Saturday, 22 February 2014

Brave To Be A King III

Poul Anderson, The Guardians Of Time (New York, 1981).

The Shah Nameh (p. 84) is "The Book of Kings," the Persian national epic.

A "snickersnee" (p. 89) is a long, sword-like knife.

The "Algonquian" (p. 108) is a group of Native American tribes.

A "hoplite" (p. 111) was a Greek citizen soldier, armed with spear and shield.

"Marathon" (p. 111) was a battle between Greeks and Persians in 490 BC.

"Gaugamela" (p. 111) was a battle between Greeks led by Alexander and Persians led by Darius III in 331 BC that led to the fall of the Persian Empire.

On previous readings, my attention skipped past these words as it followed the narrative. Now it is easy to google while blogging. (We live in a twenty first century of computers if not yet of space travel.) Of course I had known that Marathon was a battle from which was derived a race but had not known the date. Sometimes googling confirms an already existing, albeit vague, understanding of a word, as with "hoplite," but sometimes it presents substantially new information, like about the Shah Nameh or Gaugamela, and sometimes is a complete surprise, as with a previous example, "coffles."

And here is an interesting historical observation that I have not previously remembered however often I have reread "Brave To Be A King." When three Persians attack Everard:

"It was a disorderly attack. Superb fighters as individuals, the Persians had never developed the mass discipline of Europe, on which they would break themselves at Marathon and Gaugemela." (ibid.)

Keith Denison has lived as Cyrus the Great for sixteen years and must endure another thirteen before dying in battle. If he leaves ancient Persia to travel to the twentieth century after a mere sixteen years, it will not be to the twentieth century that he was born in and time traveled from. For one thing, Cyrus will not have allowed the Jews to return from Babylon. Anderson readers view that timeline in "The House of Sorrows." Everard, who has traveled to ancient Persia in search of the missing Denison, is forced in self-defense to kill the Chiliarch Harpagus but that too must change history...

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