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The broken sword af Poul Anderson
Indlæser...

The broken sword (original 1954; udgave 1971)

af Poul Anderson

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
1,2092911,874 (3.8)47
Thor has broken the sword Tyrfing so that it cannot strike at the roots of Yggdrasil, the tree that binds together earth, heaven, and hell. But now the mighty sword is needed again to save the elves in their war against the trolls, and only Skafloc, a human child kidnapped and raised by the elves, can hope to persuade Bolverk the ice-giant to make Tyrfing whole again. But Skafloc must also confront his shadow self, Valgard the changeling, who has taken his place in the world of men.… (mere)
Medlem:bperry1397
Titel:The broken sword
Forfattere:Poul Anderson
Info:New York, Ballantine Books [1971]
Samlinger:Ballantine Adult Fantasy - Lin Carter ed., Dit bibliotek
Vurdering:****
Nøgleord:Ingen

Detaljer om værket

The Broken Sword af Poul Anderson (1954)

  1. 20
    Eventyret om ringen af J. R. R. Tolkien (LamontCranston)
  2. 00
    Narn i chîn Húrin : fortællingen om Húrins børn af J. R. R. Tolkien (themulhern)
    themulhern: A grim doom, lots of fighting, hidden identities, slightly different elves.
Indlæser...

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Viser 1-5 af 29 (næste | vis alle)
I read this one after [a:Neil Gaiman|1221698|Neil Gaiman|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1234150163p2/1221698.jpg]'s latest offering, [b:Norse Mythology|33290550|Norse Mythology|Neil Gaiman|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1481209333s/33290550.jpg|51396954] (see my review here). In other words, from one book on Norse mythology to the next, although Poul Anderson also took some elements from Celtic mythology for the context of his story.

The first thing one notices, aside from the rather thin size, is Anderson's writing style. Not contemporary at all, but very poetic, one might say. And I don't even like poetry. But seriously, it makes the reading experience all the more worthwhile. Like in [a:Arthur Conan Doyle|2448|Arthur Conan Doyle|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1289836561p2/2448.jpg]'s fantastic [b:The White Company|93063|The White Company|Arthur Conan Doyle|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1328864559s/93063.jpg|785960] (see my review here).

Anderson's story takes place in England and Scandinavia. Of course, he used other names for the respective kingdoms: Alfheim for the elves, Trollheim for the trolls, Jotunheim for the giants, ... Other characters are Norse and Celtic gods, the Sidhe (creatures from Irish and Scottish mythology), humans, ...

Trolls and elves aren't the best of friends, to say the least. So they clash: one to keep their current territories, the other to expand their territories and eradicate their enemies. But it wouldn't have come to all this, if it wasn't for the baby-switch - result: a human being brought up by the elves and a half-human-troll being brought up by humans, with the two babies looking alike - and the lust for power.

However, the gods (Aesir and Frost giants) also have their reasons to see the elves and trolls fight to the death. Especially one sword, in which resides an evil spirit, is a deciding factor in the events. Only, they don't want it to end in total disaster for, say, the trolls. Otherwise, war in heaven might really break out and that means... Ragnarok, of course.. The sword in question (Tyrfing, not to mistake with the Swedish metal band Thyrfing), however, was broken at some moment in time (by Thor), so it had to be made whole again, which could be done only by Bolverk, the frost giant. Also, each time the sword was drawn, it had to taste blood: someone else's or its wielder's.

As the pagan religions are involved, so is Christianity. Several humans had chosen to convert, in order to be left alone, to continue living their lives. Some then really became devout, others were more moderate in their new belief. But it shows that the aspect of sin was quite dominate in some families, which meant that people didn't dare do much for fear of punishment by God.

Love is another factor in the story, but it's used and abused for various reasons and with various consequences: to obtain a new found home / shelter, or even for political and military reasons.

In the end, what goes around, comes around. Life wasn't easy, for any of the central characters. There was hardship, there were many (very cold) winters, ... and certain undertakings took "three days and nights" (or, as the religious saying goes: "for three days and three nights"), a key phrase in the book, or, another reference to religious influence.

At the end, Poul Anderson wrote an afterword on the story and what was correct, what was added by him, and so on.

This book came out, it is said, in the same year as [a:J.R.R. Tolkien|656983|J.R.R. Tolkien|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1434625177p2/656983.jpg]'s [b:The Fellowship of the Ring|727798|The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, #1)|J.R.R. Tolkien|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1307111070s/727798.jpg|3204327], which I've yet to read. One can't read everything nor all at once. Too many books, not enough time. :(

In any case, I can highly recommend [b:The Broken Sword|21806370|The Broken Sword|Poul Anderson|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1396303829s/21806370.jpg|1205843], especially if you're into (Norse and/or Celtic mythology) and enjoy well-written prose. ( )
  TechThing | Jan 22, 2021 |
1954. The same year that [b:The Fellowship of the Ring|34|The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, #1)|J.R.R. Tolkien|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1298411339s/34.jpg|3204327] came out. And yet, this is arguably a better book.

What? No way! But what about JRRT's depth of world-building, the gradual easing of modest characters into epic ones? What about the language? How could a single fantasy novel by a popular SF author outdo one of the standards of literature?

Easy. Make characters as sharp and bright as arrows, fit them into the bow of a world, and let them fly straight and true. Give them immediate adventure, no superfluous quests or long-winded reliance on the little annoying things like lembas this and lembas that, and throw them deep into revenge, epic love stories, swords that will chop down the world-tree, incest, the undead, and the machinations of the Norse gods. And of course, you can't have a tale without witches, trolls, elves, and dwarves, especially when they are NOT the derivative of JRRT, that they are derived precisely from the epic tales of Norse legends, that they are as old and deep and rich as the real peoples who have been telling these tales for over a thousand years, and we're not forgetting Wagner's Ring Cycle, are we? Oh wait... who is taking what story elements from whom? Oh... right...

So why is this short and truly tight Norse epic pretty much ignored? Oh, I suppose it has something to do with the times it came out. Everything needed a Christian motif back then, and this sure as hell didn't have it, even if the Christian god had a walk-on role, as did the olympians, so of course Narnia and JRRT were given a lot more talk-time. But imagine, if you will, if this nearly perfect adventure-epic were given a fresh splash of paint and a huge advertising budget. Not as a movie, but as a fantastically rich book who's time has finally come?

I think we're ready as a culture to open ourselves up to a truly fascinating mythos that has really been left on the sideboard for way too long. Gaiman's Mr. Wednesday aside, or [b:The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul|357|The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (Dirk Gently, #2)|Douglas Adams|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1388257271s/357.jpg|1096], of course.

This was one hell of a rip-roaring adventure, with cloven heads and high adventure, stormed walls, deceit, sex, revenge, and horror. It's easily all the best aspects of the huge epic fantasy door-stoppers in an easy to digest format, with beautiful poetry literally flowing through it, and best of all, it never has a dull moment or dull characters. It is, in short, a work of true brilliance.

And let's not let things like this disappear, shall we? Let's not assume that the most well-known works are always the best. (I feel like a traitor, saying so, because I've read JRRT's stuff over 7 times.)



A side note, my postscript:

Poul Anderson's opening to the novel was a real eye-opener. He just had to tell us that his intent was to call attention to the magic and the races as high-tech analogues, as per Clarke's law. There was no direct explanation or reveal in the text, though, so he wanted us to feel like we were in a perfect fantasy novel, but the fact that he did put the question to us first means that he intended us to read on several levels at once, and because I obliged him, this novel managed to blow my mind in several ways at once. This was no idle fancy. This was a master storyteller asking us to enjoy it as deeply as he wrote it.

What a guy. :) ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
That was a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. It was also kind of a drag to read, mostly because of the style in which it was written. It wasn't really the sort of fantasy I like to read. ( )
  chaosfox | May 1, 2020 |
I don't see what all the fuss is about. I can't believe I made it as far as halfway. I'm a freaking hero for getting that far, and I demand to be celebrated for it. I was originally seduced by all the screaming on the net about how this lost some award to The Lord of the Rings, which single-handedly signaled the fall of Western civilization, and the advent of bottled water. I guess it's kind of hard to meet those expectations (even if I'm not a Lord of the Rings fanboy), but meet them it didn't.

Ok, the simple truth is, as fast-paced as this book is, as unprecedented as some of its stats are (deaths per page, adjectives per noun, adverbs per adjective, gloms per zloot klop), it was kind of boring. ( )
  mvayngrib | Mar 22, 2020 |
It's fine. It's not the second coming. Any comparison to The Lord of the Rings is likely precipitated by the coincidence of publication dates.

It reads more old-fashioned than it actually is (it reminds me of the mood of 1920s or earlier fiction, e.g. Lord Dunsany, or Eddison, or going back further, but more appropriately) William Morris). The characters are lightly sketched, without the kind of psychological realism we are used to in a novel--reminding me (again, appropriately) of characters in a viking saga, or any piece of literature pre-18th century (when characters had names, a bit of description attached, and then they wander through the plot with little more than that).

It would likely make a pretty exciting movie, and no one could complain that they hadn't captured the nuance of characters as there is none to be captured. Here is a sample of the style:

Skafloc grew apace, and a bonny boy he was, big and gay, with great blue eyes and hair like spun gold in the sunshine. He was noisier than the few elf children, and grew so much swifter that he was a man when they were still unchanged.

(It should really be "so much more swiftly" ... my initial read of this passage was that he would win a footrace!)

Or, in a more blood-thirsty vein:

Mightily he smote at the flank of the invaders. An elf fell to his ax, he twisted the weapon loose and struck at another, smashed the face of a third with his shield--hewing, hewing, he waded into battle.

So if you'd like a modern faux-Icelandic saga, this is for you! But don't expect unforgettable characters, or an exciting new milieu, or even unanticipated twists and turns. It's not that kind of book.

( )
  ashleytylerjohn | Sep 19, 2018 |
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Thor has broken the sword Tyrfing so that it cannot strike at the roots of Yggdrasil, the tree that binds together earth, heaven, and hell. But now the mighty sword is needed again to save the elves in their war against the trolls, and only Skafloc, a human child kidnapped and raised by the elves, can hope to persuade Bolverk the ice-giant to make Tyrfing whole again. But Skafloc must also confront his shadow self, Valgard the changeling, who has taken his place in the world of men.

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