Avon Fantasy Reader/Issue 10/A Witch Shall Be Born

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A Witch Shall Be Born  (1934) 
by Robert Ervin Howard
Avon Fantasy Reader No. 10 cover: Conan, a clean shaven, short-haired man in classical armour, holds a recumbent scantily-clad, black-haired woman; behind them a furry monster with vaporous breath descends a staircase towards them.

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A Witch Shall Be Born

by Robert E. Howard

Robert E. Howard's stories of the wanderings of Conan the Cimmerian through the realms of the pre-Glacial era were based upon a carefully structed "history" of those ages devised by Howard before starting his series. It is, we think, this careful groundwork which makes these tales so colorfully realistic, so vivid, so varied in background. We sense that he has woven into his literary tapestry not merely varicolored threads but clothes of different textures, so that his prehistoric kingdoms are national not merely because he calls them by different names but because he has thought of them as different in culture, approach, tradition. This is no mean feat for a purely imaginary world and it is one of the things that have made Robert Howard's stories so much more memorable than attempts at similar construction by more commercially slanted writers.

1. The Blood-Red Crescent

Taramis, Queen of Khauran, awakened from a dream-haunted slumber to a silence that seemed more like the stillness of nighted catacombs than the normal quiet of a sleeping palace. She lay staring into the darkness, wondering why the candles in their golden candelabra had gone out. A flecking of stars marked a gold-barred casement that lent no illumination to the interior of the chamber. But as Taramis lay there, she became aware of a spot of radiance glowing in the darkness before her. She watched, puzzled. It grew and its intensity deepened as it expanded, a widening disk of lurid light hovering against the dark velvet hangings of the opposite wall. Taramis caught her breath, starting up to a sitting position. A dark object was visible in that circle of light—a human head.

In a sudden panic the queen opened her lips to cry out for her maids; then she checked herself. The glow was more lurid, the head more vividly limned. It was a woman's head, small, delicately molded, superbly poised, with a high-piled mass of lustrous black hair. The face grew distinct as she stared—and it was the sight of this face which froze the cry in Taramis' throat. The features were her own! She might have been looking into a

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Chapters (not listed in original)

Chapter I : The Blood-Red Crescent
Chapter II : The Tree of Death
Chapter III : A Letter to Nemedia
Chapter IV : Wolves of the Desert
Chapter V : The Voice from the Crystal
Chapter VI : The Vulture's Wings

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was legally published within the United States (or the United Nations Headquarters in New York subject to Section 7 of the United States Headquarters Agreement) before 1964, and copyright was not renewed.

Works published in 1934 would have had to renew their copyright in either 1961 or 1962, i.e. at least 27 years after they were first published/registered but not later than 31 December in the 28th year. As this work's copyright was not renewed, it entered the public domain on 1 January 1963.


The author died in 1936, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 85 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.

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It is imperative that contributors search the renewal databases and ascertain that there is no evidence of a copyright renewal before using this license. Failure to do so will result in the deletion of the work as a copyright violation.