Conan is in his forties and works as a privateer for the King of Zingara, committing acts of piracy under the guise of naval warfare. When an old friend is murdered, a treacherous Duke plots to steal the throne, and the King's daughter, Princess Chabela, is kidnaped Conan answers the call to adventure and sets off for the Nameless Isle. Always a step behind the Duke's henchmen, Black Zarono the pirate and Menkara, a priest of the serpent god Set, Conan arrives too late to seize his share of the treasure. Instead he finds Princess Chabela who has escaped Black Zarono's ship and an eerie shrine that was once an abode of the prehuman Serpent Men. Conan fights a living statue Conan and outsmarts it, tricking the beast into smashing itself against a coral reef. Conan returns to the now empty shrine and discovers a treasure to make the gold and jewels he lost seem worthless. Hidden in a hollow beneath the destroyed idol is the fabled Cobra Crown, fashioned by inhuman hands aeons ago.
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Thus begins a contest for possession of the mystical Cobra Crown, which is destined to pass through many hands. Zarono and Menkara seek to buy the help of the dread archmage Thoth-Amon only to learn they left the true prize back on the Nameless Isle. Thoth-Amon bends all his mystic arts to locating the invaluable crown and soon finds it in the Black Kingdoms of Kush. While laying in for supplies Conan reunites with an old friend from his mercenary days, Juma, but after a drunken celebration one of Juma's rebellious subordinates steals the crown and flees into the jungle. Conan sets off in pursuit and, in a fit of stubborness at being commanded to stay behind, Princess Chabela follows him. In short order the thief is slain, the Crown stolen once more, and both Conan and Chabela find themselves captured by slavers. Forced to march to the land of the amazons, Conan and the princess are swiftly sold on the block, stripped of both clothes and their freedom, purchased by the amazon queen Nzinga.
Conan soon finds himself fulfilling the not too onerous role of the queen's consort, but Nzinga is both suspicious and jealous of Conan's feelings toward Chabela and makes the princess the lowest of her slaves. Events come to a head when Nzinga arranges for Chabela's life to be threatened by one of her lieutenants, forcing Conan to intervene. Nzinga dismisses Chabela and Conan believes he has talked his way out of his troubles. He soon discovers Nzinga has drugged his wine and falls into a stupor. Chabela is meanwhile seized as soon as she leaves the chamber and dragged off into the dark.
Conan is tossed in the dungeon and Nzinga proceeds to viciously flog the weeping princess until in a flash of emerald light Thoth-Amon appears, having tracked the mystical artifacts he covets to the amazonian kingdom. A warrior as well as a queen, Nzinga leaps to attack the mysterious intruder and is felled by a sorcerous blast.
Thoth-Amon calmly collects the Cobra Crown, which was sold to Nzinga along with her two white slaves, and departs, never realizing the princess he also seeks is the punished slave girl he never deigned to notice. Chabela wriggles free of her bonds and finds Conan in the dungeons. The two of them escape only to be recaptured and trussed up as offerings to the grove of carnivorous trees the amazons keep instead of hungry lions.
Conan frees the princess and the timely arrival of Juma and his archers puts the amazons to rout. Conan and the princess race to reach Zingara and prevent the overthrow of Chabela's father. They arrive too late. King Fedrugo abdicates the throne to Thoth-Amon, who has betrayed the Duke as the Duke has betrayed the king, but all is not yet lost. Thoth-Amon removes the Cobra Crown to accept the crown of Zingara and the Duke seizes it, instigating a battle that will determine the fate of all Zingara.
The review of this Book prepared by Greg O.