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 Bölverk 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.
©1954 Poul Anderson (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.” -- Somerset Maugham
I had forgotten how awesome this book was. It's Anderson's fantasy tour-de-force and, in the end, I think the scope gets away from him just a bit. It seems almost too grand for such a short book, but damn if he doesn't pack in an immense amount of world-building, characterization, and just all-around cool factor.
You should read this book if:
• You are a fan of Moorcock's Elric novels. You will see CLEAR inspiration in here without getting the sense that Moorcock ripped Anderson off.
• You love the dark ages history and legends/folklore of the Scandinavia, England, Ireland, and Scotland.
• You dig classic sword & sorcery fantasy.
One of the most interesting things for me in this reading (my second time) was simply Anderson's language. I listened to it as an audiobook (the Bronson Pinchot reading is great) and was amazed at how often Anderson wove the alliterative nature of old English verse into the text itself. I mean, aside from the actual short verses uttered by the hero (or is he?) of the novel.
Also, when I first read this novel as a teenager, I took a pretty simplistic view of it. Skafloc is the good guy, Valgard is the bad guy. With this reading I realized there is a lot more grey in this novel than you might think. I started to think of Valgard as a kind of Frankenstein's monster. A changeling created by the elf Imric and left to its own devices -- having troll blood that it doesn't understand and a fate it can't escape. It makes Valgard pretty tragic, actually, and explains some of his hideous acts (which are almost always done in a fit of troll-blood rage and with some sense of remorse after the fact). On the other hand, you have Skafloc, who is like Oedipus, trying to force his will on a situation that is a real minefield. Learning the truth and employing his birth right are the twin forces set to destroy him, and it's his indomitable will that brings them into play.
All in all this is a straight-up kick ass read. Lots of levels. A ridiculous amount of awesome. Probably in my top 10 fantasy novels of all time.
I'm addicted to the last chapter of long fantasy series. It's a legitimate problem.
The story was beautiful and poetic, and the performance was brilliant. At times I enjoyed the syntax as much as the story.
First of all, this performance is absolutely brilliant. Pinchot really hits it out of the park and I plan too look up more of his recordings.
Second, some critics have called Poul Anderson called better than J.R. Tolkien and while I don't agree entirely, the comparison is well earned. Both authors draw from the same pool of Norse, Celtic, and Christian mythology, but Anderson takes it in a much darker direction. Overall, not one to be missed!
Old English style. If you like beowulf you'll probably like this story... pantheon melodramatic characters and weird story telling. The narrator really likes pronouncing the H in wh words, whipped, when ect. I would not have bought it personally since not a fan of the style of writing.
Exceptionally well written!! Such amazing word pictures! Don't start listening on an evening when you need to go to bed! You won't want to put it down! The readers performance is exceptional!! Story and performance together make for an outstanding experience!!
This is one of the best fantasy novels I have ever read. Fast-moving, dark, complex characters. It has elements of Lord of the Rings, and Wagner's Ring of the Nibelungen
Pinchot is just amazing. His command of foreign accents, languages, and voices of the different characters, is astounding.
I want to read more Poul Anderson.
Enjoyable read. But the reading and voice acting really brought it to life. It was easy to know who was who by how distinct the voices are.
I was determined to finish this book, but it was a difficult task. This book is very slow and full of unnecessary details that complicated the story rather than enhancing it. I found myself zoning in and out as I listened to this book, something I've never done.
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