“The God in the Bowl” is one of the original short stories featuring the sword and sorcery hero Conan the Cimmerian. Probably finished circa March 1932, but not published during his lifetime.

Set during the fictional Hyborian Age, the plot sees Conan robbing a temple museum only to become the prime suspect in a murder mystery. The story first saw publication in September 1952 in Space Science Fiction and has been reprinted many times since.

In the Nemedian municipality of Numalia, the second largest city of Nemedia, Conan enters a museum and antique house called the Temple of Kallian Publico.

While robbing the museum, Conan becomes embroiled in a murder investigation. The strangled corpse of the temple’s owner and curator, Kallian Publico, is found by a night watchman. Though the Cimmerian is the prime suspect, the investigating magistrate, Demetrio, and the prefect of police, Dionus, show forbearance. The two allow Conan to remain free and keep his unsheathed sword while their men search the premises. A combination of Conan’s physique, his glare, and his insistence that he’ll disembowel the first person who tried to apprehend him keeps the guards at bay.

From the letters:

The rejected story is probably one of the three Howard refers to in a letter (#195) to Tevis Clyde Smith, ca. March 1932:

By the way, Farnsworth rejected the last three yarns I sent him, together with a bunch of verse. No rest for the weary.

A very interesting passage can be seen in a letter (#203) to H.P. Lovecraft, ca. April 1932:

I’ve been working on a new character, providing him with a new epoch — the Hyborian Age, which men have forgotten, but which remains in classical names, and distorted myths. Wright rejected most of the series, but I did sell him one — “The Phoenix on the Sword” which deals with the adventures of King Conan the Cimmerian, in the kingdom of Aquilonia.

Probably the rejected Conan stories are “The Frost-Giant’s Daughter” and “The God in the Bowl”.

Published in:

The edited version by L. Sprague de Camp appears in the following places: