In the tradition of high fantasy and magic, Poul Anderson here presents the translated tale of the heathen Danish king, Hrolf Kraki, a sort of pagan King Arthur. In the dark days of the very earliest middle ages (around the time of Beowulf), we find Hrolf king of a small Norse kingdom in what is today part of modern Denmark. Lord of the ancestors of the modern Danes, this unprepossessing ruler of men gathers about him the heroes of his day (or so legend apparently had it) and creates a brief golden age in a violent time. But Hrolf is star-crossed, the product of an unfortunate liaison between unhappy lovers (he is both son and brother to his mother) and scion of a family of violent and bloody strivers, a hero who, in the end, must defend all he has against the predations of his kin. In the process he has numerous adventures, confronts dark magic and builds a court of war-like champions. It's an episodic story which largely tracks the original saga itself (since another version, translated by the scholar Gwyn Jones, is almost the same although somewhat briefer). But it's a nicely told, fast-paced tale and, if Anderson translated it himself, he did a great job of it, turning it into a book in the genre of modern fantasy. Worth the read for anyone who likes fantasy . . . or sagas.
SWM author of The King of Vinland's Saga
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About the reviewer
Stuart W. Mirsky (swmirsky)
I'm a retired bureaucrat (having served, most recently, as an Assistant Commissioner in amunicipal agency in a major Northeastern American city). In 2002 I took an early retirement to pursue a lifelong … more
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