Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Elves Versus Trolls


noun, Archaic.
1.
a maiden.
-copied from here
Troll-king Illrede says:
"'Long is it since I held a human may in my arms -'"
-Poul Anderson, The Broken Sword (London, 1977), p. 64.
Not gifted as yet with witch-sight, the two women captives being given to Illrede cannot see him and think that his voice is an inexplicable echo. Again, the elves sound like part of the environment.
"...the crags and scaurs of the elf-hills..." (p. 65)
"...he swept his glaive..." (p. 68) 
Trolls guard the archway leading to Illrede's hall. There is too little room before the arch for the elves to engage properly with the trolls. However, the arch is high so Skafloc uses a spear to pole-vault over the troll guards, then attack them from behind. Their line breaks and the elves get through. This scene certainly deserves to be filmed.
"The elf archers loosed their shafts...as ever, most arrows rattled harmlessly off rocks, or stuck in shields, and all were soon spent." (p. 73)
But I had the idea that elven arrows would always hit, like these magic swords that always kill?
"...dunting elf lurs..." (p. 73)  
"...hatred for everything elfly..." (p. 74)
The noun, "elf," has two adjectives, "elfin" and "elven," with different connotations. Anderson adds a third, "elfly," which I cannot find by googling. 
Thou wast not born for death, immortal bird!
No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
The same that oft-times hath
Charmed magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas in fairy lands forlorn.
-copied from here
Poul Anderson's prose opens "magic casements" on "fairy lands forlorn." Sometimes his casements are stained glass. Thus, we appreciate the colors and shapes in the glass as well as the "perilous seas" beyond them. 

1 comment:

  1. Kaor, Paul!

    Aha! In my previous readings of THE BROKEN SWORD I simply accepted, without pausing to think it over, King Illrede's seemingly odd use of "may." I should have looked it up to discover it was an archaic word for "maiden." Darn!

    Sean

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