Saturday, 31 January 2015

The Virgin Of Valkarion

Poul Anderson's "The Virgin of Valkarion" is yet another mixed genre pulp short story. Human beings fight with swords but on another planet where there are two moons and the hero rides not a horse but a beaked "hengist." A long gone Empire has left an Imperial Way and a Temple of the Two Moons although the northern barbarians worship wind and stars and the nameless powers of winter and death.

There are not only temples ruined for thousands of years but also the sand and salt of dead sea-bottoms so that the feeling of being on an old and dying planet that has never had an industrial civilization is palpable. I have not read far into the story yet but, when I do finish it, I will have exhausted the ebook and will have to await the arrival of the second NESFA collection. There is no suggestion as yet either that magic works or that the gods intervene in human affairs although the Temple priesthood is clearly powerful and dangerous so read on but not tonight.

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