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Valeria of Conan the Barbarian: A Tale of Strength & Tragedy

by Lo Terry on February 8, 2024
  • In the annals of the legends of Conan the Barbarian, amongst the tales of beasts, gods, and men, stands Valeria, a figure of enigma and strength. Not just a shadow in the saga of Conan the Barbarian, but a force unto herself, a warrior whose tale weaves through the tapestry of our legend like a silver thread through a tapestry of iron and blood.

    This chronicle, borne of ink and dream, sets forth to explore the depths of Valeria’s soul. Herein lies not just a recounting of her deeds of valor and skill at arms, but a voyage into the heart of her strength, the sorrows that shaped her, and the indelible mark she left upon this world and beyond. Her tale is one of triumph and tragedy, a testament to the resilience and complexity that lie within the heart of a warrior.

    Join us, then, as we embark upon this journey, delving into the essence of Valeria. Let us uncover the layers of her story, from her battles against the dark forces that plague our world to the inner struggles that define the very core of her being.

    Who is Valeria?

    • Conan The Barbarian Valeria of Conan the Barbarian: A Tale of Strength & Tragedy
    • Conan The Barbarian Valeria of Conan the Barbarian: A Tale of Strength & Tragedy
    • Conan The Barbarian Valeria of Conan the Barbarian: A Tale of Strength & Tragedy

    Origin & Background

    Valeria first appeared in Robert E. Howard’s “Red Nails”, the last book about Conan he ever wrote. Her background, tied to the Red Brotherhood, sets her apart as a woman of adventure and defiance, refusing to be subjugated by dominant male figures like Red Ortho. Her narrative journey, spanning from “Red Nails” to the iconic 1982 film “Conan the Barbarian” and its 1984 sequel “Conan the Destroyer”, showcases her evolution from a fierce swordswoman to a character of complex emotions and profound influence.


    Valeria stands out for her preference to be in the company of men, often viewing other women as weaker counterparts. This trait, however, does not stem from a disdain for her gender but rather from a desire to transcend the traditional roles imposed on women. Her independence is fiercely guarded, and her decisions, be it in combat or personal matters, are made with a strong sense of autonomy.

    Skills & Unique Qualities

    Valeria’s skills in combat are exceptional. She is stronger and quicker than the average man, possessing a finesse in swordplay that is both dazzling and effective. Her encounters, whether it be with a man who attempted to assault her or in the heat of battle alongside Conan, highlight her exceptional combat abilities. In “Red Nails”, her independence and decision-making prowess are evident, and these traits are further explored in the “Conan the Barbarian” films, where her emotional depth and influence on Conan add layers to her character. 

    Looks & Appearance

    Described vividly in “Red Nails”, Valeria is a striking figure: tall, full-bosomed, and large-limbed, with an appearance that radiates strength without compromising her femininity. Her attire, consisting of short, wide-legged silk breeches, a silken sash, flaring-topped boots, and a low-necked silk shirt, complements her warrior persona. She is armed with a straight double-edged sword and a long dirk, symbols of her readiness for battle.

    Conan The Barbarian Valeria of Conan the Barbarian: A Tale of Strength & Tragedy

    Valeria’s Journey Throughout the Conan Universe

    In ‘Red Nails’

    In “Red Nails,” Valeria, a member of the Red Brotherhood, flees into the jungle after killing a would-be rapist. Conan, seeking an alliance and romantic relationship with her, follows. Their confrontation is interrupted by a dinosaur-like dragon, which they eventually outsmart and kill using poison. They discover the enclosed city of Xuchotl and find themselves entangled in a deadly feud between the city’s last two factions. Valeria allies with Techotl, and they are welcomed by the rulers, Olmec and Tascela. She later uncovers Tascela’s treachery and is targeted for a youth-stealing ritual. The tale climaxes with a battle against Tascela, during which Conan, trapped in a steel trap, watches as Valeria bravely fights off Tascela. The intervention of Tolkemec, wielding a lightning-shooting scepter, turns the tides. Valeria, after freeing herself, kills Tascela, ending the feud and leaving Xuchotl deserted.

    In Conan the Barbarian (1982)

    In the 1982 film, Valeria’s character exists as an interesting amalgamation between her character in Red Nails and Belit, another iconic woman from Conan’s universe. In the movie, she is first seen in the city of Zamora, where she meets Conan and Subotai. Together, they execute a heist at the Tower of Serpents, gaining riches and killing a giant snake. They are later captured and brought to King Osric, who hires them to rescue his daughter from Thulsa Doom. Valeria shows exceptional combat skills, intelligence, and emotional depth throughout the film. Her relationship with Conan is significant, going beyond a simple romance. During their mission, Valeria valiantly fights but is mortally wounded by an arrow shot by Doom. Her death deeply affects Conan, driving his quest for vengeance. She makes a spiritual return to save Conan during a battle, showcasing her enduring strength and impact on his life. 

    In Conan the Destroyer (1984)

    In the sequel, “Conan the Destroyer,” Conan is driven by his desire to resurrect Valeria. Though she doesn’t appear physically in the film, her presence is deeply felt. Conan’s actions are motivated by his longing for her, and he is persuaded to undertake a quest with the promise of her resurrection. Valeria’s impact on Conan is evident throughout the film, influencing his decisions and underscoring the depth of their relationship. Her spirit and legacy play a crucial role in Conan’s journey, highlighting her importance in the Conan universe.

    Through these appearances, Valeria’s character arc traverses from a fierce, independent warrior in “Red Nails” to a key figure in Conan’s emotional and narrative journey in the films. Her strength, resilience, and complexity make her a standout character that influenced the development of female roles in the fantasy genre.

    • Conan The Barbarian Valeria of Conan the Barbarian: A Tale of Strength & Tragedy
    • Conan The Barbarian Valeria of Conan the Barbarian: A Tale of Strength & Tragedy
    • Conan The Barbarian Valeria of Conan the Barbarian: A Tale of Strength & Tragedy
    • Conan The Barbarian Valeria of Conan the Barbarian: A Tale of Strength & Tragedy

    The Appeal of Valeria to Audiences

    Breaking away from traditional female stereotypes, Valeria offers a more relatable and inspiring figure to viewers. Her independence is fiercely asserted, exemplified in instances like knifing an officer for inappropriate advances and choosing a life akin to that of a man. Her initial rejection of Conan’s romantic advances, which later softens, adds layers to her character, showcasing her evolving nature. Her journey from refusing to be subjugated as the mistress of a pirate captain to embarking on daring adventures further emphasizes her non-conformity to traditional roles.

    In “Red Nails,” Valeria’s introduction as a former pirate wanting equal treatment among men underscores her exceptional character. Her quick-thinking and combat prowess are prominently displayed during her confrontation with a stegosaurus-shaped dragon, using poisoned daggers to secure victory. This portrayal as a tenacious, fiery woman who asserts her place in a male-dominated world appeals to audiences, offering a fresh perspective on female roles in fantasy settings.

    Valeria’s portrayals have long sparked discussions and admiration among fans, often being compared with other iconic female warriors like Red Sonja. Fans praise her for breaking conventional norms in fantasy narratives, viewing her as a trailblazer for female empowerment within the genre. Valeria is frequently cited as a favorite for her ability to stand as an equal among male characters, challenging and redefining traditional gender norms in fantasy literature and film.

    Valeria, a woman of iron will and unyielding spirit, stands as a beacon, a testament to the strength that dwells within the heart of those who dare to defy the chains of convention. In her, we find not just a character penned by the scribes of yore but a legacy that transcends the boundaries of her realm, inspiring those who walk the paths of both reality and fantasy.

    Let this be an invitation, a clarion call, to all who yearn for tales of valor and strength, to journey through the pages of “Red Nails.” In its lines, you shall traverse the perilous jungles, confront the beasts of lore, and stand alongside Valeria as she carves her destiny with the edge of her blade.

    So, take up this quest, immerse yourself in the saga of Valeria, and let her story awaken the undying spirit of adventure that slumbers within your soul. For in the tales of old, there is wisdom, there is courage, and above all, there is the eternal fire of the human spirit that burns ever bright.

    Conan The Barbarian Valeria of Conan the Barbarian: A Tale of Strength & Tragedy

  • Lo Terry

    In his effort to help Heroic Signatures tell legendary stories, Lo Terry does a lot. Sometimes, that means spearheading an innovative, AI-driven tavern adventure. In others it means writing words in the voice of a mischievous merchant for people to chuckle at. It's a fun time.

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