Friday, 24 June 2016

Seven Generations

Poul Anderson, Hrolf Kraki's Saga (New York, 1973).

Since Frodhi the Peace-Good was the grandfather of that Frodhi who was an uncle of Helgi who was both grandfather and father of Hrolf who is the father-in-law of Svipdag and Bjarki, we are talking about seven generations here.

The narrative is extremely condensed. Beginning on p. 5, it reaches the Peace-Good's grandsons on p. 11. When, at the end of Part IV, section I, Hrolf becomes the Danish King, section II changes scene:

"West of the lowlands which Uppsala overlooks, the mountains of Svithjodh rise high, steep, and thickly wooded..." (p. 113)

We must now be told about the antecedents of Svipdag. Chapter V, section I, begins with another change of scene:

"West of the Westmen in Svithjodh, the mountains of the Keel rise ever higher and steeper..." (p. 145)

- and section II:

"Not far off dwelt a yeoman called Gunnar." (p. 149)

It is now Bjarki's antecedents that are being explained although he is not due to be born until section III begins on p. 157.

The dense text and scene changes make it very easy to break of from reading periodically but it is all the more rewarding to persevere and then to view the entire panorama of the legendary past. Hrolf, gathering all the great warriors into his hall, is a Northern counterpart of Arthur Pendragon.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Not just King Arthur! Hrolf Kraki and his gathering of mighty warriors also reminds me of Charlemagne and his Paladins. In fact, we see Poul Anderson making use of that in THREE HEARTS AND THREE LIONS, where Holger Carlsen was actually Ogier Danske, one of the Paladins of Charlemagne.