false life to long dead and mummified corpses that has all the appearance and function of true life - however it is still a false life and can be undone by the same magic from the jewel that granted it.
  • The Vamp: Akivasha.
  • Villain Opening Scene: With the conspirators.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Xaltotun has one when he sees that Hadrathus and Zelata have the Heart of Ahriman in their possession.
  • Virgin Sacrifice: Xaltotun attempts this.
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: When executions are held.

The People of the Black CircleFranchise/Conan the BarbarianA Witch Shall Be Born
Horatio HornblowerLiterature of the 1930sHow Green Was My Valley
Man Eaters of ZamboulaAdventure LiteratureRed Nails
The People of the Black CircleFantasy LiteratureA Witch Shall Be Born

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy