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Placement of Conan Books In Chronology (All Authors)


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#41 korak

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Posted 05 June 2006 - 09:32 PM

Nice one, Grim! :lol: And that was one that Kurt bought into, too! ha ha

#42 Darkstorm Dale

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Posted 06 June 2006 - 12:20 AM

Welcome to the board! I very much enjoy your chronology and I think as far as a Howard pure timeline goes it has been well thought out and is very logical.
That said, I disagree with you on one placement: God in the Bowl. My reasoning is simple. Howard said in the Miller 1936 letter that
"Conan was about seventeen when he was introduced to the public in "The Tower of the Elephant." While not fully matured, he was riper than the average civilized youth at that age. ...............There was the space of about a year between Vanarium and his entrance into the thief-city of Zamora. During this time he returned to the northern territories of his tribe, and made his first journey beyond the boundaries of Cimmeria. This, strange to say, was north instead of south. Why or how, I am not certain, but he spent some months among a tribe of the Aesir, fighting with the Vanir and the Hyperboreans, and developing a hate for the latter which lasted all his life and later affected his policies as king of Aquilonia. Captured by them, he escaped southward and came into Zamora [my emphasis] in time to make his debut in print.

I am not sure that the adventure chronicled in "Rogues in the House" occurred in Zamora. The presence of opposing factions of politics would seem to indicate otherwise, since Zamora was an absolute despotism where differing political opinions were not tolerated. I am of the opinion that the city was one of the small city-states lying just west of Zamora, and into which Conan had wandered after leaving Zamora.
[my emphasis]
Shortly after this he returned for a brief period to Cimmeria, and there were other returns to his native land from time to time. ......................
Cordially,
Robert E. Howard"


I feel due to Howard's statements in this letter he left no room for speculation as to where he arrived in the Hyborian world first: In Zamora. So clearly to me Tower of the elephant should come before The God in the Bowl. He is an unrefined thief in both tales but in Bowl he is working for a patron something that seems unlikely for his first job to me. I liked the clever arguement you used about Taurus of Nemedia and all but Howard himself said he started in Zamora and moved westward for subsequent tales (like God in the bowl and Rogues in the House.) good enough for me.


Boy, there's enough room (speculation-wise) to drive a truck through! Howard states that there was the space of about a year between Venarium and THE TOWER OF THE ELEPHANT. He went north after Venarium, spent a few months (fighting during the northern winter) with the Aesir, until he was captured by the Hyperboreans (btw a Hyborian nation). He escaped and fled south (crossing at least part of Brythunia, another Hyborian nation) into Zamora. He could have spent upwards of 6 to 8 months wandering around the Hyborian lands before ever setting foot in Zamora. Howard even alludes to that possibility in TOWER:
"These people (the Zamorans)were strange and mysterious to him; they were not of his kind - not even of the same blood as the more westerly Brythunians, Nemedians, Kothians, and Aquilonians, whose civilized mysteries had awed him in times past. The people of Zamora were very ancient, and, from what he had seen of them, very evil."

So what do we make of that? At the very least, it makes it hard to discount the possibility that Conan visited Nemedia prior to his entering Zamora.

Plus, there is the order that the stories were written. BY THIS AXE I RULE was rewritten into the first Conan story, THE PHOENIX ON THE SWORD. After that, the stories were written by Howard in this order:
THE FROST GIANTS DAUGHTER (Conan in his natural barbaric surroundings)
THE GOD IN THE BOWL (Conan as a naive thief has his first real run-in with the laws of civilization)
Howard then sent the three completed stories to Farnsworth Wright at Weird Tales. He then wrote:
THE TOWER OF THE ELEPHANT (Conan's coming-of-age as a thief tale. He accomplished a feat that the prince of thieves couldn't pull off)
He started working on his next story, but only got as far as a synopsis when he got news that Wright had accepted PHOENIX, but rejected the other two submitted stories. Howard probably felt that another King Conan story would have a better chance at being accepted by Wright, so he scrapped the story he was working on and turned his efforts to the writing THE SCARLET CITADEL. He sent ELEPHANT and CITADEL to Weird Tales and both were accepted.

It seems apparent to me that after PHOENIX, Howard began to write his Conan stories in a chronological manner, only to abort that approach after failing to sell DAUGHTER and BOWL. The tales really do seem to build upon each other.

Conan started thieving upon entering the Hyborian lands in order to survive (he claims he stole food at sword-point during this time in THE BLACK STRANGER). It's not that great a leap to try to steal in order to make money. It makes sense to steal stuff for people directly if you don't know the language or customs, since fencing stolen goods requires the right connections. So I really don't see a problem with stealing for a patron from a purely logical standpoint this early in Conan's career.

Also, Howard states that Conan wandered into one of the small city-states lying to the west of Zamora, and that's where the event of ROGUES IN THE HOUSE took place. He did not state that Conan started in Zamora and moved westward for any or all subsequent thief tales; just the one (ROGUES). Using Howard to support your opinion is great; just make sure that he actually does. ;)
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#43 grim cimmerian

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Posted 07 June 2006 - 10:04 PM

Very good points to chew on all, but it still is far from a closed case for me....
[quote name='Darkstorm Dale' post='46813' date='Jun 5 2006, 05:20 PM']He could have spent upwards of 6 to 8 months wandering around the Hyborian lands before ever setting foot in Zamora.[/quote]

I disagree with your time assessment completely as to me it seems very unreasonable given foot travel time over hundreds of miles (if you overlay the modern world map as Howard did for some idea of scale) and several mountain ranges. To be fair let's examine it.
1.Venarium
(I find it unlikely he took off for the north countries immediately after the battle more likely he returned and spent at least some time with his clan.)
2. Wanders north
(crossing the Eiglophian Mountains would have taken at least a few weeks)
3. fights alongside Aesir "for some months" as Howard puts it
(now to me the phrase "some months suggests more than a few months but perhaps not as many as 6 or he would have said something like half the year so to be fair let's say 3 months spent with them.)

given the time spent in steps 1 & 2 let's make it a total of 4 months to this point.

4.captured by the Hyperboreans
(it isn't specified how much time he spent in captivity at all, and it stands to reason any Cimmerian would have rankled and sought escape at the nearest opportunity, but to develop such a deep hatred that later affected his kingly policies he must have endured at least some time there so to be fair let's add two weeks.)
5.he escapes and heads south out of Hyperborea eventually crossing the Graskaal Mountains into Brythunia (this must have taken at least a week if not more.)

so at this point Conan's journeys could have taken nearly five months at a conservative estimate.

6. He crosses Brythunia
(now considering there is no mountain border between Nemedia and Brythunia he could have zigzagged his way across both or done loopty loops without any rhyme or reason in either country but it still would take time to reach the Zamoran border. lets say another month just in southward travel alone.)
7. Crosses Karpash mountains into Zamora then has time to learn language and philosophy at street preacher's feet
(let's say another three weeks)
now we are ready for the events of Tower with a conservative estimate of nearly 7 months if he heads straight there and spends no more than a month in Brythunia and possibly Nemedia. he certainly didn't spend upwards of 8 months trapsing about as you suggest.
It is more likely that all the stages of his journey above could have taken much more time.

Now to make the 'around a year thing until Tower' work we could dump the remaining 3 months anywhere along his journey but he most likely spent more time in Brythunia and even Nemedia as you suggest.

[quote name='Darkstorm Dale' post='46813' date='Jun 5 2006, 05:20 PM']Howard even alludes to that possibility in TOWER:
"These people (the Zamorans)were strange and mysterious to him; they were not of his kind - not even of the same blood as the more westerly Brythunians, Nemedians, Kothians, and Aquilonians, whose civilized mysteries had awed him in times past. The people of Zamora were very ancient, and, from what he had seen of them, very evil."[/quote]


This is a fantastic point and does suggest he travelled in other than a linear fashion however, Brythunia, Nemedia and Zamora are cosmopolitan and he could have met and familiarized himself with any race in any one of the three countries up to this point. he didn't necessarily need to travel to their country of origin for the quote to remain true. (I am familiar with Mexicans and their culture although I have never been there.) Also it isn't ever defined what he did for all we know he hugged the Karpash range the whole way and skipped any civilization in Brythunia altogether. Howard provides a reasonable backing for this by saying Conan may have had his first taste of Civilization at some peacable visit to some town or fort on the border prior to Venarium. Likely had he done so he could have met any of the races in the quote above.

[quote name='Darkstorm Dale' post='46813' date='Jun 5 2006, 05:20 PM']So what do we make of that? At the very least, it makes it hard to discount the possibility that Conan visited Nemedia prior to his entering Zamora.[/quote]


I agree it is very easy to suppose he travelled there considering no major physical impediments in the geography, the question is how much time could he have spent there (and in Brythunia) to still make it to zamora in a year? I believe I have already given a reasonable estimate of 4-5 months in these countries maximum. does this leave plenty of time for the God in the Bowl events before Tower? sure it does and I think your logic is very good for the swapping positions of these two tales, I just don't think there is enough of it to justify the switch as it easily could still be the other way.


[quote name='Darkstorm Dale' post='46813' date='Jun 5 2006, 05:20 PM']Conan started thieving upon entering the Hyborian lands in order to survive (he claims he stole food at sword-point during this time in THE BLACK STRANGER). It's not that great a leap to try to steal in order to make money. It makes sense to steal stuff for people directly if you don't know the language or customs, since fencing stolen goods requires the right connections. So I really don't see a problem with stealing for a patron from a purely logical standpoint this early in Conan's career.[/quote]


I don't see a problem with it either, I just said it seems to me more likely to start a criminal activity on one's own (as in Tower) than with at least one accomplice (as in Bowl) suggesting at least some time getting used to the trade and learning how other thieves and fences operate enough to seek an employer. However he may have completely chanced into it such as> patron:"gee I wish I had that." Conan:"really? I'll go get it for you." Patron: "would you? I'll pay you handsomely"
in such a senario it is perfectly logical he could have acquired a patron with no real experience in the trade.


[quote name='Darkstorm Dale' post='46813' date='Jun 5 2006, 05:20 PM']Also, Howard states that Conan wandered into one of the small city-states lying to the west of Zamora, and that's where the event of ROGUES IN THE HOUSE took place. He did not state that Conan started in Zamora and moved westward for any or all subsequent thief tales; just the one (ROGUES).[/quote]



Right. I just meant to convey it also is a possible logical conclusion based on scant material to include the Bowl tale in this westward reasoning. I didn't say he actually did say that.

[quote name='Darkstorm Dale' post='46813' date='Jun 5 2006, 05:20 PM']Plus, there is the order that the stories were written. BY THIS AXE I RULE was rewritten into the first Conan story, THE PHOENIX ON THE SWORD. After that, the stories were written by Howard in this order:
THE FROST GIANTS DAUGHTER (Conan in his natural barbaric surroundings)
THE GOD IN THE BOWL (Conan as a naive thief has his first real run-in with the laws of civilization)
Howard then sent the three completed stories to Farnsworth Wright at Weird Tales. He then wrote:
THE TOWER OF THE ELEPHANT (Conan's coming-of-age as a thief tale. He accomplished a feat that the prince of thieves couldn't pull off)
He started working on his next story, but only got as far as a synopsis when he got news that Wright had accepted PHOENIX, but rejected the other two submitted stories. Howard probably felt that another King Conan story would have a better chance at being accepted by Wright, so he scrapped the story he was working on and turned his efforts to the writing THE SCARLET CITADEL. He sent ELEPHANT and CITADEL to Weird Tales and both were accepted.

It seems apparent to me that after PHOENIX, Howard began to write his Conan stories in a chronological manner, only to abort that approach after failing to sell DAUGHTER and BOWL. The tales really do seem to build upon each other.[/quote]


This is a very convincing arguement for your positioning of the god in the bowl tale (and we will never know for sure until someone can sucessfully contact Howard's shade :rolleyes: ) but why did Howard allude to FGD in the miller letter but not God in the Bowl? Why didn't he say something if he ever hoped to get that particular tale published? Why did he mostly give the nod to their chronology with few mentioned corrections? I think it would be interesting to ask him if he felt the chronology of the Cimmerian to him included just the tales published or all tales he had written about the character and later set aside or were rejected by editors. At least the FGD was published at this point (under the other character name change) so maybe thats why he felt the need to say Conan went north and allude to the tale. since God in Bowl hadn't seen the light of day yet maybe he didn't think it ever would so didn't allude to it (obviously it would be unfair to mention it directly to two fans who could have never heard of it).

So I still think Tower should come first until some more evidence comes forth (here is a prod for you to come up with more brilliant arguments, as I said your logic is very good in your timeline you are very clever.)


P.S. unsure why quote boxes aren't working sorry

Okay there we go

Edited by grim cimmerian, 07 June 2006 - 10:37 PM.

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#44 grim cimmerian

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Posted 07 June 2006 - 10:43 PM

some additional thoughts on Tower and Bowl:
Conan is outright spurned for even mentioning the Tower robbery plans and eventually kills a man because of it. Clearly this is a novice thief if there ever was one.
In Bowl he hacks through a lock and fails to recognize a guard, but the job by itself isn't such a ludicrous proposition as was robbing the Tower and any thief might have been hired by the same patron to steal from the museum (a much more realistic prospect for a thief altogether)
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#45 Darkstorm Dale

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Posted 08 June 2006 - 03:01 AM

I want to respond to this at length, but I warn you, this will probably not make much sense. My Mom died yesterday morning and I'm writing this in an attempt to focus my mind on something else for a spell.

I can't get the quotes box to work either, so I'm just going to dispense with it for now. No patience, go figure...

Before I start, I want you to understand a bit about how I approached creating the Darkstorm chronology. First off, it consists of Howard only material; no pastiche stuff allowed (other than using their titles for the unfinished fragments). Secondly, I tend to "weigh" facts by relegating Howards works into primary and secondary sources. Primary sources are any completely finished story, published or not. Secondary sources are fragments, synopsis, letters and supporting materials, such as the Hyborian Age essay. If there is a conflict between what a story claims as fact and what a fragment claims, the published story takes precedence. Howard could always have changed something from a fragment before publication, but once it's finished and submitted, it's a done deal. There wasn't too much conflict between the two types of sources, but one did arise that has a bit of bearing on our discussion.

How old was Conan at Venarium? Most people will reply that he was fifteen years old, since Howard states in the March 10, 1936 letter to Miller and Clark that he was that age. In that instance, though, Howard sort of got it wrong. In BEYOND THE BLACK RIVER, Conan claims the at the time of Venarium he "hadn't yet seen fifteen snows". No matter how you parse this, it means that Conan was fourteen at the time of Venarium. To be fair, he could be fourteen years and nine months, but any older and he would have had to have seen fifteen snows. Now does any of this matter? Howard in his letter could have simply been "ball-parking" Conan's age instead of saying "almost fifteen". What it means to me is that Venarium occured when Conan was nearly fifteen, and that he was actually fifteen when he spent the "space of about a year" wandering around. Now realistically, about a year would probably parse out to one year +/- two months.

So far, you're probably wondering what his has to do with your time Conan spent wandering around breakdown. It's just that you've misinterpreted something that Howard stated in his letter. Howard's letter states "There was the space of about a year between Vanarium and his entrance into the thief-city of Zamora". Your timeline has Conan wandering between Venarium and THE TOWER OF THE ELEPHANT, when in reality that year was actually spent between Venarium and Conan's entrance into the thief-city. That means if he was almost fifteen at Venarium and spent around a year wandering, Conan would only be about 16 or possibly just 16 at the time he entered the city. Since Howard states in his letter that Conan was "about seventeen when he was intoduced to the public in THE TOWER OF THE ELEPHANT", this means that Conan wasn't really as much of a novice thief as you seem to think; he had spent around a year in the city prior the the events of TOWER.

Now it's my opinion that there is a lot of wiggle room in this timeline. If Conan's "around a year' was actually 14 months (this shortens the year spent in the Thief-city slightly, since a year just seems like too long a time for the Conan we see in TOWER to have lived there), then you could add that extra two months to the extra three months of your timeline, plus the three weeks that you had him studying in Zamora, it could very easily amount to eight months of time spent in the Hyborian lands before entering Zamora. And it all stays within the timelines that Howard has laid out in his letter.

Your additional thought on Tower and Bowl gave me a bit of a chuckle since it sort of supports my contention that Bowl comes before Tower. Robbing a museum is a much more realistic prospect for a novice thief, while robbing Yara's Tower takes real cojones; not the sort of prize an extremely novice thief would attempt, but the kind of thing a thief with around two years of experience and confident in his abilities might attempt to make a name for himself. I guess I don't really understand why Conan's unsuccessful attempt to learn about Yara's tower would mark him as "a novice thief if ever there was one". It really only shows that he's extremely impulsive, a trait that Conan exhibits at every point in his career.

More on this soonish; i'm done for the night.

Edited to restore clarity damaged by dementia brought on by excessive alcohol

Edited by Darkstorm Dale, 08 June 2006 - 01:35 PM.

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#46 Pictish Scout

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Posted 08 June 2006 - 04:48 PM

I think you would like to chech this


http://www.dodgenet..../Conancron.html

#47 Darkstorm Dale

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Posted 08 June 2006 - 05:41 PM

This is a very convincing arguement for your positioning of the god in the bowl tale (and we will never know for sure until someone can sucessfully contact Howard's shade :rolleyes: ) but why did Howard allude to FGD in the miller letter but not God in the Bowl? Why didn't he say something if he ever hoped to get that particular tale published? Why did he mostly give the nod to their chronology with few mentioned corrections? I think it would be interesting to ask him if he felt the chronology of the Cimmerian to him included just the tales published or all tales he had written about the character and later set aside or were rejected by editors. At least the FGD was published at this point (under the other character name change) so maybe thats why he felt the need to say Conan went north and allude to the tale. since God in Bowl hadn't seen the light of day yet maybe he didn't think it ever would so didn't allude to it (obviously it would be unfair to mention it directly to two fans who could have never heard of it).


Basing an entire arguement on the merits of the March 10, 1936 letter seems to me to bit a bit of a controversial choice for a couple of reasons.

First off, the letter isn't any type of "official" document chronicling the life of Conan. If Howard wanted to pin-point dates and places he very easily could have. The facts alluded to in the letter are written in a fairly opaque manner; nothing is exactly defined, it's all "almost", "nearly" and "perhaps". Howard states a couple of time that he him doesn't have a concrete answer to give the fans. All of this gives the impression that Howard has a lot of sketchy knowledge about Conan in his head that had never been written down before this letter.

Secondly, Howard makes several specious references in the letter that aren't literally true. The age of Conan at Venarium I mentioned yesterday is one. He states that "Conan was about seventeen when he was introduced to the public in "The Tower of the Elephant." and "Captured by them, he escaped southward and came into Zamora in time to make his debut in print." Both of these statements are literally wrong as Conan's introduction and public debut were in THE PHOENIX ON THE SWORD. Now we all understand that Howard is actually referring to Conan's CHRONOLOGICAL introduction and debut, but the effect of this shows Howard playing fast and loose with the truth, sort of just glossing it over. The actual effect of this really doesn't mean anything, since it's only an informal letter to a couple of fans. But it does make you wonder what else just sort of gets glossed over.

The actuality in reading the letter is that Howard doesn't correct any of the Miller/Clark outline's "minor differences". He really only gives three of his Conan stories chronological anchor points (TOWER is first, HOUR OF THE DRAGON is last, and implies that ROGUES IN THE HOUSE follows TOWER). However, it's important to note that in the context of the letter, none of these are corrections to the Miller/Clark placements in their outline. So, what are these minor differences? The world can never actually be sure. We can make educated guesses, however.

It's my opinion that Howard gave the fans a very passive-agressive rationale to the fans as to why their version of the outline doesn't match exactly with his. He does it when he explains Conan's early life and his wanderings between Venarium and TOWER. He does it when he explains that Conan left for Cimmeria after ROGUES. He does it when he describes Conan's later life as king. He is basically saying that He knew information that they weren't privy to; they could never be exactly right because they don't have all the pieces of the puzzle.

Why Howard didn't mention GOD IN THE BOWL in his letter when he did allude to FROST-GIANTS DAUGHTER? I have nothing but speculation on that matter. Honestly he didn't mention any of his unpublished stories, probably because it would only cause confusion. It can't be like he expected them to see publication anytime soon. I doubt that he mentioned it because of GODS OF THE NORTH, since it featured Amra of Akbitania instead of Conan. Most likely he mentioned it because he knew Conan went north instead of straight from Venarium to Zamora like the fans postulated. It was part of his mental landscape comprising all things Conan. Trying to decide why Howard did or didn't do something is akin to chasing your tail in circles; just makes you dizzy. Let me put it this way; Howard doesn't mention GOD IN THE BOWL during the year that he wandered from Cimmeria to Zamora. Nor does he mention that it takes place after ROGUES, only that Conan went back to Cimmeria. So where is it placed? You can't make a case either way off the Miller/Clark letter. You need to make the case off of the published stories.

Fact 1: THE BLACK STRANGER claims that Conan robbed people in Hyborian lands at swordpoint when he was hungry. All in all, this comment only makes sense if it occurs pre-Zamora. Stealing food at swordpoint implies a certain amount of desperation; starving in a land where one doesn't speak the language would fit the bill, since you don't need to be fluent to make yourself understood if you are doing all your communicating with your sword. It also notes that Conan states that his occured while in a Hyborian land, so Conan had to have been in Hyboria prior to his journey to Zamora. This factoid makes no sense post-Zamora, since he was an accomplished thief at that point and had many options in aquiring food without resorting to armed robbery.

Fact 2: Howard stated in TOWER OF THE ELEPHANT that the more westerly Brythunians, Nemedians, Kothians, and Aquilonians had civilized mysteries that had awed Conan in times past. This certainly implies that Conan has seen several Hyborian lands prior to TOWER OF THE ELEPHANT and that he is comparing the Zamorans to the Hyborian peoples in the lands that he's already traveled through. Think about it this way; would Conan feel awe about any race of people that he met in Zamora? Would he experience awe at the telling of the wonderful things that they had accomplished? I could see Conan being impressed at a Hyborian recounting the wonders of his civilization but experencing awe? The civilized mysteries of the Hyborians filled him with awe. Awe is something you have to experience; an emotional response that my dictionary calls "reverential fear, dread mingled with veneration". Have you ever been told a story that provoked that kind of response? For instance, I can be told that the Great Pyramid ( the first place on my itinerary of places to see) is astonishingly impressive, could even see pictures of it, and it wouldn't provoke the absolute awe of seeing it with your own eyes for the first time. And I know that Conan experienced an emotional reaction when he visited Nemedia and encountered the Serpent -god of the bowl. He was so terrified by his atavistic fear of the thing (even dead) that he fled the city and didn't stop until dawn. That is exactly what awe is, which is why we have the word "awful". I don't think Conan meeting Hyborians in Zamora would fill him with awe. i think he would have to experience those mysteries first hand to actually experience an emotional reaction like that.

Fact 3: Howard's letter claims that the space of about a year (one year +/- two months) from Conan's adventure in Venarium to his entry into Zamora's Thief city. Of that time he spent several months campaigning with the Aesir, leaving in excess of 6 months wandering around Hyboria before entering Zamora. (I need to make note of your having Conan crossing the Eiglophian, the Graskaal, and the Karpash Mountain ranges. These are all pastiche inventions that may not have existed in Howard's vision of the Hyborian world. Caviat lector!)

Fact 4: THE GOD IN THE BOWL shows Conan as a very inexperienced and naive thief, doing things an experienced thief would never contemplate, such as:
A real thief (one who would want to last more than a few times) would try to make himself as inconspicuous as possible while breaking and entering. Conan bashes his way into Kallin's treasure house by bashing a bolt on the roof until it is cut in two. Since it is night, the sound would carry farther and be more likely to alert the guards that something odd is happening. To be fair, Conan could have cleaved the bolt in two with one stroke of his sword, but making loud noises breaking into a house is something that a thief would try to minimize, if not eliminate.
A real thief would expect that anyone he met in the house he broke into to be a guard, the homeowner, or someone who is supposed to be there (i.e., the worst possible scenario). Conan assumes it's another thief, even though he just watched the man make his rounds minutes earlier.
A real thief would be aware that there is no "honor among thieves". It would probably be their first commandment. Conan expects his busted employer to be a stand-up guy, and confess to his role in the burglary. He is even "stung" that Aztrias denies hiring him. A real thief wouldn't have expected a confession from his own mother.
A real thief would have fabricated a plausible reason for being in Kallin's treasure house that the corrupt police wouldn't have been eager to confirm before he even broke into the place ("I'm here to steal incriminating letters for the governor. Why don't you go ask him?"). Conan's excuse is that he's looking for food. Now for the young Cimmerian, that not a real stretch since Howard has Conan in THE BLACK STRANGER relate that he had to steal food at sword point to keep from starving when he first came into the Hyborian lands. But there isn't a police force in the country that would buy that as an excuse. I mean can you imagine telling a police detective, "Honestly, officer, I was only in the jewelry story to loot the vending machine".
Also, comparing Conan's reactions to encountering the Son of Set in BOWL and Yag-kosha in TOWER is a bit enlightening. In TOWER, Conan freezes at the sight of a living god, in BOWL he flees at the sight of a dead one. Atavistic fear is involved both times. I wouldn't think Conan would be that scared of a dead Son of Set (one he'd killed pretty dang easily) if he'd already had the far closer involvement with Yag-Kosha. Not that it would eliminate his fear, just that it would temper it to the point that he wouldn't flee the whole city and not slow down 'til rosy-fingered dawn.
Taken all together, I really can't see Conan acting in this manner after the event of TOWER OF THE ELEPHANT and its sequel, ROGUES IN THE HOUSE. The Cimmerian would have been a thief for what; about 4 years at this time. He should have been WAY more polished as a thief at that time.

Fact 5: There is the continually escalating order in which Howard wrote the early Conan stories, 1st story showing Conan in his natural, irrational setting (FGD), 2nd showing Conan in his first real brush with civilized law & order and as a naive, inept thief (GITB), 3rd showing Conan's coming of age as a thief, managing to accomplish a feat the prince of thieves died trying to do (TOTE), and the 4th showing Conan as such a notorious thief that a small army is set out to capture him (HOTD synopsis).

All in all, there is enough weight to all of this evidence to reasonably place THE GOD IN THE BOWL before Conan's sojurn in Zamora. While you could conceivably nitpick each part to death, none of that really adds up into anything definite that could replace it. Following the logical chain of evidence is the only way you can go that doesn't project one's own bias onto the material. I just don't see there being any compelling argument placing GOD after Tower that is consistant with what Howard wrote. Believe me, I tried when I crafted the Darkstorm chronology.

That's all for now.

Edited by Darkstorm Dale, 08 June 2006 - 09:21 PM.

"Details are all that matters; God dwells there, and you never get to see Him if you don't struggle to get them right." - Stephen Jay Gould

"A man receives only what he is ready to receive. . . .
The phenomenon or fact that cannot in any wise be linked with the rest of what he has observed, he does not observe.
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#48 Darkstorm Dale

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Posted 08 June 2006 - 09:34 PM

I think you would like to check this


http://www.dodgenet..../Conancron.html


Wow!
The guy who wrote that obviously had way too much time on his hands!

Can't help thinking that it looks familiar somehow... B)
"Details are all that matters; God dwells there, and you never get to see Him if you don't struggle to get them right." - Stephen Jay Gould

"A man receives only what he is ready to receive. . . .
The phenomenon or fact that cannot in any wise be linked with the rest of what he has observed, he does not observe.
" - Henry D. Thoreau


"There never was an explanation which didn't itself need to be explained" - Charles Fort

"If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you." - Oscar Wilde

#49 Darkstorm Dale

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Posted 09 June 2006 - 03:28 PM

I've been enjoying this discussion, and while I'm not knowledgable enough to argue with the experts on this matter, I thought I'd chip in with my opinion about why Tower Of The Elephant comes before God In The Bowl. Please feel free (as I'm sure you will) to correct any of my faulty reasoning. :)
If I was reading them for the first time, and with no prior knowledge of Conan, then I would definitely place Elephant first, simply because, of the two stories, it reads more like an introductory tale about Conan in the civilised Hyborian world than GITB does.


;) Apparently you and L. Sprague deCamp are wired the same way concerning how to place the Conan stories. He also thought that artistic merit was more important than any other consideration. That was why both FROST GIANT'S DAUGHTER and THE GOD IN THE BOWL were assigned later spots on the Miller/Clark outline of Conan's career. Howard's intentions be damned.

Most of your arguments are based on the artistic merit of THE TOWER OF THE ELEPHANT. And, for the most part, I think you are right in your belief that Tower is the superior story. In my mind, even though it was the 4th tale of Conan written, it's the first story that truely brought all the elements that make Howard's stories great together in the right proportions.

Part of why TOWER has such a great sense of history is because Howard wrote his THE HYBORIAN AGE essay right before he started the story; he was now in a position to be able to impart a sense of history into the series. He wasn't able to do that so much in BOWL because he hadn't figured it all out yet.

As far as Conan being reactive in BOWL and proactive in TOWER; I don't really see a problem with it, so long as BOWL came first. The character being reactive is due to his unfamiliarity with all the crap going on around him. Conan is a bit unsure on exactly how to proceed when he is caught, and is further confounded upon the arrival of the police. He simply reacts to the events until he finally decides upon a course of action (showing us how deadly dangerous he really is). The proactive character in TOWER makes sense in that Conan has a somewhat better grasp of the civilized paradigm and how he fits into it. He knows he is an outsider and so uses it to his advantage. Actually going from being a proactive character in TOWER to being a reactive character in BOWL just seems wrong simply from a personal growth standpoint.

I rather doubt that Howard intended for TOWER to be an introductory story simply because at the time he wrote it, he had already submitted PHOENIX, FROST GIANTS DAUGHTER, and BOWL to Fransworth Wright at Weird Tales magazine. If Wright had accepted all three stories, then TOWER certainly wouldn't have been an introductory story unless Wright decided to publish it first, something Howard had no control over. If Wright had rejected all three stories, then Howard might have submitted TOWER, since it was already written. He also probably would have stopped writing Conan stories at that point figuring that there wasn't enough interest in the character to pursue it, turning his attention to something that would sell. Guess we'll never know.

The point to writing the DARKSTORM CONAN CHRONOLOGY was to base it strictly on the written word of Robert E. Howard. If something wasn't clear chronologically, then I needed to look at it from a whole bunch of different directions to get a sense of what Howard intended. I feel that it worked out pretty successfully, considering everyone told me that it couldn't be done.
The one thing I really tried to minimize writing the essay was projecting my own personal bias onto the material. There is exactly one instance of me doing it that I'm aware of; THE MAN-EATERS OF ZAMBOULA. The details from the stories pretty much dictated their placements in the chronology; I couldn't in all fairness to Howard place his stories due to artistic merit. I'm attempting to jettison deCamp's faulty placements, not embrace them. Howard deserves that much...
"Details are all that matters; God dwells there, and you never get to see Him if you don't struggle to get them right." - Stephen Jay Gould

"A man receives only what he is ready to receive. . . .
The phenomenon or fact that cannot in any wise be linked with the rest of what he has observed, he does not observe.
" - Henry D. Thoreau


"There never was an explanation which didn't itself need to be explained" - Charles Fort

"If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you." - Oscar Wilde

#50 johnnypt

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Posted 09 June 2006 - 07:13 PM

>>The one thing I really tried to minimize writing the essay was projecting my own personal bias onto the material. There is exactly one instance of me doing it that I'm aware of; THE MAN-EATERS OF ZAMBOULA.<<

From reading your essay, then rereading the stories, let me say I think you achieved that goal. Heck, you changed my mind about Servants by strictly using what was in the stories. On Zamboula, the way I read it there's just not enough there to nail it down for sure one way or the other. The reason why I lean towards leaving after Witch is the synopsis mentions him living with the Zuagirs for a while. I believe the only other story where he mentions them is Witch (correct me if I'm wrong), so at least the implication is there. I'd guess the reason the story may be a little short on details is because it was reworked from that detective story. Your explanation is the chronology makes sense, since the way it is he'd certainly be going around in circles (going from the Zuagirs to Zamboula, west to Ophir, east to Hyrkania and Vendya, then back west to join Da Kova's army, or to the Barachas in the orginal version). Just not sure there's enough there to show he didn't. Would love to hear your thoughts.

#51 Darkstorm Dale

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Posted 10 June 2006 - 04:12 PM

>>The one thing I really tried to minimize writing the essay was projecting my own personal bias onto the material. There is exactly one instance of me doing it that I'm aware of; THE MAN-EATERS OF ZAMBOULA.<<

From reading your essay, then rereading the stories, let me say I think you achieved that goal. Heck, you changed my mind about Servants by strictly using what was in the stories. On Zamboula, the way I read it there's just not enough there to nail it down for sure one way or the other. The reason why I lean towards leaving after Witch is the synopsis mentions him living with the Zuagirs for a while. I believe the only other story where he mentions them is Witch (correct me if I'm wrong), so at least the implication is there. I'd guess the reason the story may be a little short on details is because it was reworked from that detective story. Your explanation is the chronology makes sense, since the way it is he'd certainly be going around in circles (going from the Zuagirs to Zamboula, west to Ophir, east to Hyrkania and Vendya, then back west to join Da Kova's army, or to the Barachas in the orginal version). Just not sure there's enough there to show he didn't. Would love to hear your thoughts.


When I questioned your placement of SERVANTS OF BIT-YAKIN, I did so because I was truly curious about your rational for placing it where you did. The possiblity always exists that I might have missed something, even something blindingly obvious. It is really easy to develop "tunnel-vision" while trying to develop a theory that satisfies all of the clues that Howard sprinkled his stories with. That's why my approach to the material has always been a combination of common sense and Occam's Razor.

I didn't ask about ZAMBOULA because there is a real disconnect between Conan the Zuagir-chief from A WITCH SHALL BE BORN and Conan the Zuagir-brother of THE MAN-EATERS OF ZAMBOULA. My own opinion about the placement of the story is based on quite a bit of circumstantial evidence. I pretty much stated in the essay that my placement was more a gut feeling that anything else. I could be wrong on that one.

Unfortunately, I didn't have access the the ZAMBOULA synopsis when I wrote the chronology. It's interesting that Conan had been living with the Zuagirs just prior to his wandering into Zamboula. I'm not sure that it would have been enough to change my mind about my placement. After all, Conan could easily have wandered in from the east, hooked up with a wandering tribe of his Zuagir bretheren, spent several weeks living among them in an effort to keep a low profile while crossing Turanian territory, only to leave them and enter Zamboula in an attempt to raise enough money through gambling to travel on westward.

It's funny because common sense seems to indicate that some time has passed, while Occam's Razor would pretty much side with your placement, since that would be the simplest explaination. You can make a case either way.

One thing that always bugged me about the post-WITCH placement of Zamboula that I didn't write about in my chronology was Conan's apparent fall from grace with the Zuagirs. In WITCH we see Conan as a powerful warlord chieftain who is quite wealthy (if the loot in Olgerd's tent is any indication). ZAMBOULA portrays Conan as a penniless wanderer who needs to sell his horse in order to raise a stake gambling. That seems to indicate that something happened that deposed him as leader of the tribe, and that he left with pretty much just the clothes on his back. Now I ordinarily wouldn't have a problem with this, but WITCH states that "There's no room for a fallen chief on the desert"; indicating that the Zuagirs would attempt to kill such a man. If that were the case though, why would they still consider him "brother to the Zuagir"? It really seems that we are missing some crucial piece of information there.

I don't see a really compelling reason to change my postion of the stories placement (the synopsis stating that Conan had been the chief before wandering into Zamboula would have been compelling). That doesn't change the fact that your opinion makes some valid observations. The Darkstorm Chronology has seen publication and is featured on a dozen websites in several different languages. It's pretty much a done deal and would only cause confusion to change it now without an ironclad reason.

Just my two-cents.

Edited by Darkstorm Dale, 10 June 2006 - 04:16 PM.

"Details are all that matters; God dwells there, and you never get to see Him if you don't struggle to get them right." - Stephen Jay Gould

"A man receives only what he is ready to receive. . . .
The phenomenon or fact that cannot in any wise be linked with the rest of what he has observed, he does not observe.
" - Henry D. Thoreau


"There never was an explanation which didn't itself need to be explained" - Charles Fort

"If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you." - Oscar Wilde

#52 johnnypt

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Posted 10 June 2006 - 07:19 PM

>>When I questioned your placement of SERVANTS OF BIT-YAKIN, I did so because I was truly curious about your rational for placing it where you did. The possiblity always exists that I might have missed something, even something blindingly obvious. It is really easy to develop "tunnel-vision" while trying to develop a theory that satisfies all of the clues that Howard sprinkled his stories with. That's why my approach to the material has always been a combination of common sense and Occam's Razor.<<

I think if you read them like they are in the WS/DR books, it reads like it should follow Pool, but with the addition of Red Nails later on, the information you pointed out nails it down as to its placement because there really isn't any good reason for Conan to lie in the situation he was in about where he's been in that part of the world the situation he was in.

>>I don't see a really compelling reason to change my postion of the stories placement (the synopsis stating that Conan had been the chief before wandering into Zamboula would have been compelling). That doesn't change the fact that your opinion makes some valid observations. The Darkstorm Chronology has seen publication and is featured on a dozen websites in several different languages. It's pretty much a done deal and would only cause confusion to change it now without an ironclad reason.<<

Yeah, the synopsis did help a bit, trying to follow REH's patterns of dropping hints as to placement. But it's nothing as drastic as discovering a mention of the black lotus of Xuthal or something like that. Either placement has Conan take a big fall from grace, with no real explanation why by Howard. Thanks for the input!

#53 TwZtdJuGGalo

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Posted 11 June 2006 - 09:07 PM

It's great to see the darkstorm one here on the site.
I've enjoyed your many articles on the hyborian age and such.
Just wondering if you could elaborate on your placing "Black Colossus" before "Queen of the Black Coast"
a placement myself have thought and supported for years.

Always makes for a great debate, it's the mystery of it all that seems to attract , at least for me anyway.
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#54 PainBrush

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Posted 12 June 2006 - 02:53 AM

I'd have a hard time seeing Colossus 'before' Q/O/t/b/Coast - because Conans pretty much a wild youth in Coast , though I hesitate to call him still wet behind the ears . Read them both in one day - back to back & it glares out . - read the almost spastic , violent & careless behavior of his in black Coast , then read Colossus & consider , even though he starts it drunk as a Lord - he is a well-seasoned calculating mercenary & even cut-throat assassin , & THEN he quite adeptly manages to handle an entire army & logistics required ( & HEAVY CAVALRY at that !!) - which speaks to MUCH experience he doesn't yet show in Black Coast in thr least . & he uses very sober decision making in Colossus - even when another hot behind the collar general & ally of his acts rashly like you'd expect of a younger Conan . Conan even says to another leader who mentions that ....- yeah - he'd have rushed madly forward that way in his "younger days " - but he only had his own life to consider then ! - NOT a thing you would have heard from Conan in Q/o/t/b/Coast - a Conan who manages to just sit & watch a handful of his own very much needed men die violently in a trap when Belit holds him back & lets them proceed like cattle !! He doesn't even fly off the handle about it !! - Consider the type of disregard & carelessness needed for being a bloodthirsty murderous pirate also - details Howard doesn't dwell on in Coast - but DEFINITELY mentions ! & Consider - he starts Colossuss off swaggering drunk down the middle of the street in a very dangerous part of a very dangerous town without a care in the world , - including the police , & he starts off Black Coast running for his life from the cops - due to his 'youthful indiscretions' I guess - can't just shrug that stuff off to make a chronology that might flow evenly from city-to-city on a map - he was a wanderer - regardless of whatever point in his life .

Edited by PAINBRUSH, 12 June 2006 - 02:59 AM.

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#55 grim cimmerian

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Posted 12 June 2006 - 06:53 PM

I want to respond to this at length, but I warn you, this will probably not make much sense. My Mom died yesterday morning and I'm writing this in an attempt to focus my mind on something else for a spell.



My condolences for your loss I am deeply sorry.

I truly enjoy this discussion on your chronology (an I believe it is a very fine one and only disagree with that one placement)
First I must admit yes I use the Miller letter as the "ten commandments" so to speak as it is the only time that Howard actually addresses the chronology issue and it seems you give it a more subjective interpretation.
The fact that Conan is robbing people at sword point could have happened anywhere including Hyperborea (you stated they are Hyboreans) I can't remember offhand my Hyborian age that well.
Just simply looking at Howard's map and the implication he made on the order of the stories leads one from Cimmeria to Nordheim, to Hyperboria, to brythunia (mentioned he escaped south) True Howard didn't have mountain ranges on his map, but they are established now so deeply in the Hyborian world that I consider them cannon and any timeline would have to take into account their travel time. From here really he could have done anything as long as it wouldn't conflict with the following tales of Tower, Rogues, Bowl. Clearly Rogues comes after Tower but Bowl and Tower could have happened at anytime before rogues and various points could be merited for one or the other coming first.
I agree that Howard stated he was about 17 and around 15 when he came into the thief city of Zamora and was at venarium and to me that logically means he was probably 14 and 10 months or something at Venarium and 16 going on 17 by tower. the fifteen snows thing may mean he has a summer or early fall birthday as when one counts his first snow prior to age one he could only have seen less than fifteen if he had a summer or early fall birthday (depending on when the first snows of the season are in his country)
I still feel like Tower is first. To me it feels like the earlier tale. As far as how he reacts to the God monsters in each tale, Conan had clearly never seen anything like the Yag. The being was unthreatening however and it communicated with him. this greatly affects how Conan reacted he likely would have defended himself against a hostile being and sought to slay or flee it just the same as in god in the bowl, but he understood it was harmless and was a captive and he was moved to pity. On the other hand the Serpent god in the Bowl was hostile (it had just killed someone) it didn't communicate with Conan and serpents in general are loathed or disliked on an atavistic level by many cultures and consitute one of the three most common phobias worldwide (ophidiphobia). So the fact that he kept trucking after he slayed the unnatural creature perhaps reflects his cultures bias against serpents or a deeper atavistic fear of snakes that all humans are inherent to.

Also Conan's language use in tower is described as rough as if he just learned it. while in Bowl he converses freely with all present suggesting time to learn the language and become familiar with it. Tower in this case seems closer to the grunt and point with sword days. However he could have learned either language (zamoran, or Nemedian) first depending on his travels.

Late typo edit

Edited by grim cimmerian, 13 June 2006 - 07:43 PM.

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#56 Darkstorm Dale

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Posted 15 June 2006 - 04:07 AM

I truly enjoy this discussion on your chronology (an I believe it is a very fine one and only disagree with that one placement)
First I must admit yes I use the Miller letter as the "ten commandments" so to speak as it is the only time that Howard actually addresses the chronology issue and it seems you give it a more subjective interpretation.

I'm not sure that subjective interpretation fits quite right. I understand that the Miller letter is only an answer to a fan's letter. It's not "official answers to everything". Howard's letter practically bends over backwards to avoid being exactly pinned down. Everything is "almost, nearly, about, and around". It seems pretty obvious that if Howard wanted to give exact answers he could have; that he didn't implies that he had a reason not to. So we get Howard's "fuzzy" take on the Conan chronology.

The fact that Conan is robbing people at sword point could have happened anywhere including Hyperborea (you stated they are Hyboreans) I can't remember offhand my Hyborian age that well.
Just simply looking at Howard's map and the implication he made on the order of the stories leads one from Cimmeria to Nordheim, to Hyperboria, to brythunia (mentioned he escaped south) True Howard didn't have mountain ranges on his map, but they are established now so deeply in the Hyborian world that I consider them cannon and any timeline would have to take into account their travel time. From here really he could have done anything as long as it wouldn't conflict with the following tales of Tower, Rogues, Bowl. Clearly Rogues comes after Tower but Bowl and Tower could have happened at anytime before rogues and various points could be merited for one or the other coming first.
I agree that Howard stated he was about 17 and around 15 when he came into the thief city of Zamoraandwas at venarium and to me that logically means he was probably 14 and 10 months or something at Venarium and 16 going on 17 by tower. the fifteen snows thing may mean he has a summer or early fall birthday as when one counts his first snow prior to age one he could only have seen less than fifteen if he had a summer or early fall birthday (depending on when the first snows of the season are in his country)
I still feel like Tower is first. To me it feels like the earlier tale. As far as how he reacts to the God monsters in each tale, Conan had clearly never seen anything like the Yag. The being was unthreatening however and it communicated with him. this greatly affects how Conan reacted he likely would have defended himself against a hostile being and sought to slay or flee it just the same as in god in the bowl, but he understood it was harmless and was a captive and he was moved to pity. On the other hand the Serpent god in the Bowl was hostile (it had just killed someone) it didn't communicate with Conan and serpents in general are loathed or disliked on an atavistic level by many cultures and consitute one of the three most common phobias worldwide (ophidiphobia). So the fact that he kept trucking after he slayed the unnatural creature perhaps reflects his cultures bias against serpents or a deeper atavistic fear of snakes that all humans are inherent to.

Conan robbing people at swordpoint is important because it shows the genesis of how he became a thief. If he, as you say, started in Hyperborea, then Conan lived as a thief for 6 or so months BEFORE entering Zamora, where he was a thief for nearly a year prior to TOWER. Conan in TOWER is actually a pretty fair thief. He tries to discover the watchman's rounds. He tries to remain hidden in the darkness when he enters Yara's garden. He notices someone's movement at one end of the garden and intercepts the guy at swordpoint. He suggests that they take care to cover their tracks by hiding the dead guard. He shows suspicion at Taurus' request that he take one last look around. In fact, I can't think of a single stupid thing that he did in this excursion as a thief.
Compare it with BOWL, where his entry into the museum isn't done in any type of inconspicuous manner, where he chats up the first person he runs into in said museum without a single clue that the guy actually belongs there, and shows that he is truely clueless when he discovers that his partner-in-crime doesn't wish to implicate himself.

A placement of BOWL before Tower indicates that Conan is merely inexperienced. A placement after TOWER shows Conan being incompetent. That makes for a big difference in my mind.

Also Conan's language use in tower is described as rough as if he just learned it. while in Bowl he converses freely with all present suggesting time to learn the language and become familiar with it. Tower in this case seems closer to the grunt and point with sword days. However he could have learned either language (zamoran, or Nemedian) first depending on his travels.

I've just re-read TOWER and I can't seem to find any reference to his language being rough as if he just learned it. All I can find is that he speaks Zamoran with an alien accent. He understands the Kothic kidnapper's Zamoran pretty well, although the kidnapper's sarcasm seems to get lost on Conan. He converses with Taurus extremely well, although I suppose they could be speaking in Nemedian (heh!).
The actuality is that nearly everyone I know that does any kind of research on Conan pretty much comes to an understanding that Conan's mastery of language is just "one of those things" you need to suspend your disbelief about. I've always felt that Conan is one of those lucky guys who is blessed in that regard.

My placement of the GOD IN THE BOWL prior to TOWER OF THE ELEPHANT in the Darkstorm Chronology is based on pretty much two reasons.
The first is the one I mentioned earlier in this post. Conan's actions in BOWL portray a naive, inexperienced Thief. Any placement after TOWER results in Conan behaving in a frankly incompetent manner. Conan may be many things, but he is never incompetent.
The second is Occam's Razor, the idea that the simplest answer that incorporates all of the evidence that I've presented is invariably the right one. A placement prior to TOWER satisfies that requirement.
A placement between TOWER and the HALL OF THE DEAD synopsis doesn't really work all that well because Conan needs to be becoming such a badass thief in Zamora that they send an army out after him; an extended trip to Nemedia would make that difficult.
A placement between HOTD and ROGUES IN THE HOUSE really doesn't fly well because Nestor, Conan's Gunderman partner, would be missing in action.
A placement after ROGUES would be problemental because Howard's letter states that Conan headed back to Cimmeria at that time. I suppose that he could have stopped in Nemedia on the way there, but honestly, at this point time, Conan's actions in BOWL would absolutely reek of incompetence.

I'm done for the most part in explaining why BOWL is where it is in my Chronology. Feel free to believe anything you want; I'm not here to force anyone into believing anything. Everything I've done is for the fun of it. :D

I've seriously enjoyed this discussion, but I'm going to turn my attention to the BLACK COLOSSUS question from a couple of posts back on my next visit.
"Details are all that matters; God dwells there, and you never get to see Him if you don't struggle to get them right." - Stephen Jay Gould

"A man receives only what he is ready to receive. . . .
The phenomenon or fact that cannot in any wise be linked with the rest of what he has observed, he does not observe.
" - Henry D. Thoreau


"There never was an explanation which didn't itself need to be explained" - Charles Fort

"If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you." - Oscar Wilde

#57 korak

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Posted 15 June 2006 - 04:31 AM

darkstorm dale writes- Compare it with BOWL, where his entry into the museum isn't done in any type of inconspicuous manner, where he chats up the first person he runs into in said museum without a single clue that the guy actually belongs there, and shows that he is truely clueless when he discovers that his partner-in-crime doesn't wish to implicate himself.


If Tower came first, then there are obvious reasons for two of these-- he assumed wrongly that his employer was as honorable as Murilo had been, and that the fellow he met was like the prince of thieves that he met in the tower garden. Wrong in both cases because of his previous experiences, not in spite of.

As for his method of entry, it was inconspicuous only if someone saw or heard him, and I do not recall any such thing. There are ways to strike off a lock if necessary without being too conspicuous. Apparently he used such a method. Such a method would have required MORE experience not less.

#58 Darkstorm Dale

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Posted 17 June 2006 - 04:05 PM

As for his method of entry, it was inconspicuous only if someone saw or heard him, and I do not recall any such thing. There are ways to strike off a lock if necessary without being too conspicuous. Apparently he used such a method. Such a method would have required MORE experience not less.

Wow! This is rather specious reasoning in defense of a post-TOWER placement. I assume that you relied on your memory of the story instead of actually looking it up. :unsure:

Conan didn't strike off the trapdoor's lock on the roof of the temple; the lock was on the inside of the door. He hewed through the thick iron bolt that held the door shut by bashing it with his sword. Conan even mentions that he was worried that the noise would awaken somebody (guess he had forgotten about the guard patrolling the perimeter).

I agree that there are probably ways to strike a lock off without being to conspicuous. And that such a method would require more experience as a thief; it would not be something that a novice thief would neccesarily be privy to. However, this has NOTHING to do with the events of THE GOD IN THE BOWL.

Being a successful thief requires that you do everything possible to avoid attracting any type of attention. You are trying to not get caught, afterall. The Conan that appears in TOWER knows this, He hides in the shadow of the wall in Yara's garden and darts across to some bushes for cover. He suggests to Taurus that they hide the body of the dead guard so as not to attract anyone's attention. He has incorporated this notion into his thieving philosophy by the time of TOWER. If BOWL comes after the events of TOWER, then why isn't he still practicing this smart philosophy?

In BOWL, Conan does two things that would give any competent thief pause. First, he breaks into the temple by bashing through the bolt; making a fairly loud racket while someone that he has already identified as a watchman is makings his rounds outside of the building. Second, he walks right up to the same guard inside of the building and begins talking to him because he mistakenly assumes the man to be another thief.

Conan drawing that type of attention to himself really only makes sense if the events of BOWL take place prior to the events of TOWER. He drew attention to himself due to his lack of thieving experience at the time of BOWL. And because he got caught, and especially since he managed to escape, he grew from that experience and incorporated the idea that "attracting attention is a bad thing" into his thieving philosophy, hence the guy we see in TOWER.
A placement of BOWL after TOWER shows a Conan that isn't paying any attention to his own personal safety anymore, hence my comment that a post-TOWER placement displays Conan as being an incompetent thief.

If Tower came first, then there are obvious reasons for two of these-- he assumed wrongly that his employer was as honorable as Murilo had been, and that the fellow he met was like the prince of thieves that he met in the tower garden. Wrong in both cases because of his previous experiences, not in spite of.


I don't think that you actually thought this through enough.

The problem Conan has with Aztrias Petanius is one of betraying Conan's trust. Conan thought that he would be a "stand-up" guy and he wasn't. Trust is one of those things that a naive person freely gives everyone they meet until that trust is broken and they are forced to face the hard truth that you really can't automatically trust people. From that point on, trust can only be earned.

So let's follow this line of reasoning and see where it goes. Your example covers Conan's entire thieving period up past ROGUES IN THE HOUSE. This is a period of at least 4 years where Conan spent learning the secrets of successful thieving, and hanging with other thieves and the basic dregs of society (such as murderers, kidnappers, prostitutes, etc). Yet your theory would have us believe that Conan, in all that time, never learned that "There is no honor among thieves". Wow!

Let's look at the stories:

In TOWER OF THE ELEPHANT, Conan describes the people of Zamora, from what he had seen, as being very evil. Isn't much basis for trust there, plus it sort of implies that Conan has already experienced his epiphany that you can't trust them blindly.
Taurus of Nemedia. While I think that Conan respected Taurus; he really didn't trust him. Howard states that when Conan is asked to check their escape route one last time, that "a faint suspicion of his companion touched his wary soul". Suspicion is the antithesis of trust, plus notice Conan is wary of Taurus; in context this implies that he has been burned before.

In ROGUES IN THE HOUSE, the priest of Anu, Conan's fence, sells information to the police that leads to the arrest and death of Conan's partner, although Conan escapes the police. This in itself should be enough to disabuse anyone of the notion that Conan has never learned that "There is no honor among thieves".
Also Conan's prostitute girlfriend sells him to the cops, which would kill any trust he had for anyone, since she is supposed to be one of his "friends".
Murillo. While it's unclear whether Conan actually trusted Murillo or felt he was honorable (your word), it seems pretty clear that if such trust existed, it came about because Murillo earned it by upholding his end of his bargain with the Cimmerian.

The gist of it is that in order for your theory to hold water, Conan has to basically forget all of the events over the past 4 years that would have made him wary of placing his trust in Aztrias Petanius.

I don't buy it; the point you are attempting to make doesn't align to common sense and appears overly contrived.

Pre- TOWER, I can understand Conan blindly trusting Aztrias Petanius and his reaction to being betrayed; it is due to naivity and inexperience with civilized behavior. He still thinks that everyone adheres to the honor system that he is invested in. Conan is being a tool because he doesn't know any better.

Post-TOWER, (and especially post-ROGUES) events conspire to suggest that if Conan blindly puts his faith in Aztrias Petanius being a "stand-up guy" then he is being an idiotic tool, since he didn't learn from his prior experiences. I don't believe that for a second.

Edited by Darkstorm Dale, 17 June 2006 - 04:33 PM.

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#59 korak

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Posted 17 June 2006 - 08:50 PM

I don't deny that you make some good points, but the fact is that Conan is human. And I don't consider it me who has to argue that God comes after Tower-- because of the inexorable logic of GC's post # 40, it is you who are on the spot to prove it comes before. You have provided circumstantial evidence, but no smoking gun internal evidence. The fact is that a young man often makes mistakes, reverts to previous levels of maturity, etc. Conan may have been drunk in God. The fact is that Conan should not have been that careless wether before or after, and so it makes it seem that it was actually Howard who was careless in writing the tale, thus the rejection slip from Weird Tales. I love God in the Bowl, but it does have some apparent careless flaws. You may feel otherwise, that Conan should have been incompetent age 17, but then, you also said that Conan is never incompetent. And it does not require experience to avoid the obvious pitfalls that he commits in God, just common sense. Thus my suggestion that he was drunk.

BTW, my reference to Murilo was erroneous, because as you point out that came from Rogues not Tower.

#60 korak

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Posted 17 June 2006 - 10:20 PM

darkstorm Dale writes- In BOWL, Conan does two things that would give any competent thief pause. First, he breaks into the temple by bashing through the bolt; making a fairly loud racket while someone that he has already identified as a watchman is makings his rounds outside of the building. Second, he walks right up to the same guard inside of the building and begins talking to him because he mistakenly assumes the man to be another thief.


Bashing is not necessarily the correct descriptive-- Howard uses the word HEW. In other words, Conan does not knock the door apart, he slices right through the bolt, which is a feat that creates awe in the mind of the prefect. Conan claims that was the only way to get in, and presumably he was so instructed by his client. Do you suggest there was some other way in? The noise does NOT attract the attention of the guard, so that argument is a moot point; and the fact that he first avoids the guard and then later mistakes him for a thief is apparently just blatant stupidity no matter how you look at it. It does not take experience to keep from forgetting that a guard you just were spying on is not a fellow thief.