Let’s imagine Warner Brothers do something like this for The Hobbit: a stylized map showing all the regions in the film. Someone who knows nothing of Middle earth might see a cosy little village with doors in the hills; a stately town hidden in the mountains; high peaks shrouded in mist; a dark forest housing a hidden city and a black fortress; a grim mountain circled by a dragon; a city standing on a lake. A Tolkien fan, however, wouldn’t even need map markers to know what they were looking at – Hobbiton in the Shire; Rivendell; the Misty Mountains; Mirkwood, the Wood-elves’ realm and Dol Goldur; the Lonely Mountain and Smaug; Laketown.
A Conan fan doesn’t have that pleasure looking at this map. If I didn’t already know about the locations, I probably couldn’t even hazard a guess as to what the dark fortress, Greek-looking city, Middle-Eastern-looking city and coastal fort could be. I’ve even seen comments on the internet thinking the dark fortress, Middle-Eastern city and desert is Stygia, the Greek-Influenced Monastery and forest is Aquilonia, and the pirate ship is somewhere out on the Western Ocean in Tortage. Even considering that the broad location of the film is set on the “savage coast” of Turan, it’s parts of Turan we haven’t seen in any of the stories.
So the idea that the filmmakers have spent all this time and money making a completely new world when they already have 80 years’ worth of legend to draw from is… well, it is what it is, is all.
Then I imagined what a map of actual Conan stories would be like. Conan the Barbarian: Black Colossus would have Kuthchemes, Khoraja, Aphaka, Altaku, Shamla Pass, maybe Eruk and Akbatana. Conan the Barbarian: Queen of the Black Coast would have Messantia, the Black Coast, the Zarkheba River, the City of the Winged One, possibly adding Abombi, the Stygian Coast and Khemi. Conan the Barbarian: The People of the Black Circle would have Ayodhya, Peshkauri, Ghor, Zhaibar Pass, the Gurashah Valley, Mount Yimsha. King Conan: The Hour of the Dragon would feature Belverus, Tarantia, the Valkia, Poitain, Valbroso's castle, Messantia, Khemi, the Valley of Lions.
Wouldn't that be cool?