Previous to the events of The Hour of the Dragon, Zenobia was a concubine of the Nemedian king, though she swore he had never touched her. When Conan made a state visit to the kingdom of Nemedia at the head of his knights, she immediately fell in love with the Cimmerian, wishing to be with him. Years later, Conan became King of Aquilonia after usurping the crown from its tyrant Numedides, a group of conspirators with the help of the ancient sorcerer Xaltotun, plotted to dethrone Conan. Zenobia discovered Conan had been captured and offered her help and aided in his escape. Later, when Conan gathered his forces to defeat the conspirators, Xaltotun attempted to sacrifice Zenobia in a altar to gain more power, but Conan stopped him by throwing a dagger in his hand and decapitated him, though his victory would not have been possible with the Heart of Ahriman. Conan married her and made her queen of Aquilonia. A Khitan sorcerer named Yah Chieng later kidnapped her, forcing Conan to undertake a long journey to rescue her. After doing so, the two returned to Aquilonia and resumed their rule of the kingdom. For several years, Conan ruled wisely and the land was peaceful. Zenobia bored him two sons (Conn and Taurus) and a daughter, sadly she died during childbirth while delivering her fourth child.
She is described in The Hour of the Dragon as "lithe" and "beautiful." She has long, luxurious black hair and a notably pale skin tone. Her eyes are particularly stunning. In the novel, she wore only jeweled breast plates and a "wisp of silk twisted about her loins". Along with attributes proper for a concubine like dancing and court etiquette, Zenobia shows a knowledge of weaponry and battle situations superior to what could have been expected from her type, with Conan noticing she knew how to choose a knife for fighting. She also seems to have a considerable skill with the bow and the arrow, being capable to score a kill on a would-be assassin of Conan in one of his adventures.