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Queen Of The Black Coast: Conan Story of the Month


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#1 Kortoso

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Posted 02 February 2007 - 10:28 PM

QotBC is the favorite story for many readers - for many reasons, ranging from swashbuckling combat to steamy jungle romance!

The usual rules apply. We will be discussing the story in detail in this thread, so if you haven't read it yet and don't want major details revealed to you before you read the story, I have one bit of advice for you: read the story.

Of course, if you're already read the story, this is a great chance to go back and discover details that you hadn't seen before.

And no biting, no eye-gouging, no kicking, standard disclaimers apply, and when the bell rings, come out swinging! :D

#2 Rusty Burke

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Posted 02 February 2007 - 10:57 PM

This is one of the stories I use when I'm talking about how REH was a master at plunging the reader right into the story from the first sentence. In the first chapter of this story, it's like you get nabbed by the collar and dragged along with ol' Conan onto the deck of the Argus, and by the time you can draw breath, well, you're already along for the ride so you might as well go with it.

I love Conan's comeback to Tito: "But we're bound for the coasts of Cush!" "Then I'm for Cush! Push off, I tell you!" (Don't bother me with details, man -- floor it! Can't you hear the sirens?)

And this is, of course, the favorite, or at least one of the favorites, of the lawyers in our ranks. "So then, seeing they were all mad, I drew my sword and cleft the judge's skull..." That's one of the tricks they don't teach in law school.

Rusty

#3 deuce

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Posted 03 February 2007 - 04:08 AM

Here are my annotations for "Queen of the Black Coast" (The Coming of Conan, Del Rey). I'll also comment on Mark Schultz's beautiful, but often misleading, illustrations.
Schultz's illo: Every ship pictured in Messantia's harbor appears to be a Phoenician-style galley. This doesn't square with the description of the Argus. Shemites don't appear to be major maritime players. Why so many "Shemite" galleys? Mark's rendition of Messantia looks to be based on classical Athens or maybe Naples. This doesn't jibe at all with the medieval Italian slant that REH provides in "Queen" and "Dragon". (p.121)

The Song of Belit: REH places four-line epigrams at the head of each chapter, all under this title. This "Song" is a little confusing, since the person who seems to be delivering the lines seems to switch from Belit, then Conan and back. In this first example, the versifier appears to be Belit. (p.121)

Messantian guardsmen: apparently, there are two types. There appears to be a mounted contingent (probably assigned to high officials) and squads of crossbow-slinging foot. Let it be noted that while in classical Greece and Rome crossbow-packing police were unknown, medieval Genoa and Venice exported arbalesters as mercenaries. (p.122)

Conan's gear:"a black scale-mail hauberk","a blue-steel helmet". (p.122)
Tito: Argossean captain of the Argus. Stocky and black-bearded, he is a licensed master-shipman of the ports of Argos. "Tito" is as medieval Italian a name as they come. (122p.)

Cargo: Tito says he trades "sugar" to the "black kings" (amongst other things). In return, he receives "ivory, copra, copper ore, slaves and pearls". Wouldn't there be more sugar cane in Kush than in Argos? Do the Argosseans process the raw cane and then sell it back to the Ku$hites? Now, ivory and pearls I can see. However, the Argus is a fairly small galley. Where is Titus going to put slaves? I would think copper ore would be a bulky, low-profit item. Copra (dried coconut "meat") is fairly bulky, but there was a brisk international trade in it during the 1800s. (p.122)

Argos' king: has some sort of company of "guards", perhaps similar to the Musketeers or Swiss Guards. Conan's friend killed a captain of the royal guard. (p.123)
Conan's code:"he was a friend of mine, I could not betray him." (p.123)

"cleft": it's interesting that Howard uses this word instead of "cleaved". In other instances, REH uses "shined", "dived" and "leaped" instead of "shone", "dove" and "leapt". (p.123)

"high constable": Messantia has one. Conan stole his stallion. Possibly they were the constable's mounted guardsmen who pursued Conan. (p.123)

Ale: apparently the beverage Tito had on board. I would have thought wine... (p.123)

the Argus: Howard's description of this ship matches that of high medieval Italian trade-galleys better than anything else. From the number of oars, I'd say that it measured about 40' from stem to stern. (p.123)

Silk: this is part of Tito's cargo. It is also used for the sail and canopies. This is surprising. For most of history, silk has been expensive in the West. The "silk trade-deficit" in late Imperial Rome has been blamed for financially weakening the whole Empire. Perhaps one of the more western countries of the Hyborian Age discovered how to produce silk? (p.123)

Shem: possessed "long rolling meadowlands" and black-bearded horsemen. Evidently,"there was scant profit in trade with the sons of Shem". (p.124)

the Styx: apparently only has one outlet into the Western Ocean. It empties into a "broad bay" of "blue waters", commanded by the black walls of Khemi. This "dreamy glass-floored bay" obviously doesn't have much of a siltage problem. "Ships did not put unasked into this port". (p.124)
Stygian sorcerors: sacrificed on "blood-stained altars where naked women screamed". (p.124)
Set:"the Old Serpent, arch-demon of the Hyborians". (p.124)
Whores of Khemi: these brazen tarts, wearing "great red blossoms in their hair", used serpent-prowed gondolas to approach passing ships. (p.124)

Argossean sailors: few of these widely-travelled sea-dogs from one of the great cosmopolitan ports had ever seen a Cimmerian, testifying to the rarity of Cimmerian expatriates. Said sailors were "short and stockily built". (p.124)

Conan:"was a valiant trencherman". (p.124) In other words, he could strap on the feed-bag. Another example of Howard's use of archaisms.
Conan's gear (redux): his "helmet was such as was worn by the...Aesir". Now, this was described earlier as a "blue-steel helmet". I may be wrong, but the Nordheimr, as described by REH, don't seem capable of producing "blue-steel" helmets (they live in horse-hide tents!). Was there some sort of Nemedian-Nordheimr arms trade, just as there was a Frankish-Viking arms trade in the Middle Ages? His "black scale-mail" is revealed to be Kothian work. Mysteriously, Conan now has sleeves and leggings of Nemedian "ring-mail". Conan's broadsword is Aquilonian blue-steel. His "scarlet cloak could have been spun nowhere but Ophir". (p.124)

the Tigress: "a slender serpentine galley" with forty oars to a side . It had a "raised deck that ran from stem to stern" and a "low rail". A long crimson pennon floated from the masthead. (p.125) Belit's ship sounds a lot more like a Phoenician galley. The "dragon-prow" from "Citadel" is nowhere mentioned.

Corsair gear: spears and "oval shields". (p.125)
Conan: the bow is not his "idea of a manly weapon". He learned archery "among the Hyrkanians". (p.125) Definitely doesn't sound like there were many archers in Cimmeria, no matter what that Kern-guy wrote. Can anybody imagine Conan not learning a Cimmerian weapon of war while he was growing up?

Belit's corsairs:"were painted and plumed, and mostly naked". They bore "spotted shields" and had "glossy ebon hides". (p.126)
the Tigress: had a "steel-beaked prow". (p.126)
Belit:had "white ivory limbs". (p.127) Not "golden", not "dusky". Just like Thalis and Akivasha. Are we to suppose that Belit is descended from "pre-human" "Elder Race" "Stygians" as well? Somehow, I don't think so. Belit also says she had ranged from Zingara "to the fires of the ultimate south". Is this Mount Erebus?
N'Yaga:"the old shaman" of the Tigress. (p.128)

Askalon: the Shemitish city where Belit's "fathers were kings". (p.128) REH doubtless derived the name from the great Philistine city of Ashkelon which later became a strategic site during the Crusades.
Schultz's illo (p.129): Belit looks smokin'. I think Howard might have envisioned her a little more top-heavy. The Tigress looks cool. Mark seems to have used the Masai as a model for the corsairs. Mark's Conan is a bit stolid and underwhelming. Overall, the composition is well-done and the sky in the background is quite dramatic. I'd like to see this in color.

I'm tuckered out. Cheers. :)

Edited by deuce, 16 December 2008 - 12:34 AM.

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#4 Rusty Burke

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Posted 03 February 2007 - 04:24 AM

Here are my annotations for "Queen of the Black Coast" (The Coming of Conan, Del Rey). I'll also comment on Dave Schultz's beautiful, but often misleading, illustrations.


That's Mark Schultz. Otherwise, interesting and cogent comments.

Rusty

#5 Buxom Sorceress

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Posted 03 February 2007 - 04:29 AM

QUEEN OF THE BLACK COAST by REH.
[ Weird Tales may 1934. review of del rey 2003 ]

After slaying a mad judge in an unfair court Conan flees out to sea with a trading galley...into a savage pirate adventure which will tear at and shock even his tough strong heart.
He strides confidently through this adventure clad in his bull-horned helm, mail shirt and flowing scarlet cloak.

This is another classic SUPERB sword & sorcery short story from Howard the master. B)
its 29 lively pages are packed with: fighting action; piracy; titilation; dark jungle adventure; epic city ruins; supernatural monsters and sorcery; and grim horror excitement.
And we learn a lot more about Conan: his views about the gods; and living his life to the full [page 133, great quotes]; and his archery skills [see more below].

Belit, the beautiful strangely goddess-like pirate leader and enchantress of all men is used to great effect by Howard. and by the end he has squeezed every dramatic drop of bloody excitement out of her. But her blazing legend will never burn out: she is a very memorable character as Conan's closest lover and co-reaver.

Rating = 10 /10. grim dark sword & sorcery at its very BEST ! B)
--
~~ More details, and things to ponder ~~

Conan the reluctant Archer:
REH made Conan a more interesting character with his Cimmerian 'code of honour'. after Conan learned bowmanship from the Hyrkanians [p125] he seems to prefer to only use it as a last resort. this is clearly shown here in 'queen of the black coast'.
but, as with everything he does, Conan has quickly learned to be an expert archer. his archery shooting from the top of the pyramid at the end is astounding!
[ he is attacked by 20 'were-hyena-things' in the moonlight. Conan shoots down over half of them as they charge up to him. he never misses!
it's an archery feat that even Robin Hood and Legolas the elf would be proud of! ]

BELIT: the very sexy buxom 'pirate-queen'. 'the wildest she-devil unhanged.'
Belit was a real vicious and manipulating bitch. she lets Conan slaughter 20 or more of her loyal crew just so she can judge his prowess and value to her schemes. [ but you can't blame any man for deciding to cosy-up to a sexy vixen like Belit. it's a fine alternative to being speared, and then hacked into sharkfood by her numerous crew.]
she continues to use her primitive black crew like fodder: later in story she coldly and deliberately sacrifices more of her men to get past the 'trap' to get at the treasure.

She was like a goddess to her obedient black pirate crew [p128]. why?
her crew seem in awe of her? why?
if she were a beautiful young sorceress/witch with some magic powers?: then that would explain her total control over many big rough tough men.

You could say she had powers to enchant men with her mating dance.
and, she told Conan there was life beyond death [p133-4], and that her SPIRIT would come back to aid him!
and when Conan was in dire need, she did just that: her spirit made the ape-thing recoil in fear, giving Conan the vital extra seconds he needed!

Belit definately had some secret supernatural powers.
but hanging her with her chosen necklace of the treasure she had lusted for was a clever grim irony by REH.
----
there are many great things in this Conan tale, so i look forward to more being discussed by all you other great Howard fans, please?
so now take the sweep and steer us through the dark 'Zarkheba river' of your mind... :)

AVATARS GALORE
HYBORIAN Limericks + Rhymes
Lots of FUN and serious new RHYMING Hyborian/Fantasy poetry.

"So I took to a life of adventure and daring
leaving most warriors drooling and staring.
After I danced with my exotic flesh baring
I would vanish into the new Sunrise glaring."

#6 deuce

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Posted 03 February 2007 - 04:33 AM


Here are my annotations for "Queen of the Black Coast" (The Coming of Conan, Del Rey). I'll also comment on Dave Schultz's beautiful, but often misleading, illustrations.


That's Mark Schultz. Otherwise, interesting and cogent comments.

Rusty



That's a great big DOH! from me. :rolleyes: Thanks Rusty! I was going to edit that post anyway...

Seriously though, I hope nobody thinks that I don't respect/admire MARK's work, because I definitely do. I got a chance to chat with him at Howard Days and he is an extremely nice guy (check 'im out on the Frazetta Painting With Fire dvd).

Edited by Kortoso, 03 February 2007 - 08:13 PM.

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#7 Speelie

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Posted 03 February 2007 - 06:13 AM

I have no criticism of the story, it is a fine story. However, it isn't really what I look for in REH. I like the more grim, hardbitten stories like his Crusader tales. And I like Conan best in a military context, such as in The Hour of the Dragon, or in The Scarlet Citadel.

Which brings me to my contribution to this thread. I like watching the workings of REH's mind. In The Scarlet Citadel, we learn that Conan was once Amra The Lion. And so the next tale is Queen of the Black Coast, where we get to see Conan in action as Amra. And the germ of Black Colossus is present. Have you ever wondered about that title, "Black Colossus?" What the heck does it have to do with the events it recounts? Well, on page 142 of the Del Rey The Coming of Conan, you can read at the start of Chapter IV of Queen of the Black Coast: "The jungle was a black colossus that locked the ruin-littered glade in ebon arms." REH had just found the title for his next Conan story!

#8 texas pict

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Posted 03 February 2007 - 04:52 PM

I enjoy this story, it shows Conan as more than a mindless barbarian. He is almost a barbarian philosopher. Conan probably wouldn't have had these conversations, unless in an ungaurded moment with his true love.

"Some gods are stong to harm, others, to aid; at least so say their priests. Mitra of the Hyborians must be a strong god, because his people have builded their cities over the world. But even the Hyborians fear Set. And Bel, god of theives, is a good god. When I was a theif in Zamora I learned of him."

"I have known many gods. He who denies them is as blind as he who trusts them too deeply. I seek not beyond death. It may be the blackness averred by the Nemedian skeptics, or Crom's realm of ice and cloud, or the snowy plains and vaulted halls of the Nordheimer's Valhalla. I know not, nor do I care."

"Let teachers and priests and philosophers brood over questions of reality and illusions. I know this: if life is an illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me, I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content."

I doubt he had these conversations over a tankard, with the other mecenaries. These were thoughts he developed, after apperently listening to philosophers discussing them. Hard to picture Conan sitting around with this crowd, but obviously he did. He may have been self educated, but he learned more than just martial skills.

Not the mindless barbarian, he's often made out to be. The ground work for his rise to military commander, chieftan, and king is found in this learning. He may not have understood civilization, but he set out to learn its philosophies. Understanding your adversaries, is often the key to victory. He learned their thoughts, and their languages, to use against them.

I'm sure he took full advantage of being considered a brainless barbarian. I doubt many people were aware, these thought were in his head. I wish there were more glimpses of "picking up" these tidbits about the civilized world. He obviously studied the culture where ever he went ("Beyond the Black River": "Later I saw a black witch-finder of Kush scratch it in the sand of a nameless river. He told me part of its meaning...").

Edited by texas pict, 03 February 2007 - 05:15 PM.


#9 deuce

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Posted 03 February 2007 - 05:10 PM

Excellent post, Texas Pict. I plan on going over some of the same points in my next "annotations" post. I seem to recall Conan mentioning "Corinthian philosophers" in one of the yarns, also. I think Howard only alludes to Conan's time in "philosophy school" in order to maintain that famous "break-neck pace". Evidently, REH "learned his lesson" with the Kull yarns (which didn't sell, mostly). A bit of a loss, for some of us.

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#10 Kortoso

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Posted 03 February 2007 - 08:20 PM

Notice the text that Texas Pict quoted, how language is used. In at least two examples, civilized philosophy is outlined in big words and complete sentences; Conan refutes them with short words and sentence fragments. Interesting.

"I have known many gods. He who denies them is as blind as he who trusts them too deeply. I seek not beyond death. It may be the blackness averred by the Nemedian skeptics, or Crom's realm of ice and cloud, or the snowy plains and vaulted halls of the Nordheimer's Valhalla. I know not, nor do I care."

"Let teachers and priests and philosophers brood over questions of reality and illusions. I know this: if life is an illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me, I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content."



#11 deuce

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Posted 03 February 2007 - 10:59 PM

"QotBC Annotations II": comments on the story and Schultz's illustrations, from the Del Rey tpb The Coming of Conan...


Schultz's illo: once again, Mark renders Belit with appropriate gorgeousness. (p.131)
The Song of Belit: this time, the "versifier" or "POV" seems to be Conan. (p.131)

Stygians:"(S)urvivors of butchered Stygian ships named Belit with curse". (p.131) How did they survive the "butchery"? Perhaps they managed to put into shore and flee, while their compatriots died. "Typical Stygian trick". :lol: Roy Thomas (and Poul Anderson, RIP) speculated that Stygians killed Belit's father.
"Stygian princes": remembered Conan "long and long, and their memory was a bitter tree which bore crimson fruit in the years to come". (p.131) Does this refer to Conan's corsair years or later? I tend to think later. Either way, it points to untold Conan adventures.

Conan:"generally agreed to her (Belit's) plans. Hers was the mind that directed her raids, his the arm that carried out her ideas". (p.132) As Buxie noted, Belit was one smart, in-control woman.
the Tigress: at the mouth of the Zarkheba "some eighty spearmen remained, scarcely enough to work the long galley". (p.132)
"the island kingdoms": where Belit recruited her corsairs were a "long cruise southward". (p.132)
"strange reptiles": they lie "coiled" on sandbars in the Zarkheba, but if they're serpents, why didn't REH say so? What makes them "strange"? (p.132)

apes: Belit says "that the souls of evil men were imprisoned in these man-like animals as punishment for past crimes". Is this a Shemitish belief or a "Ku$hite" one? I think the latter. Conan saw an ape "in a gold-barred cage in an Hyrkanian city". (p.132) This is interesting. If the bars were actual pure gold (ie, not gilded) then this would have to be a small, weak ape. Was it actually an ape and not a monkey? Where did Conan draw the ape/monkey line? According to the "Darkstorm Chronology", Conan had already fought the Vilayet ape and Thak. Also, on page 141, it's strongly implied that Conan has seen gorillas. He would surely have seen monkeys on the Black Coast. Could the "Hyrkanian ape" have been an "orang pendek" (3'-4') from Kosala?

Corsairs: sported plumed "head-pieces" and bore begemmed swords and harness. (p.132)
Belit: wore jewels in her "clustered black locks".(p.132)

Conan:"I would not tread on their (the gods') shadow". (p.133)
Hyborians: according to Conan,"have builded their cities over the world". (p.133) By this time Conan had, at minimum, travelled from western Cimmeria to Nordheim to Hyrkania to the Black Coast. A vast area. He knew that "the world" wasn't just Aquilonia, Nemedia, Koth etc... Where are these other "cities"? I think he had to be talking about Iranistan (which was probably a Mitra-worshipping kingdom, IMO).

Belit: says to Conan,"What of your own gods? I have never heard you call on them." (p.133) :blink: What's going on here? Conan never swore by Crom (or the rest of his dark brood) for two to three years?
Crom:"dwells on a great mountain... Little he cares if men live or die. Better to be silent...he will send you dooms, not fortune! (...) There is no hope here or hereafter in the cult of my people... souls enter a gray misty realm of clouds and icy winds, to wander cheerlessly through eternity". (p.133) Fun stuff; even Belit shuddered. That "Crom's mountain" quote is the only "mountain" (as opposed to "hills") I've ever found that Howard associated with Cimmeria in any of his yarns (there is one mention of them in "The Hyborian Age"). Evidently, Conan was explaining to Belit why he'd never called on Crom in her hearing. He went back to swearing by Crom, of course. Considering what happened to Belit, maybe Conan figured Crom would send "dooms" no matter what.
The Gods: Conan says,"He who denies them is as blind as he who trusts them too deeply". (p.133) Some posters have tried to claim that no gods really "exist" in Conan's world. It's evident that Conan believes they (at least some of them) are real. Events in "Colossus" and "Phoenix" would seem to bear out that belief.

Nemedian skeptics: aver that there is simply "blackness" beyond death. (p.133) This is actually a very illuminating passage in regards to Howard's conception of Nemedia. Is REH trying to draw a parallel between Nemedia and Athenian Greece? Not likely, IMO. Corinthia fits the bill more closely (though not that close). However, Germany has been famous for philosophers for 300 years. The first great German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, was called by many a skeptic (though it can be argued otherwise). His work inspired generations of Deutsche philosophers. What about the "blackness beyond death"? Kant, a Christian, didn't hold this view. However, Nietzsche, admittedly influenced by Kant, did. He asserted that belief in the afterlife weakened a man. This is the man who stated,"God is dead". Nietzsche has also been placed in the "skeptic school". We know that Howard was an armchair student of philosophy. It would seem that he had a "German" conception of Nemedia, at least in some respects.

Valhalla: the Nordheimr afterlife, a place of "snowy plains and vaulted halls". Conan says he doesn't know if it's real, nor does he care. (p.133) Since the Nordheimr appear to live in horse-hide tents, are the "vaulted halls" like giant, hide circus tents? This reminds me of the Norse legend where Thor and Loki wander into Jotunheim and find a "hall". After stumbling around in it for awhile, they finally figure out it's a frost-giant's glove. :P
Conan: likes "red meat and stinging wine". (p.133)

Shemite gods:"Ishtar and Ashtoreth and Derketo and Adonis". (p.133) The first three are ancient Middle Eastern goddesses. It's believed that they were originally the same goddess, but then diverged into their own distinct godhoods. Of course, this is the Hyborian Age. Therefore we "know" that Ishtar is an immortal Lemurian princess imprisoned in far Khemu, whose worship probably spread from Khitai, somehow. Ashtoreth? Probably an "Ishtar-like" goddess, but who knows? Derketo is interesting. She is worshipped in Stygia. She is worshipped by Stygian royalty. She is also worshipped in the Black Kingdoms from Kush to Zembabwei. I just don't see Stygians "importing/converting to" a Shemitish goddess. I don't think that the Stygians ever "took up" a new deity after becoming Set-worshippers. However, we do know that there are other gods in Stygia. IMO, these "Old Gods" are the ones the Stygians brought with them into Stygia. The Black Kingdoms have had a far longer, stronger contact with Stygia than with the sons of Shem. The Stygians also controlled Shem for thousands of years. It would seem that Stygia is the homeland from which Derketo-worship spread. Finally,
Adonis: another form of Tammuz, the Canaanite fertility god. Tammuz is featured in the REH yarn, Two Against Tyre.
Bel: We find that he "too, is Shemitish, for he was born in ancient Shumir, long, long ago, and went forth laughing, with curled beard and impish wise eyes, to steal the gems of the kings of old times". (p.133)

Belit: speaks of the "the purple sails on the crystal seas of paradise". (p.134) This reminded me strongly of AE Merritt's The Ship of Ishtar from 1924, which REH likely read. Belit also mentions "the molten flames of hell". (p.134) It seems nearly all Hyborian Age cultures had a fairly consistent concept of "hell". Conan mentions it straight outta Cimmeria in "Daughter". This is notable since the notion of a fiery "hell" complete with "devils" is relatively recent. Egypt, Sumer, Greece, none of them had this concept. Zarathustra seems to have been the innovator in this area.

"gigantic serpent":"arching over the rail...it reared its form high above the deck". (p.134) This sounds almost as big as, if not bigger than, Satha, who at 80' long was the biggest snake Conan ever encountered. Maybe Conan just didn't get a good look at "Ol' Zarkheba". :D

"the Shemite soul":"finds a bright drunkenness in riches and material splendor". (p.136)
Shushan: has an "emperor", evidently quite rich. (p.136) Is Shushan within the lands of Shem? Sushan was the winter capitol of the Persian emperors. Howard never mentions any sort of "empire" within the Shemitish lands elsewhere in the Conan saga. Is Shushan the capitol of the emperors of Iranistan? (postscript: Dale Rippke has pointed out that this isn't possible. I'll address it in the "Colossus" review)
N'Gora: a corsair sub-chief. (p.137)

black lotus: appeared as "a cluster of green, curiously leafed stalks" sporting "great black blossoms". Its "juice was death" and its "scent brought dream-haunted slumber". (p.137) Its pollen (or "scent") seems to be very fast-acting. It seems to aid the spread of the pollen through "nastic motion" (like a flytrap or mimosa).
Conan: "recognized" the black lotus. (p.137) Where had he seen it? Another "lost" adventure?


Enough, fer now. "Queen" is a juicy story. Chapter III later.

Edited by deuce, 16 December 2008 - 12:53 AM.

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#12 Kane

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 03:36 AM

Deuce,

Another excellent post! You've given me several things to think about. Both in reguard to the previous post and your earlier one.
Thank you.
"I vanquished Law once, I'll conquer yet again--
And force upon Mankind the Freedom he fears--
And dead gods I will again defy?"

#13 Buxom Sorceress

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 12:58 PM

.."Stygian princes": remembered Conan "long and long, and their memory was a bitter tree which bore crimson fruit in the years to come". (p.131) Does this refer to Conan's corsair years or later? I tend to think later. Either way, it points to untold Conan adventures...

yeah, i put that in my own notes about 12 months ago. looks like a ripe opportunity to write more adventures of Amra and Belit before they were doomed to sail up the Zarkheba river.

[ then i spent over 8 months trying to pluck up the courage to write a worthy new short tale.
writing seriously about such revered Howard characters is not something i take lightly or easily. at times it seems too hard and too daunting.
but my new piracy tale is nearly complete. i will share it with you all in future months.]
--
TO ALL: thanks for all your lists, notes, ratings, comments and interesting speculation about QOTBCoast. more please? :)

#14 Guest_Tu for Kull_*

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 05:05 PM

Greetings!
As Rusty said,.....................floor it!

'In an instant he was the center of a hurricane of stabbing spears and lashing clubs.But he moved in a blinding blur of steel.Spears bent on his armor or swished empty air,and his sword sang its death-song.The fighting maddness of his race was upon him,and with a red mist of unreasoning fury wavering before his blazing eyes,he cleft skulls,smashed breasts,severed limbs,ripped out entrails,and littered the deck like a shambles with a ghastly harvest of brains and blood.'

Yeah baby! :P

Tu

#15 Kortoso

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 07:02 PM

..the Tigress: at the mouth of the Zarkheba "some eighty spearmen remained, scarcely enough to work the long galley". (p.132) ...

Given forty oars, this suggests that the oarsmen worked in shifts.

Where do we see that the Nordheimers of Conan's era lived in horsehide tents? I thought that this was an earlier stage of development.

#16 deuce

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 12:41 AM

..the Tigress: at the mouth of the Zarkheba "some eighty spearmen remained, scarcely enough to work the long galley". (p.132) ...

Given forty oars, this suggests that the oarsmen worked in shifts.

Where do we see that the Nordheimers of Conan's era lived in horsehide tents? I thought that this was an earlier stage of development.



Good question, Kortoso. Pretty much all the James Allison "Aesir" yarns mention it (except, maybe, "Marchers"). We know the Allison tales are definitely in the Hyborian Age "universe" because REH said so in a letter to CAS (CoC,p.443). The yarn REH referred to, "The Garden of Fear", has Hunwulf the Aesir explicitly mention the "horse-hide tents" of his people. The tale is actually "post-Hyborian", occurring after the fall of the Hyborian civilization. Such is not the case with the Allison fragment,"Genseric's Fifth-Born Son". Here are some pertinent passages:

Long, long ago an infant son was born to Gudrun of the Shining Locks, the wife of Genseric the Sworder, in their horse-hide lodge on the frozen snows of Vanaheim.

There was frost upon his sword-hilt, and the icy air bit through his furs and the mail beneath.

...old Bragi came to Genseric's tent, with his grey beard and his haunted eyes and the strangeness in his soul that an ancient sword-cut upon his head had made his.

Genseric is a swordsman who wears mail (probably brass scale armor, actually). Old Bragi got clipped with a sword. Still, they live in horse-hide tents. "Daughter" was too short and focused on Conan's pursuit of Atali to provide much anthropological info on the Nordheimr. The Allison yarns fill that gap. :)


BTW, Kortoso, the Tigress had forty oars to a side. Belit was pushin' her crew hard.

Post-postscript: I've been doing some more ruminating on the topic, Kortoso. So as not to totally derail this one, I'm going to slide my comments over to the "FGD" thread. :)

Edited by deuce, 06 February 2007 - 04:09 PM.

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#17 Mike_The_Barbarian

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Posted 17 February 2007 - 12:03 AM

I recently read this story, so I thought I'd add my own view of it.

In this story Conan's emotions/feelings confuse me slightly. At first he joins the trading ship, and seems very loyal to them, but with in minutes he's joined The Queen of the Black Coast. It doesn't really mention he feels and reasons for why he changes sides so readily.

A few reasons could be that he likes Belit, he sees no point in fighting and dying aginst them when all he was fighting for was lost. There could be more, but this feeling of not really accounting for Conan's feelings really stuck out in this story. I mean, it accounts for rage and madness, but not the nicer feelings. I noticed that it does not state anywhere of Conan's feelings towards Belit.
I suppose Conan's feelings are 'shown' by the result of the ending as apposed to a monolog of sorts.

At one point Conan is perched on the stepps waiting the 'monster', and I found this a very, very good use of imagery. All of us have been sat waiting at one point or another, watching a blank space waiting for something to show up with growing agitation.

It's a very good ending to quite a good story and there's a bunch of good quotes that could be taken from this story.
They are the weak and cowardly who, when the enemy is crashing through the front door, will cower in the back room, counting on better men than themselves to make and keep them free.

Obsessed is just a word the lazy use to describe the dedicated!

Pain is weakness leaving the body

#18 PainBrush

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Posted 17 February 2007 - 06:16 AM

There's one or 2 other Conan stories that other people say are the 'worst' of the Conan stories , like 'Vale' etc. , in my opinion ( & I know fully well I'm in a minority , hell maybe even alone in this opinion ) - this story is one of the worst of the Conans to me , though I love that whole "judge was mad so I split his noggin " speach at the beginning . He was however writing for a pulp market , so one or two clunkers or more prurient tales with less depth are forgiveable considering how good all the rest are .

After everyone else from the boat is dead , Conan saying 'what the heck ' & joining up with the pirates doesn't bother me half as bad as the way Howard had Belit get all hot & bothered & starts singing & giving Conan a lap-dance over the still-warm blood of her fallen comrades . That part of the story seems like the pirates of Penzance to me :P haha , a cheesy pirate musical . Or 'YellowBeard" with Cheech & Chong .& One would assume a tiny little woman all by her lonely self who can become the leader of & reign in a group of fierce foreign pirates has to be one tough cookie - to not just be some dishrag cabin-girl . So why is she so 'girly' & tossing herself at Conans feet just because he hacked to death a large portion of her friends & crew ?!?!? Okay , maybe Howard wanted to imply she was lonely , 'really' lonely because she's not romantically attached to anyone on her crew ? & How could you write about 'things piratical' convincingly - if you ignored something as obvious as how P.O.'ed her surviving crew members would be at her for such a thing ?! -You could think on that all logically , & a hundred more issues become quickly very apparent .

Also later in the story she stops Conan in his tracks & let's her other fellow pirates she's fought & bled beside for who knows how long - walk instead right into a trap & die so she could get the treasure , that's pretty rotten too . She could have just cautioned 'everyone' , that she knew there was a booby-trap . It really wouldn't have added but a paragraph more to the tale , so what was Howard thinking when he created this vile woman ?? Not to mention there was also a serious danger & threat in the area too , that extra men would no doubt be handy for . All around , her fierce passion for Conan notwithstanding - I'd think he would normally tell such a woman to take a long walk on a short plank ! - " Tata , see ya later 'tater , don't let the gate hit ya where my dog bit ya ! " This Conan of Howards in this story - seems a little different than his 'regular' Conan to me , does anyone else get a similar impression with this story ?

I'd have been really surprised if Howard had Conan get all mushy towards her in return . I'd love to speak for Conan , but just speaking for myself & why those parts of this story irk me , I couldn't even respect a hosebag strumpet like that , much less fall in love with her . She could have all the other lousy behaviour & attitudes in the world - as long as she's trustable ! Sexy behaviour is okay , wicked behaviour -it's okay in a story , hell wicked women can be sexy too , a powerful woman in charge is sexy , but a treacherous untrustworthy woman ? nnooooooooooooooooooooooooooo . So she declared some big fierce love for Conan - there was no prior behaviour whatsoever to make him believe a word of that , maybe coming back from the dead to help him was supposed to redeem her to us the readers ?.! who knows . To me the story built nothing up to support any deep emotion anywhere by anyone like what's supposed to be assumed here . This story just feels too weird & 'forced' as a Conan yarn to me . ( & I don't mean 'cool' weird , but 'wrong' weird )

I don't think you could stretch credibility to say " well Conan was a dastardly bastardly rogue at times , so being such a piratical guy he'd really like a rascally woman like Belitch " . Conans 'moral ambiguity' right on the table - he still did have that 'rough code' of honor - it's got wavy-hazy outlines , but we all know what & what-not he would do or not ever do . It's reasonable to assume his love-interests & preffered qualities in his women wouldn't exceed the same . He wouldn't dupe friends or comrades into dying for his monetary gain , especially when all that was warranted was a little caution instead . & anyone playing kissy-face & singing a love-song to somebody who just offed half their crew , right in front of the other half of the crew ?!?! - even with my hyperactive imagination fueled by just quaffed nepenthe , - I just can't seem to picture that ..... :blink: hahaah

I don't think he'd get all wrapped up or whipped by a woman who's like that , no matter how hot she would have been , & that's something else I won't address at length but it is something we all have thought about - just how hot or cute could Belit be after any length of time , strutting half-dressed on a ship of the most savage pirates imagineable & not be used up , manhandled & gobbled to pieces & spit out ?! There's been some real life 'lady' pirates ( hows that for an oxymoron) - like the 'real' life Queen of the pirates Cheng Yih Sao in China who controlled ALLL the harbors of China , she was the most succesful pirate to ever live ( yes including Morgan , BlackBart Roberts or Blackbeard ) I have a pretty good idea she was a part of Howards inspiration for belit . There was the 2 freakazoids Anne Bonny & Mary Reade who sailed with Calico Jack & basically made the bumpkinns short career for him , & there's others . In every case - they became pirates only because the rest of the crews couldn't even tell they were women & feared them !!! There were 'women' pirates , but there were no 'lady' pirates . This is one of Howards most loved & well known Conan tales , but it doesn't seem to me to be an 'inspired' story like most of his others , this one seems like "okay , it's just a pulp-fiction yarn" Do any of those details of this story bug anybody else other than me at all ? Maybe I just have the idea in the back of my head that my big brother Conan should have a better woman for his steady squeeze ? :lol:

Edited by PAINBRUSH, 18 February 2007 - 07:16 AM.

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" Look for a long time at what pleases you... and longer still at what pains you "
So THIS is civilization ??!??!......

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#19 Speelie

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Posted 18 February 2007 - 03:11 AM

Yeah PB, you're not alone, the story never worked for me, though as I state above, I can see how it DOES work for others. It has a lot of raw, primal elements, lust, greed, and so on, and that makes it compelling, to a certain extent. But the aspects you bring up leave it as something I don't really enjoy, and thus it is towards the bottom of the list of my personal favorites in the Conan canon.

#20 Pictish Scout

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Posted 18 February 2007 - 06:42 AM

Agreed. It is possible the "race issue" has a lot to do with this. A White godess with her childish black corsairs. If I remember she "let" Conan live and take a leading role only because he was white. Conan became their new master and they just take orders and obey and give their lives to the masters. Maybe I'm a little confused as I've read the original version and the Marvel's one. I think the Marvel version explored the relationship between Belit and the Corsairs in a way we can assume she was seen as a godess, although there were important black characters like M'gora and the old Nyala...if I'm not mistaken. In my opinion this story leaves many questions. Yet it gives us a good insite to Conan's life philosophy. If the story was longer maybe it could be much much better. Maybe one of the most exoctic Conan's stories for the readers of the 30's: a white naked woman, leading black corsairs. She isn't even a warrior. well the nakedness isn't that irrealist. she uses only a girdle so it is possible she is dressed like any african tribal woman of that age. But...what does she know? How does she became her leader? Because they think she is a godess?