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1/21/2021 5:34 pm  #1


Poul Anderson

In the John Carter of Mars channel, I was going to recommend a follow up to the Spider of Leng’s enjoyment of Poul Anderson’s The Broken Sword, and I decided that I should do so, instead, in Anderson’s own channel. Lo and behold, there was no sch channel! Yet.

Anderson was a “real” writer for pay, similar (I would argue) to REH, writing science, fantasy, and historical fiction for profit.

In fantasy communities, he is most recognized for The Broken Sword. Though the unending battle between Law and Chaos is featured in books by many writers, generally his Three Hearts and Three Lions gets credited for D&D’s alignment system.

Poul Anderson was an early member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, which can be seen as a form of roleplaying.

In addition to regular fantasy works, he popularized northern sagas, most noticeably Hrolf Kraki’s Saga and War of the Gods. (I have not yet read all of Anderson, but War of the Gods gets my highest Anderson recommendation.) He also contributed popular stories to Thieves World. He wrote Conan the Rebel.

Two historical fictions are as good as any Sword & Sorcery tale. These are The Golden Slave and Rogue Sword (I have yet to read The Last Viking trilogy).

DMR Books recently released a collection of his called Swordsmen from the Stars. I have not yet read it.

Anyway, I was going to recommend War of the Gods as an even better Sword & Sorcery novel than The Broken Sword.


“Our own age is not one which can afford to call its ancestors savage.” 
― Poul AndersonThe Broken Sword
 

1/21/2021 8:56 pm  #2


Re: Poul Anderson

The Dancer from Atlantis is also good (and one of my favorite Frazetta covers). Agree on The War of the Gods, though it's a toss-up for me on it or The Broken Sword. I should re-read Three Hearts and Three Lions, as I barely recall it, and it has the classic charm of being 1/4 the length of contemporary books.

I've got Swordsmen from the Stars in my queue, too. https://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/wink.png


"Rhialto said sternly: 'Sarsem, your conduct has been less than wise. Need I remind you of this?'
'You need say nothing! In sheer disgust, discharge me from my indenture! The humiliation will be an overwhelming punishment.'
'We are not so cruel,' said Ildefonse."
Jack Vance, Rhialto the Marvellous
 

1/23/2021 10:07 am  #3


Re: Poul Anderson

Just added The Broken Sword to my Amazon cart, as they have it available in a cheap paperback.  Will read it once I finish re-reading the Dark Elf trilogy by Salvatore.  I haven't read much by Anderson; just his Conan book and some of the short stories from Thieves' World as I recall.


"Could you fancy me as a pirate bold?  Or a longship Viking warrior with the old gods on his side?  Well, I'm an inshore man and I'm nobody's hero.  But I'll make you tight for a windy night and a dark ride."--Jethro Tull
 

1/23/2021 11:29 am  #4


Re: Poul Anderson

Spider of Leng wrote:

Just added The Broken Sword to my Amazon cart, as they have it available in a cheap paperback.  Will read it once I finish re-reading the Dark Elf trilogy by Salvatore.  I haven't read much by Anderson; just his Conan book and some of the short stories from Thieves' World as I recall.

Broken Sword is on its way from Abe books! Thanks all for the recommendations!


“How can I wear the harness of toil
And sweat at the daily round,
While in my soul forever
The drums of Pictdom sound?” 
 

1/30/2021 9:36 pm  #5


Re: Poul Anderson

Now that I've read it, I figured I'd post the review I already posted on Amazon here.  Oddly I found that I enjoyed the Drizzt novels more than this one.  Who'd have thought?  And where John Carter evoked Vin Diesel, this one evoked "The Avengers" movies for me.

Grounded in Norse and Celtic myths, infused with fantasy, tragedy, and romance, this novel, The Broken Sword, was a tremendous influence on both later fantasy writers and the creators of Dungeons & Dragons.  Indeed, in reading it, many of the tropes found in D&D and its offspring, such as Dungeon Crawl Classics, are found in the text.  So, for those reasons alone, fans of the game and of related writers such as Michaekl Moorcock should check this out.

That being said, it's not exactly a great read.  It bounces all over the place geographically and moves freely between fictitious realms and fantasy versions of Europe.  There are lots of characters, but several don't matter much.  Pretty much none of them are likable, which is kind of the point.  So it felt very much like watching one of those Avengers movies, where there are tons of characters, backstories and connections, but it's hard to keep them all straight.  Likewise, there are tons of battle scenes but they tend to be along the lines of those ridiculous things you see in comic books or superhero movies.  Since many of the heroes are literal or virtual gods, I suppose that's to be expected.  But it gets a bit tiresome after awhile.  If that's your jam, you'll love this.  

So read this if you're into over the top classic twentieth century fantasy steeped in European mythology.  If your tastes run more towards the Forgotten Realms novels, you might not like this as much.


"Could you fancy me as a pirate bold?  Or a longship Viking warrior with the old gods on his side?  Well, I'm an inshore man and I'm nobody's hero.  But I'll make you tight for a windy night and a dark ride."--Jethro Tull
 

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