Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Ravens III

Odin's symbol, the raven, appears on the banners and sails of his descendants, the Skjoldungs, in Poul Anderson's War Of The Gods and Hrolf Kraki's Saga (New York, 1973) and the title of Volume III of his Last Viking Trilogy is The Sign Of The Raven.

This is one of the few Anderson novels that I have not yet read. However, it is possible to know exactly where it fits in his works. Like the first and second volumes of the trilogy, it is historical fiction, not fantasy. Thus, there can be no gods, giants, elves, dwarves or magic that works. (Indeed, in what has already been read, a sea voyage to the North discovers not Jotunheim but icebergs and must turn back.)

Secondly, since the title character and the events of his life are historical, we already know exactly how the story must end for King Harald Hardrada of Norway at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in the North East of England on the 25th of September, 1066. We have the Norns' knowledge of what will be. But this inevitability and foreknowledge are appropriate.

Reading Anderson requires a dictionary although we can now easily google obscure phrases. This, without explanation:

"All men must dree their weirds." (p. 132)

We know "weird" by now but what is "dree"? It sounded familiar but I had to google it. All men must accept their fates. And that applies particularly in this case to Harald Hardrada, trying to conquer England and knowing already the possible outcomes.


  1. Is it possible that the Raven as an Oracle is also asking Men to consult the Fates. Ravens call: Cra Cra (latin for Tomorrow) gives voice to the future. "Weird" in singular may be different from "Weirds" in Plural. Fate being different from Fates. Dree may also be "endure" or "suffer".

    All men must suffer their Fates. going to the oracle is not going to be fun of happy. It will bring dark to light. There is a pessimistic blackness here. I am hearing that studies show that pessimism correlates to a higher chance of success..... One can strategise more effective when the darkness is revealed. Just thinkin....