Saturday, 20 October 2012

The Demon Of Scattery II

In Poul Anderson's The Demon Of Scattery (New York, 1980), unfamiliar terminology: Vikings call Christians " '...Papas.' " (p. 16) Also, " '...prime-signed...'" Pagans can trade with Christians even though not (yet) baptised. (p. 64) I do not remember noticing these details on first reading.

The book becomes unequivocally a historical fantasy only on page 124 of 193 when Brigit, the goddess, not the saint, appears to Brigit, the nun. As in The Broken Sword, we see both the divine and the nature through which the divine is seen. When the goddess vanishes:

"Where she had stood was merely a patch of green moss, like any other spot on the banks of the pool." (p. 126)

Earlier, the goddess had worn green in the heroine's dream. But, if we start to think that a green patch has been mistaken for a green-clad woman, then next we see a giant serpent attacking the Vikings and killed by lightning (Thor).

In Brigit the nun's second dream in the novel, she sees her mother, who had followed the Old Way, die in child-birth while a "...shadow figure..." says, " '...she served us well.' " (p. 91)

My Pagan friends will like the conclusion of this novel when the former nun accompanies the Viking chief back to Norway and bears his sons and daughters.

2 comments:

  1. Hi, Paul!

    It's been far too long since I read THE DEMON OF SCATTERY by Anderson/Broxon. But your comments about the nun Brigit reminded me of how she realized, near the end of the book, of her imperfect motives for entering the religious life. That is, my impression was Brigit became a nun because she was afraid of the dangers of childbirth (which were very real in those days of primitive medicine).

    And Brigit's accompanying the Viking chieftain to Norway was balanced by how the Chieftian's son became a Christian and eventually a monk. Anderson takes delight in showing how complex real life actually is.

    Sean

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  2. Afraid of the dangers of childbirth? Yes, I think I've missed something in her motivation.

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