Thursday, 27 September 2012


Poul Anderson's earliest heroic fantasy, The Broken Sword, differs in several respects from his later War Of The Gods and Hrolf Kraki's Saga.

(i) Whereas they are faithful retellings of Norse stories about Odin's descendants, it is a fanciful sequel to Norse stories about a magical sword.

(ii) Whereas they are firmly grounded in Scandinavian and North European geography, much of its action occurs in the invisible and apparently even impalpable halls of English elves.

(iii) When creating a new narrative, Anderson's imagination is not confined to Norse mythology. Thus, in The Broken Sword, Irish, Greek and Chinese supernatural beings coexist with those of the Vikings.

(iv) Those are national mythologies but the new internationalism of the Roman Empire is supernaturally represented by the White Christ before whom the old gods retreat. Christianity, absent from War Of The Gods, affects Hrolf Kraki's Saga only in that the stories of Hrolf, Frodhi, Hroar, Helgi, Svipdag, Bjarki, Yrsa, Skuld and Vogg are recounted in an English Christian court several centuries later.

Thus, in different works, we appreciate both creative invention and imaginative reconstruction.

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