Monday, 17 December 2012

Harald And Maria

At the beginning of Chapter XIII of Poul Anderson's The Golden Horn (New York, 1980), Harald has left Constantinople and returned to Russia from where he intends to claim Norway. It is 1044 so he is now twenty nine. There are still twenty two years, and most of the Trilogy, left until Stamford Bridge...

When escaping arrest and imprisonment in Constantinople, he had had to leave behind, never to see again, his fiancee, Maria, because her parents and brothers would have been killed if it were known that she had fled with him. Instead, he will make a suitable marriage alliance back in the North.

Could he not have rescued Maria's entire family? In theory, yes, although this would have presented a more difficult practical problem. However, the main difficulty is that Anderson is writing historical fiction and King Harald Hardrada did not have a wife called Maria. Snorri Sturluson is the source for the story of Maria which may or may not be true but makes a powerful love story in Anderson's novel. Harald has started to escape with Maria but she persuades him that she must stay...

I cannot help thinking that they could have arranged to smuggle her whole family out later but that did not happen in history.

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