Tuesday, 18 December 2012

The Road Of The Sea Horse

The Last Viking, Volume II: The Road Of The Sea Horse by Poul Anderson begins with a seven page Foreword summarising earlier relevant events, including those already described in Volume I: The Golden Horn. The Foreword ends by stating that Harald and his co-ruler of Norway, Magnus,

"...had a claim on the throne of England." (p. 13)

That statement prefigures how Volume III must end.

Volumes I and II, and presumably also Volume III not yet in my possession, display distinctive cover illustrations presenting Harald as described in the text.

Anderson's rich vocabulary remains evident but in this volume some of it is explained. The familiar word "Viking":

" '...means a man of the vik, the inlet.' " (p. 18)

A farmer tells Harald, " '...this is odal land.' " (p. 19) However, he does immediately explain that:

" 'By law, it cannot be sold out of the family...' " (p. 19)

Sweden, still heathen, is haunted by elf, drow, were-bear and troll. Drow? Offerings are made to goblins and dead chiefs. Ghosts are heard in the wind and some men swear they see Odhinn leading the dead through the sky. In Anderson's fantasies, Odin interacts with Kings of Denmark like any other character in the narrative but here he is merely imagined.

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