Video games, books and films are all seen as forms of escapism. It’s amazing how these make-believe worlds can lead to expansive lore and actual languages as in the case of Lord of The Rings. Humans have and will always need some form of escapism to get out of their own heads for a while. Some do it by completely immersing themselves into fantasy worlds. One such world is that of Hyboria. Not only is it the stage for the Conan stories but it is very much inspired by real-life history as well, making it one of the most exciting and intriguing fantasy worlds a person can explore.
The Creation of Hyboria
It’s a well-known fact that Robert E. Howard was a lover of history. He was fascinated with the ancient and mostly forgotten mythologies of the ancient world. However, writing based off history is often challenging and it does hinder one’s own creative freedoms and liberties, which is why Howard decided to create his world set long before the start of our calendars and heavily-inspired by the old cultures and mythology that he was so fond of.
By creating his own ‘lost era’ and carefully naming peoples and areas in relation to the cultures he was trying to convey he eliminated the need for time-consuming research and the need for lengthy expositions. And thus, The Hyborian Age was created.
Why Does This World Stand Out?
I’ve read a lot of books, played a ton of games and watched my fair share of movies but out of all the fantasy stories, the world of Conan stands out to me mostly because I too share a fondness for the age of antiquity, but also because this is a world that holds no punches nor excuses itself for it.
The world is brutal, it is savage and as well it should be. This is supposed to be a world that not only predates our own but is an age lost to us. There are countless historical events that have been lost to time and I think that is what makes the world of Hyboria so exciting and fun to immerse oneself in; it’s part of the fantasy taking it as chronicles from a lost era, which makes it familiar to an extent.
All the cultures in Hyboria are easily identifiable. For example, The Cimmerians are supposed to be the early ancestors to the Irish, Scots and Gaels, while the kingdom of Stygia is a clear analogy to Ancient Egypt.
From the way the characters are described, their culture and mythology and even the gods that they worship, the analogies are there. For history boffins or just people in the market to discover a new fantasy world that is easy to immerse oneself into I’d always recommend looking up Hyboria.
The world that Howard envisioned is not for the meek as he was unapologetic with his writing, which I think is something writers these days should look up to and take note of.
To dissect every aspect of this world would span pages upon pages of writings. If I were to elaborate on each culture and region, it’ll probably take articles every week for the next few months.
But alas, in the next article I will go over the character of Conan himself. Without giving spoilers to any of the many stories that revolve around him. Conan has been many things, but boring is not one of them. Find out why in the next article!