period makeups: the Hyborian Age

Conan the Barbarian
Conan the Destroyer
Conan the Barbarian
Kull the Conqueror
others

Period makeups: The Hyborian Age

The Hyborian Age was devised by author Robert E. Howard as the post-Atlantean setting of his Conan the Cimmerian stories, designed to fit in with Howard’s previous and lesser known tales of Kull, which were set in the Thurian Age at the time of Atlantis. The name ‘Hyborian’ is a contraction of the Greek concept of the land of  ‘Hyperborea’, literally ‘Beyond the North Wind’. This was a mythical place far to the north that was not cold and where things did not age. Most later editors and adaptors such as L Sprague de Camp and Roy Thomas placed the Hyborian Age at around 10,000 BCE.

The reasons behind the invention of the Hyborian Age were perhaps commercial: Howard had an intense love for history and historical dramas; however, at the same time, he recognized the difficulties and the time-consuming research needed in maintaining historical accuracy. By conceiving a timeless setting – a vanished age – and by carefully choosing names that resembled our history, Howard avoided the problem of historical anachronisms and the need for lengthy exposition.

George RR Martin has adopted a similar stance with his Songs of Ice and Fire series, now televised as Game of Thrones (after the title of the first book), describing fantasy and historical novels as ‘twins’ but citing the greater freedom allowed in fantasy novels:

Fantasists enjoy certain freedoms that historical novelists do not. I can surprise my readers by killing kings and other major characters, but the fate of the kings and conquerors in the real world is right there in the history texts, we know who lives and who dies before we ever crack the novel open.

Women in the Hyborian Age were either warriors, witch queens, virginal princesses & priestesses or background sword-fodder.