Literature / The Frost-Giant's Daughter

"The Frost-Giant's Daughter" (a.k.a. "Gods of the North") is a Conan the Barbarian story written by Robert E. Howard.

It features a younger Conan than in any other story; while he has left Cimmeria, he is still in the Grim Up North. After a battle in which he is the sole survivor, a mysterious, lightly clad woman appears and lures him over the snows until she reaches two giants, her brothers, whom she calls on to kill him. Conan kills them and goes after the woman, who escapes leaving her only garment in Conan's hand and calls on her father Ymir, who whisks her away. Other friends of Conan track him down, wondering why he left the battlefield, and at first disbelieve his story, but one of them had actually seen the woman, and he still has her garment.

Written in 1932, but not published. A version modified by Howard appeared in March 1934. A version modified by L. Sprague de Camp appeared in 1953. The original version was first published in 1976. Marvel Comics adapted one version of the story into their first issue of the Savage Tales of Conan the Barbarian in August 1973.

Tropes included

  • Attempted Rape: It's pretty obvious what Conan means to do to Atali when he catches her.
    • A rape would be inconsistent with Conan's character, so another interpretation of his intentions would be more logical. Anyway, it is strongly suggested that Atali magically manipulated the men's actions to lure them into a trap. This is how Conan remembered it:
    A strange madness fell upon me when I looked at her, so I forgot all else in the world. I followed her.
  • Badass: It's a Conan story.
  • Badass Beard: Every Nordheimer.
  • The Bait: Atali does this to Conan.
  • Call on Me: Atali on her father.
  • Disability Immunity: Grom had seen Atali and survived because of the severity of his wounds, which prevented him from following her.
  • Exposed to the Elements: Atali wears nothing but a gossamer cloth, and is even barefoot in the snow. Justified in that she is the daughter of Ymir the Frost Giant.
  • Giving Them the Strip: How Atali gets away
  • Horny Vikings: The Aesir and Vanir. Conan is this as well, being a sort of naturalized Aesir; given that he basically adopts their ways and manners, swearing by their gods and desiring their afterlife. Atali calls him out on it.
  • An Ice Person: Atali, also her father.
  • I Shall Taunt You: Atali mocks Conan endlessly.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: See Attempted Rape above. Normally Conan adheres to a sort of rough chivalric code, and rape is beneath him. The insane murderous lust Atali works him up into - whether he's under a spell or not - demonstrates just how far out on the edge he is.
  • Or Was It a Dream?: At the end.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: Atali's brothers.
  • Physical God: Ymir
  • You Imagined It: At the end. Or not. It's left ambiguous.

Alternative Title(s): The Gods Of The North