Monday, 17 December 2012

Synopsis

In Poul Anderson's The Golden Horn (New York, 1980), the account of the battle of Stiklastadh is on pages 29-47. Ten years and eighty eight pages later, Harald recounts his life from shortly before that battle to the present:

"...of his youth, Olaf the Stout and the battle of Stiklastadh; of his refuge in the wilderness, the ride across the Keel, the winter in heathen Sweden and the journey across the Baltic; of Jaroslav's folk; of warring in the marshes of Poland and on steppes where cornflowers blazed blue under an endless mournful wind; of the fleet that went down the Dnieper toward Miklagardh the Golden; of the years since, roving and lurching about the Midworld Sea, remembering while whetted metal sang how the young beech trees had laughed in a Northern springtime." (p.135)

This kind of synopsis comes well at the end of a novel. Dornford Yates' narrator often reviewed the high points in the last paragraph. This evocative paragraph in The Golden Horn confers a greater unity and continuity on Harald's life so far than maybe the preceding necessarily episodic chapters had done, particularly the phrase "...of the years since, roving..." It is only a few years but this phrase makes it seem longer. Chapter IV, How Three Made Merry, recounts a single memorable night that would have been one of many.

And the paragraph ends by informing us that Harald had always remembered where he came from.

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