Wednesday, 19 December 2012

"Old Time Is Still A-Flying"

" 'Do you remember the days of our youth, when we drank Miklagardh dry and set the world on its beam-ends?' " (Poul Anderson, The Road Of The Sea Horse, New York, 1980, p. 74)

Miklagardh is a Northern name for Constantinople. Regular readers remember the days when Harald and his friends were Varangian Guards in Constantinople because we read about them in the first volume of The Last Viking Trilogy.

Harald had two constant companions, Halldor and Ulf. Now Halldor, no longer a youth, wants to retire from royal military service in Norway and to buy a good farm in his native Iceland. Harald realises that he himself is thirty-three and that:

" '...it does seem that time goes faster than it used to.' " (p. 75)

That is because each new year is a smaller proportion of the total to date. Harald thinks that:

"...if he must fight Svein for twenty years, he would." (p. 79)

He will not. He will die in battle eighteen years hence because of the kind of life that he has chosen. As his wife had said:

" '...what will you ever do, but kill men who've wrought you no harm, and burn homes you're too lazy and stupid to build...?' " (p. 66)

Time is going faster than he thinks. 

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