A very good point: however, is it not also possible that after his helmet got "marked with fierce strokes" he got another, more polished one before he went south? After all, he's already among the Aesir, and I don't really know where else one would get horned helms.
He certainly could have gotten a new helmet after being rescued by Niord and his fighting men of the Æsir at the end of The Frost-Giant's Daughter
, and before joining them in more battles and before fighting the Hyperboreans. But that is not the only place to get one. You would still have to account for how he escaped captivity among the Hyperboreans without his arms and armor being taken from him. While I am not saying that while escaping he was able to recover his arms isn't a possibility, it probably isn't likely.
Who is to say that many northern barbarians don't all use horned helms? I am positive that they are not only available from the Æsir.“Both were tall men, built like tigers. Their shields were gone, their corselets battered and dinted. Blood dried on their mail; their swords were stained red. Their horned helmets showed the marks of fierce strokes. One was beardless and black-maned. The locks of the other were red as the blood on the sunlit snow.”
– The Frost-Giant’s Daughter
In addition to the Æsir of Asgard it is obvious that a Vanir of Vanaheim one Heimdul in The Frost-Giant's Daughter
is wearing a horned helmet; presumably of Vanir make as the Vanir hatred of the Æsir probably would not let him go so far as to taking a helmet as a spoil of war, and he certainly would not want to be confused as an Æsir his enemy.
Who knows maybe the Cimmerians make and use horned helmets as well and he could have acquired another on any of his journeys home.
In Queen of the Black Coast the Argossean Tito notes that Conan's "horned helmet was such as was worn by the golden-haired Æsir of Nordheim"
. That is not an all inclusive statement meaning that only the Æsir wear them, only that the observer Tito in his experience has noted that the people of Asgard in Nordheim wear similar ones.
Remember that most Hyborians and others from the nations of the south consider all northern barbarians the same, making no distinction between the Cimmerian, Vanir, or Æsir peoples."'A map,' Conan answered with pride. 'The maps of the court show well the countries of south, east and west, but in the north they are vague and faulty. I am adding the northern lands myself. Here is Cimmeria, where I was born. And-' 'Asgard and Vanaheim,' Prospero scanned the map. 'By Mitra, I had almost believed those countries to have been fabulous.'"
-The Phoenix on the Sword"'I suppose you are some sort of a northern barbarian-' 'I am a Cimmerian,' the outlander answered, in no friendly tone. The reply and the manner of it meant little to the Kothian; of a kingdom that lay far to the south, on the borders of Shem, he knew only vaguely of the northern races."
-The Tower of the Elephant"'I was born in Cimmeria.' The name meant little to her. She only knew vaguely that it was a wild grim hill-country which lay far to the north, beyond the last outposts of the Hyborian nations, and was peopled by a fierce moody race. She had never before seen one of them."
-The Black Colossus"To the people of exotic climes, the north was a mazy half-mythical realm, peopled with ferocious blue-eyed giants who occasionally descended from their icy fastnesses with torch and sword. Their raids had never taken them as far south as Shem, and this daughter of Shem made no distinction between Æsir, Vanir, or Cimmerian."
-The Queen of the Black Coast
There are many other examples of people meeting Conan having no idea where Cimmeria is other than in the north or who would even recognize a Cimmerian by sight. Who would ever expect them to unless they bordered Cimmeria as very few (Conan, his grandfather, possible a few others) travel out of that gloomy land save for raids on their neighbors from time to time. If they make arms or armor it is completely understandable that even an accomplished weapon-smith, armorer, or blacksmith may not recognize anything of Cimmerian make if the Cimmerians make anything in that fashion, as they probably would never have seen one or if they had not lived long enough to tell the tale of it.
There is only one example of a person recognizing Conan as a Cimmerian that I am aware of, although several recognize that he is a ferocious barbarian not to be trifled with.
Of all people a Kosalan, Baal-pteor in The Man-Eaters of Zamboula
immediately addresses Conan as a barbarian upon his entrance to the chamber and after an exchange of pleasantries and insults says: "Your head, Cimmerian!' taunted Baal-pteor."
without Conan having introduced himself or Baal-pteor being told who he was. Where a Kosalan of the Himalean region would have seen a Cimmerian or how he would recognize one on sight is its own mystery.
Conan obviously disagrees or maybe didn't catch that Baal-pteor called him a Cimmerian.“I think you never saw a man from the West before. Did you deem yourself strong, because you were able to twist the heads off civilized folk, poor weaklings with muscles like rotten string? Hell! Break the neck of a wild Cimmerian Bull before you call yourself strong. I did that, before I was a full-grown man – like this!”
– The Man-Eaters of Zamboula
Whoa! I was off on a tangent back to helmets!"That helmet held the other's gaze; it was without a crest, but adorned by short bull's horns." No civilized hand ever forged that head-piece."
-Beyond the Black River
Just because a helmet has bull's horns does not make it the same helmet. I think the descriptive words used marks each helmet as a separate one i.e. the dented and battered helm showing the marks of fierce strokes, the blue-steel helmet with highly polished horns, and the head-piece that no civilized hand made with short bull's horns. I think if they were all blue-steel that it would have been noticed by all who saw it and described it, if they were all showing the marks of fierce strokes again it would be consistently noted, and if the horns were highly polished in all it would likely draw attention if not comment.
I think trying to place The Frost-Giant's Daughter
based on a helmet is unwise when there are many more important things to consider.
I do think your conjecture is equally possible, though. The placement of "The Frost-Giant's Daughter" is such a bugbear. On the one hand, you have the hints from Howard himself in the Miller letter: on the other, there's that pesky "far have I wandered" remark. Hmmm.
Conan in The Frost-Giant's Daughter
is never mentioned as young as he is in all of the other tales set early in his career.
“Arus saw a tall powerfully built youth..."
-The God in the Bowl"He saw a tall, strongly made youth standing beside him."
- The Tower of the Elephant"Young in years he was hardened in warfare and wandering, and his sojourns in many lands were evident in his apparel."
-Queen of the Black Coast
That in itself causes much thought on where to place The Frost-Giant's Daughter
as well as Queen of the Black Coast
Further in The Frost-Giant's Daughter
he is described having a dark scarred face, as he is in many later tales.“With an oath the Cimmerian heaved himself up on his feet, his blue eyes blazing, his dark scarred face contorted.”
– The Frost-Giant’s Daughter
That in itself does not necessarily mean much as we know he has led a life "no-ways tame" and even as a youth has participated in clan disputes, blood-feuds, tribal wars, and probably raids on the Picts, Vanir, Æsir, Aquilonians, etc with his people and his participation at the destruction of Vanarium was talked about the council fires of the Cimmerians. He has been in plenty of battles to have gained scars at an early age. As is told while he is still a youth in The God in the Bowl.“I’ve killed better men than you for less than this.”
– The God in the Bowl“Conan had seen and heard men die by the scores, and never had he heard a human being make such sounds in the death-throes.”
– The God in the Bowl
Then there is that pesky quote you mention.
"Far have I wandered, but a woman like you I have never seen."
-The Frost-Giant's Daughter
Assuming that The Frost-Giant's Daughter
is early in his career what experience in roaming could he already have? "I had thought there was no village within many leagues of this spot, for the war carried us far, but you can not have come a great distance over these snows, naked as you are. Lead me to your tribe, is you are of Asgard, for I am faint with blows and the weariness of strife."
- The Frost-Giant's Daughter
We learn that prior to him meeting Atali and making the pesky comment he considers that he has already traveled far with the Æsir, over many leagues, and great distance, as Howard notes for some months.
If you add that to any possible raids into kingdoms bordering Cimmeria and peaceable visits to some of the same, he may have already traveled far at least in the perspective of a youth if not compared to all his eventual wanderings during his lifetime."It might have been at Vanarium, or he might have made a peaceable visit to some frontier town before that."
-Robert E. Howard Letter to P. Schuyler Miller
I think the key to placing The Frost-Giant's Daughter
and the trump card if you will is Howard himself saying that his first foray after Venarium and outside of the boundaries of Cimmeria (reversing his previous supposition above) was north with the Æsir for months fighting the Vanir and the Hyperboreans and in the same paragraph stating he was captured by the Hyperboreans escaping southward into Zamora (eventually) to make his appearance in The Tower of the Elephant
, his chronological debut of the stories that were already printed when the letter was written and the remark made. Even if his capture did not occur directly after his time with the Æsir it has to come prior to the tales set in Zamora specifically The Tower of the Elephant
because the only other tale in Zamora (The Nestor Synopsis
) was never finished and that is the only Zamorian tale in print.“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 Æsir, 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 in time to make his debut in print.”
- Robert E. Howard Letter to P.Schuyler Miller
Edited by Amra_the_Lion, 15 December 2010 - 03:56 PM.