The Scarlet Citadel

Infobox short story
name = The Scarlet Citadel
title_orig = The Scarlet Citadel
translator =
author = Robert E. Howard
country = USA
language = English
series = Conan the Cimmerian
genre = Fantasy
published_in = USA
publication_type = Pulp magazine
publisher = Weird Tales
media_type =
pub_date = 1933
english_pub_date =
preceded_by =
followed_by =

"The Scarlet Citadel" is one of the original short stories starring the fictional sword and sorcery hero Conan the Cimmerian, written by American author Robert E. Howard and first published in "Weird Tales" magazine circa January 1933. It is set in the pseudo-historical Hyborian Age and concerns a middle-aged Conan battling rival kingdoms, being captured through treachery and escaping from an eldritch dungeon via unexpected aid. The story includes Tsotha-lanti who is an evil wizard whose sorcerous arts help ensnare King Conan.

The story was republished in the collections "King Conan" (Gnome Press, 1953) and "Conan the Usurper" (Lancer Books, 1967). It has more recently been published in the collections "The Conan Chronicles Volume 2: The Hour of the Dragon" (Gollancz, 2001) and "" (Del Rey, 2003).

Plot summary

cquote2|"You sit on satin and guzzle wine the people sweat for, and talk of divine rights of sovereignty — bah! I climbed out of the abyss of naked barbarism to the throne and in that climb I spilt my blood as freely as I spilt that of others. If either of us has the right to rule men, by Crom, it is I!"
Robert E. Howard|"The Scarlet Citadel"

"The Scarlet Citadel" was the second Conan story to be printed by "Weird Tales" magazine and involves an older, wiser Conan as king of Aquilonia. King Conan receives a call for help from Amalrus, the ruler of neighbouring Ophir, who claims that Stradabonus, the king of Koth, is threatening his border.

When Conan marches to the aid of Amalrus with five thousand Aquilonian knights, the planned campaign is revealed to be a trap as Amalrus and Strabonus are working together to destroy Conan with the assistance of a Kothian wizard named Tsotha-lanti. The Aquilonian knights are cut to pieces and, having been taken prisoner, Conan is imprisoned in a Korshemish dungeon. This dungeon is used by the imperial wizard Tsotha-lanti for nefarious experiments and the story is largely a dark tour of that dungeon as Conan tries to escape.

In the dungeon, Conan frees Pelias, a former rival of Tsotha-lanti, who helps Conan to escape imprisonment and regain the throne of Aquilonia. The story climaxes in a gigantic battle with Tsotha-lanti meeting a grisly fate at the talons of Pelias.


The story is very similar to The Hour of the Dragon, which shares the points of Conan's capture and later escape from a dungeon even if it tones down the supernatural element.


The story was adapted by Roy Thomas and Frank Brunner in "Savage Sword of Conan" #30.

External links

* [ Conan wiki • The Scarlet Citadel] • Synopsis, characters, locations, and publishing history
* [ Conan the Barbarian at]
* [ The Official Website]

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