Friday, 6 September 2013

"No Truce With Kings": Conclusion

Poul Anderson's "No Truce With Kings" (Winners, New York, 1981) presents a solid account of troop movements and engagements in a civil war with a man and his son-in-law on opposite sides, the latter killed leading a charge near the end of the story.

In this particular fictitious future, an army hex corps carries wands of power to counteract witchcraft not because magic has been found to work, as in some other works by Anderson, but because superstition has grown during the breakdown of civilization after a nuclear war. Thus, hexes can exist in science fiction whereas hexes that work exist in fantasy.

The young widow will not let her son grow up to be a soldier but will instead join a community dedicated to peace. Anderson, not a pacifist, here shows the central character's daughter opting for a path different from that of her father and husband.

We know that aliens have been involved behind the scenes because we have read two of their dialogues earlier in the story. Nevertheless, I find it a wrench when the human characters entering an enemy stronghold capture a small group of seven-foot, seven-fingered, avian-featured beings with rudimentary wings. The change of perspectives here is too abrupt. But I have got a lot more out of the story on a second reading.


  1. Hi, Paul!

    My idea is that this "wrenching" change of perspective on humans first openly meeting aliens from another planet was deliberate on Anderson's part. To make all the mosre sharp anad clear the contrast between the aliens and the humans.

    I would note as well the counter argument given in defense of decentralization to the aliens by one of McKenzie's subordinate officers to the aliens last ditch pleas that McKenzie could stil help cover up their interference in human affairs. That if the aliens had come openly and honestly they might well have won supporters for their views. Perhaps even enough to have succeeded.


  2. Sean,
    And other Anderson aliens do come openly. Yet again, Anderson seems to cover every possibility.

  3. Hi, Paul!

    I agree, Anderson seems able and willing to try out any possibility in his stories. The example which comes to mind, "Peek! I See You," shows aliens NOT interested in interfering in human affairs to any major degree, but still coming to Earth.

    Unrelated topic, I finally found "...a wilderness of stars" in MIRKHEIM. It's in chapter 4 of that book. Now I have to find it in FOR LOVE AND GLORY.