“Shadows in Zamboula” is one of the original stories by Robert E. Howard about Conan the Cimmerian, first published in Weird Tales in November 1935. Its original title was “The Man-Eaters of Zamboula”.

The story takes place over the course of a night in the desert city of Zamboula, with political intrigue amidst streets filled with roaming cannibals. This story also introduces a fearsome strangler named Baal-Pteor, who is one of the few humans in the Conan stories to be a physical challenge for the main character himself.

By present-day sensibilities, the story is seriously marred by including a vicious racial stereotype – blacks as cannibals – though Howard strove to lessen this by making it clear that the cannibals in Zamboula are only the specific blacks from Darfar, other blacks being untainted. A white character, Aram Baksh, proves to be a more sinister antagonist by facilitating, exploiting, and profiting from the cannibalism of the Dafari slaves.

From the letters:

In a letter (#342) to P. Schuyler Miller, March 10, 1936, Howard comments on the artwork done in Weird Tales for this story:

Hope you find “The Hyborian Age” interesting. I’m enclosing a copy of the original map. Yes, Napoli’s done very well with Conan, though at times he seems to give him a sort of Latin cast of the countenance which isn’t according to type, as I conceive it. However, that isn’t enough to kick about.

Vincent Napoli illustrated the Conan stories “Shadows in Zamboula,”

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