Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Poul Anderson BC

Uniform editions of Poul Anderson's Complete Works could include a four-volume boxed set, to be entitled "Poul Anderson BC," containing three novels of different genres and one collection.

I am currently rereading the heroic fantasy Conan The Rebel (New York, 1981), the earliest in chronological order of fictitious events because set in a prehistoric civilization. The phrase, " 'Mitra, himself a warrior...,' " on page 38 recalls "'Mithra, etiam miles...' " (Mithras, also a soldier...) in Poul and Karen Anderson's King of Ys tetralogy, which would be the second boxed set.

Conan, viewed from a distance by the villain in Chapter I, first appears as viewpoint character in Chapter III but not again until Chapter VI. Anderson uses intervening Chapters to introduce characters who are specific to this novel and to establish the situation which Conan and Belit are approaching.

New characters introduced in Chapter IV include Ausar, a chieftain of the rebelling Taians, and his daughter Daris. We are told that "...he had been unhappy about her wish to fare along in his roving force...," so that here he seems to be the viewpoint character of this section of the Chapter (p. 33). However, later in the same section, Daris "...gasped in dismay as she realized...The Stygians had kept themselves fully ready to fight..." so the narrative point of view is now hers (p. 36). She is either knocked out or killed - we do not yet know which although we soon learn - and the next section of the Chapter returns to Ausar's point of view.

Conan fans reading this far might resent the fact that he is off-stage so much - even Chapter III is mainly Belit recounting her story to Conan - but presumably he will soon return to center stage and remain there for most of the rest of the novel? Although not interested in reading any more of the Conan series, I appreciate Anderson's ability to construct a novel in this genre and within an established series. Conan The Rebel deserves to be republished as a volume both of the Complete Anderson and of the Complete Conan.

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