Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Tyrfing

The cursed sword Tyrfing figures in an Edda, a saga and a novel.

The novel is Poul Anderson's The Broken Sword (London, 1977), where the giant Bolverk says:

" 'Me it was whose help Dyrin and Dvalin besought, when they must make such a sword as this to ransom themselves from Svafrlami...' " (p. 163)

The attached image shows Odin's grandson Svafrlami securing Tyrfing.

Anderson's novel accurately reproduces the properties of the sword, the nature of its curse and eventually even its name as given in the Elder Edda. Thus, Anderson not only bases his heroic fantasy generally on Norse mythology but also more specifically presents a continuation or direct sequel to the Edda and the saga. Odin gives Tyrfing to Anderson's hero Skafloc because this superior weapon will enable Skafloc Elven-Fosterling to drive back the trolls who might otherwise overrun the elven realm, Alfheim. (The trolls are secretly aided by the gods' enemies, the giants, whereas Alfheim is potentially friendly or at worst indifferent and neutral.)

The Broken Sword, a thin paperback of fantastic content, is deceptive in appearance because the reader must look beneath its surface to find that it does not merely imitate Norse mythology; it also continues a story begun in the Elder Edda.     

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