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Three Hearts and Three Lions (Operation Otherworld #2.5)

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  2,094 ratings  ·  114 reviews
Det var som fanden! (Loosely translated: "What the hell!")
Holger Carlsen was a very ordinary guy. True, he was born in Elsinore, hard by the gloomy castle of the Melancholy Dane; true, he was built like a football tackle (which he was, once, to the everlasting sorrow of his nose); true, he was fighting in the Danish Underground in World War II when it happened - but why sh
Mass Market Paperback, G1127, 160 pages
Published 1962 by Avon (first published October 1953)
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PoulAnderson-intro v2

Photobucket"Don't play coy with me Mr. 'one middle name isn't good enough for me.' What the hell does R.R. stand for anyway?"

"Rich and Ridiculously famous." Photobucket

Photobucket"Why you arrogant S.O...."

"Just kidding, Poul. Now what do you want?" Photobucket

PoulAnderson-1 v2

JRRTolkein-3 v2
JRRTolkein-4 v2
JRRTolkein-5 v2
Aug2011: I've read this maybe half a dozen times in the past 40 years & still love it. In the tradition of an Arthurian legend, a modern man is dumped into a fantasy world with abilities & limits that he doesn't understand well. He winds up on a quest with some very interesting characters, faces challenges both internal & external, & winds it all up in a rather abrupt fashion. I can never quite decide if I like the ending or not as the realism of it is somewhat at odds with the t ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
I suppose many of my friends here will wonder at the rating I've given this book. Looking at my screen name you can probably tell I like the paladin character. Reading this book I find myself wondering if possibly Gary Gygax may have been influenced in the creation of the Dungeons and Dragons Paladin by this book. Holger Carlsen is definitely a Paladin.

There is a dearth of good books about Paladins (I actually have several in various stages of completion...pray for me. I need to complete them).
After reading Anderson’s novel The High Crusade, I remarked how I wondered if Anderson was influenced by Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Twain must have influenced Three Hearts and Three Lions as the basis of the two stories are so close (there is even a direct reference to Twain’s work).

Poul Anderson was born in America but was of Scandinavian ancestry and his mother moved the family to Denmark to live for a time prior to World War II when they all moved back to the s
This was first published as a novella in 1953, and later expanded into a full novel in 1961. It is among the "educational and inspirational reading" listed in the famous Appendix N of Gary Gygax's Dungeon Masters Guide, and the influence it had on Dungeons and Dragons will be obvious. Michael Moorcock also admitted that he cribbed his ideas about an epic struggle between Law and Chaos (rather than Good and Evil) from Anderson's work, so this book is, in a way, an ancestor of the Elric stories an ...more
I was already partway through The Broken Sword, which is deeply inspired by Norse sagas, when I accidentally picked this book up -- I only meant to read a couple of pages, figure out how long it might take me to read it. I ended up reading it pretty much all in one go, in less than two hours total. I found it more absorbing than The Broken Sword -- though admittedly I read Three Hearts and Three Lions when I was bright and awake, and when I started The Broken Sword it was nearly bedtime -- and t ...more

This was an extremely basic fantasy novel. It felt like the author was reading the following handbook:

The Idiots Guide to Writing a Fantasy Novel

1. Choose your Hero. Preferably a male. Someone with strong, chiseled features.

2. Put your Hero in an awkward, fantastical, situation. (In Poul's case, he transported his lead character to another world riddled with a war between magical beings and non magical beings.)

3. Send your Hero on a quest. And another one. And another one. In fact, send
This book is often heralded as one of the forebears of the fantasy genre, though it usually eclipsed by Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, which was published little more than a year later.

There were parts of Three Hearts and Three Lions where I was genuinely interested in what was happening, and where I was excited to see what would happen next. I also enjoyed the juxtaposition between Holger's modern views and the advances of science with the pseudo-Carolingian world. Not to mention the tongue-i
Not since I read the great epic The Broken Sword have I read any of this author's fantasy and I was hoping to be wowed a lot more than I was.

The story was okay but had a few little quirks that detracted from my enjoyment such as the pointless Scottish accents of the protagonists two travelling companions and the boundless chauvinism that made me wince when I thought what I female reader might think reading this.

It was interesting to see how this had such a strong influence on Michael Moorcock t
I've had this book for years and I never get tired of it. I think I've read it 5-6 times and every time I take something different away. Always in my top 10!
Henry Brown
I didn't realize this was fantasy when I found this used book at a flea market as a teenager... but then, I didn't know much about genres. I guess I figured it was a SciFi/time travel book, like an adult version of Conetticut Yankee. I certainly had no idea it was written in the early '50s and, until tonight, had no clue it influenced Dungeons & Dragons.

I did find it fully enjoyable, engrossing, and leaving me wanting more when I finished it in record time. So much so that I bought other boo
Chosen for inclusion in both David Pringle's "Modern Fantasy: The Hundred Best Novels" and Cawthorn & Moorcock's "Fantasy: The 100 Best Books," "Three Hearts and Three Lions" had long been on my "must read someday" list. This compactly written epic of "hard fantasy" was first serialized in "The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction" in 1953 and released in an expanded book format in 1961. Author Poul Anderson was seemingly well suited to write this tale. The son of Scandinavian parents, a ...more
Mary Catelli
One of the classics of the fantasy genre. It opens with the first-person narrator recounting how Holger Carlsen, a Dane, had come to America for education and worked for the same company as the narrator -- until World War II, when he went back to Denmark to work for the resistance. Except that at one point, trying to cover an escape, pinned down by Nazi forces, he suffers a head wound and wakes up to find himself in an old growth forest. With hawks. And a bear. He could believe the others, but t ...more
A modern man, fighting for the underground in Denmark during World War II, is snatched into another world. He does not initially understand this fantasy world, but it seems like he really belongs there; he understands the language, and finds that he is a brave knight capable of sword-fighting, jousting, and spooking his enemies.

The story is wonderful, but the audiobook narration by Bronson Pinchot is absolutely marvelous. I am simply amazed by the narrator, as he alternates between multiple acce
Doc Opp
When I was about 25 I watched Bladerunner for the first time because so many of my friends raved about it. I was disappointed. Everything was so cliche. Later, I realized that at the time Bladerunner came out, nothing in it was cliche - but the movie was so trailblazing that everybody else copied what it did. The reason I didn't find it powerful was because I'd seen all those imitations, and so none of the amazing novelty of the original felt novel - it was too familiar.

That's how I felt reading
Good, fun old-fashioned fantasy. It came into being the same year as Lord of the Rings, and there's humor to get from the discrepancies between the two. The hero gets in a riddle game with a monster in this book too; but the riddles are less like cerebral antique rhymes and more like fifth grade obnoxious.

"What's green, grows around the house and has wheels?"
"Grass. I lied about the wheels."

That's really in the book. No joke.

This is cliche fantasy parody from 62 years ago - way before you'd expe
Althea Ann
Originally published in 1953, this book was selected for reprint as part of the "Fantasy Masterworks" series, so I thought I would check it out.

Holger Carlsen is a Danish-American engineer, who, while involved in a daring attempt to smuggle people out of Nazi-occupied Denmark, finds himself mysteriously transported to a medieval-esque land on the border of Faerie. He awakes naked, with no memory of how he arrived in this place - but finds a knight's steed and trappings sitting next to him, ready
Dan Higdon
Published about the same time as LoTR, this book draws much more on Frankish/Norman mythology (including King Arthur and Charlemagne) than it does on Saxon/Norse mythology (like LoTR does).

With that said, this book is an interesting read and a curious look at many fantasy conventions that shaped the world of the famous RPG, Dungeons&Dragons. For all you who wondered why D&D had so many non-Tolkien elements, this book (and Moorcock's "Elric" saga) might give you some answers.

It's a short
This is the first Poul Anderson fantasy book I've read, and it was enjoyably engaging. I looked forward to my next reading session with it, in spite of the fact that the book itself is in terrible condition. I received it as part of a big box of old, hand-me-down books, and my main concern was that pages might be missing. Fortunately that wasn't the case.

The lead character "wakes up" in a fantasy world, and discovers that he's recognized by the other characters. How he deals with a world where m
This book was too long on my to-read list, and I'm glad I finally got to it. It's hard to make a list of just how many authors this book influenced, but at a pinch:

Michael Moorcock - he's explicitly acknowledged the influence of this book on the Elric series, and clearly the Melniboneans stem from Anderson's Faerie


The Order of the Stick - The dwarf with the heavy brogue.

The Cross-time Engineer

After 60 years, this book still feels fairly modern. Some might adopt a "been there, done that" a
Paolo Zanella
Scritto all'inizio della carriera di Poul Anderson, questo romanzo è una divertente escursione nel fantasy europeo.<br />Molto diverso dal suo La Spada Spezzata, questo libro racconta una vicenda avventurosa e eroica in un mondo parallelo al nostro ma che con il nostro condivide molti aspetti.<br />L'attenzione dell'autore per il dettaglio storico, che raggiunge il suo culmine nel ciclo della Pattuglia del Tempo è qui meno evidente, sebbene abbondino i riferimenti alle tradizioni fan ...more

Holger Carlsen, giovane ingegnere danese timido ed impacciato, è all'apparenza una persona del tutto ordinaria, a parte la sua robusta taglia atletica. Nulla lascerebbe presupporre che egli sia il depositario del fato del cosmo e che lo attenda un destino eroico. Ma, nel corso di una delle sue azioni come partigiano contro i tedeschi durante la seconda guerra mondiale, Holger si ritrova sbalzato all'improvviso in un universo parallelo, in una terra fiabesca dove vigono le leggi della magia al po

Joseph Finley
Three Hearts and Three Lions is considered one of the classics of modern fantasy fiction. It contains all of the fundamental archetypes of the fantasy genre, and while it may seem cliché by today’s standards, it was original enough in 1953. Also, this novel is credited among the sources that influenced the creation of the role playing game Dungeons & Dragons. It’s easy to see why since the whole story plays out like a good old fashioned D&D campaign.

The protagonist of Three Hearts and Th
Lianne Pheno
En premier je pense qu'il est nécessaire de faire un Petit point culture:
Ce livre était à l'origine une novella publiée en 1953 qui a été ensuite étendue pour en faire un roman. Il a servi d'inspiration à Donjon & Dragon pour le système d'Alignement ( loyal, neutre ou chaotique). Et Michael Moorcock l'a cité comme sa source pour l'idée du combat entre Loi et Chaos, donc ce livre est en gros un ancêtre à Elric et a pas mal de romans ensuite.

L'histoire puise allègrement dans les légendes hist
Matthew Stewart
Poul Anderson's "Three Hearts and Three Lions" is hit-and-miss, an effort in which the sum isn't greater than its parts.

A man transported to another world.

An epic battle between Good and Evil.

A series of encounters with a witch, a dragon, a giant, a werewolf, a nixie, an army of cannibals and a troll en route to the final battle against Evil.

That should be a blast, right?


Anderson's novel is too dense. So much happens in the text that it results in a lack of gravitas or wonder.

The author al
I read the is almost 30 years ago. It was one of my father's many Poul Anderson books, and the only one I remembered much about the plot.

It turns out that many of the major plot points have become standard tropes over the years. (not that the basic story isn't somewhat a rip-off of other works.)

It's self-acknowledged borrowing of A Connecticut Yankee and the ideas of anyone who has ever dreamed of waking in the magical world as escapism from the mundane.

Basically anyone who has ever rolled a 20
A rather identical precursor to "Magic Kingdom for Sale - Sold" by Terry Brooks, this was written some 40 years earlier and is a comfortable and easy read, lowering my IQ by a mere handful of points.
Very episodic, but a great yarn. Been meaning to read this for quite a while; glad I picked this one to start the year off.
Damn, I loved this book when I was about 12. I don't want to read it again and risk spoiling the memory.
Sep 06, 2008 TheRose rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fantasy fans
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
Very interesting, well-written yarn.
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Goodreads Librari...: Please add cover and information 9 163 Nov 06, 2012 09:52AM  
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Pseudonym A. A. Craig, Michael Karageorge, Winston P. Sanders, P. A. Kingsley.

Poul William Anderson was an American science fiction author who began his career during one of the Golden Ages of the genre and continued to write and remain popular into the 21st century. Anderson also authored several works of fantasy, historical novels, and a prodigious number of short stories. He received numerous a
More about Poul Anderson...

Other Books in the Series

Operation Otherworld (5 books)
  • Operation Chaos (Operation Otherworld, #1)
  • Operation Luna (Operation Otherworld, #2)
  • A Midsummer Tempest
  • Operation Otherworld
Tau Zero The Broken Sword The Boat of a Million Years The High Crusade Trader to the Stars

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