Saturday, 29 September 2012

Odin In The Saga

I have been saying that Odin appears in two fantasies by Poul Anderson, The Broken Sword and War Of The Gods. Having read Hrolf Kraki's Saga only once many years ago, I had not remembered that Hrolf, while on a perilous journey, is advised three times by a tall, gray-bearded, spear-carrying, blue-cloaked yeoman hight Hrani wearing a broad-brimmed hat, who is old but wanders widely and laughs like a wolf. Two ravens are aloft and a wolf howls nearby.

Why do Hrolf and his warriors not recognise Hrani? Is it that the knowledge of Odin's appearance has been handed down to those who hear the stories but was not generally known at the time? Or does Odin cloud their minds? He does do this to some extent:

his house is not easy to see, standing in deep shadow like another darkness, and is of indeterminate size;
their experiences in the house are dreamlike;
they sense uncanniness;
Hrani is wise and a good story teller;
he regards Hrolf with "...an eye..." (p. 191);
they accept his unwelcome advice without question until afterwards.

Whatever the explanation, here is another appearance by Odin, adding a greater unity to Anderson's Dark Ages novels.

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