Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Gaining And Sharing The Kingdom

Although Harald Hardrada ends the first volume of Poul Anderson's The Last Viking Trilogy as a king of Norway, he has to share the kingdom with his kinsman, Magnus, so the scene is set for continued political conflict in Volume Two.

He has gained this partial kingship by deserting an ally and:

"...Harald steered for the nearest hamlet, cut down the folk on the beaches who tried to stop him, and plundered and burned." (The Golden Horn, New York, 1980, p. 261)

One of his men protests, " 'This is no way to fight...against women and harmless farmers.' " (p. 263)

- but Harald says that it is necessary. He refuses to farm as his father did. The father was right and Harald is wrong. But, in this series, Anderson is writing realistic historical fiction. Harald is not Conan, the wholly admirable hero of a heroic fantasy.

Addendum, 18/12/12: The blurb on my copies of The Last Viking misdescribes Harald as "...the real-life CONAN..."!


Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

As you said, Harald III of Norway was not like Conan. Or even like Manuel Argos, who did hard things, not because he loved them, but because it was necessary if order was to be restored in the chaos following the collapse of the Polesotechnic League and the Solar Commonwealth.


Paul Shackley said...

The blurb on my volumes of THE LAST VIKING calls Harald "the real-life CONAN"! Whereas the trilogy should really be advertised by saying, effectively, "Look how diverse Anderson is. Now read something completely different from CONAN!"

I might make this point in an Addendum to the post.