Nocover-blank-133x176
The Broken Sword
 
by
Poul Anderson
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Broken Sword

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  1,875 ratings  ·  131 reviews
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 Scafloc, a human child kidnapped and raised by the elves, can hope to persuade Bolverk the ice-giant to make Tyrfing whole again. But S...more
Hardcover
Published 1977 by P/B (first published 1954)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Stephen
Photobucket
THIS JUST IN....
In a stunning development certain to send shockwaves through the world of Fantasy Literature, The Lord of the Rings, long considered by many to be the "Greatest Epic Fantasy" of all time, has been bitch-slapped and bitch-smote by Poul Anderson's 1954 dark fantasy epic, The Broken Sword. Anderson's story is now loudly demanding at least a share of the top honors. Such recognition would be welcome and long overdue according to fantasy icon Michael Moorcock who believes that Ander...more
Keely
Every young medium, if it wishes to be taken seriously as an art form, must find a way to present mature stories. Movies began to take themselves seriously in the thirties, comic books began their struggle to elevate themselves in the late seventies, and videogames have been trying to achieve greater depth for the past few years.

Yet, like any rise from adolescence to adulthood, this reaching for maturity is always an awkward period. It is marked by overcompensation, by the striking of certain po...more
Michael Fierce
Sep 21, 2013 Michael Fierce rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: fans of Lord Of The Rings, and elves

description

There are hundreds of good fantasy books, several that can be considered classics. Only a few can be compared in any fashion to the The Lord of the Rings. For me, this is one of them.

It may not be as grand or as ambitious as LOTR, but The Broken Sword is recognized, by several in the know, as an unheralded classic by Poul Anderson, a major fantasy & science-fiction master, and this book, a personal favorite of mine.

The Broken Sword was first published in 1954, the same year as The Fellowshi...more
Dan Schwent
Imric the Elf Earl steals a human baby and leaves a changeling, Valgard, in his place. Little does he know the changeling will start the worst war the elves have ever seen. But what of Skafloc, the child that was taken, and the broken sword given to him as a baby by the Aesir?

I originally picked this up because Michael Moorcock frequently cites it as an influence on his Elric saga. Upon reading it, I can see what he means. The Broken Sword has a lot of the epic feel of the Elric saga, complete w...more
Mike (the Paladin)
Here's another where I wish we had either a 10 star system or a half star system. This book is better than a simple 3 star might indicate. The problem is that I don't like it as much as many 4 star books...or many of the books I've rated four(4) stars. I'll note again here that I'm not trying to rate this or any book on things like, quality alone. I suppose I basically rate on what I think of as overall enjoyability.

This book is exceedingly well written. Based on several types or areas of mythol...more
Jonathan
The Broken Sword is a imagined mythology by Poul Anderson in the Norse style. It features poetry and adopts the style of the Norse myths I loved as a child. For that very reason I give it a four star rating and only because of the tragic nature of its plot do I avoid giving it the full five stars.

This is an excellent introduction for anyone interested in looking at the style of Norse mythology. I admit it's not perfect but Anderson apes the traditional Norse style very well while also creating a...more
David
This novel is a fantasy that blends Western religion with Norse mythology. An elf kidnaps the young baby Scafloc, and in his place substitutes a changeling named Valgard. Because of his inhumanity, Valgard becomes evil, and does some really bad things. He takes refuge among the trolls, where he becomes a feared warrior, bent on revenge on the elves.

The story is dark, with not a trace of light-heartedness. It is common practice for "good" Vikings to go off and pillage, as do most of the other rac...more
Nikki
I was really excited about reading The Broken Sword, because when I first toyed with the idea of buying a book by Poul Anderson -- this was actually the first I bought, it's just took me longer to read -- I realised how closely it was based on the style of the Norse sagas I've studied. It draws on the mythology, of course, and the path of curses and thwarted love and raiding echoes that of the sagas, but it also echoes their form: the narration, especially to begin with, is very much like a saga...more
Jim
I re-read this due to my friend Stephen's glowing review. I'm glad I did. The mythology was excellent. It's been a lot of years since I've read anything by Anderson, although I liked his books quite a bit when I was younger. I think I bought this in the late 70's, have had it around ever since & am glad I hung on to it. It was a fabulous read, a type of fantasy I rarely see any more. Very reminiscent of Beowulf - I know of no higher praise. I think one reason I didn't rate it higher before w...more
Apatt
Poul Anderson is an authors' author. Wait, I already said that in my review of Tau Zero. Now I will talk about his versatility, The Broken Sword is nothing like his sci-fi books that I have read before, and it is so very different from Tau Zero that it is hard to believe the same author wrote both books. I can not imagine Arthur C. Clarke writing this, or even Heinlein, whose only fantasy Glory Road is still very Heinlein in style.

I believe the Broken Sword is one of only two fantasy novels that...more
Contrarius
This is quite a striking book. Epic Fantasy, with a capitol Ep. And this isn't your standard rainbows and happy endings Epic, either -- this is old-time-religion, blood-and-guts, Ring-of-the-Niebelung, Bad Sh*t Happens Epic. The Broken Sword was written with an Epically old-fashioned, Epically dramatic, Epically romantic prose style, and intentionally stole ideas from many other epics that preceded it (as, of course, did many of those earlier epics themselves). And it's got everything a good Epi...more
Alex
The Broken Sword is a book I'd recommend with absolutely no hesitation if you like Michael Moorcock or fantasy with a rawer, more down to earth classic edge. The story is simple, a straightforward and unpretentious and the book is short ad to the point, a human child is stolen and sent to live with the elves and replaced by a changeling who becomes bitter when he learns of what has happened. The two brothers end up on a railroad to a showdown; throw a cursed sword, an incestuous relationship and...more
Bondama
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rhys
Having read Three Hearts and Three Lions many years ago, I knew that Poul Anderson was a good writer, a great writer in fact; but I wasn't yet aware that he was an utterly brilliant writer. Now I am.

The Broken Sword is essentially the archetypal fantasy novel. It has Nordic roots and a Viking spirit. It has elves, trolls, dragons; it has feasts, battles, duels; it has passion, love, witchery, betrayal, stratagems, heroism, recklessness, madness, fate... It even has leprechauns.

By themselves, suc...more
Reni
Don't you just love tales about evil swords? I know I do, oh, yes, I do!

There are your Stormbringers of classic fantasy and the Frostmournes of contemporary pop-culture, and I love them all. There is something so wonderfully tragic about the hero's last desperate means of defense eventually turning on them. Anderson's The Broken Sword is probably the book that popularised this trope in modern fantasy. The book's influences on Moorcock's Elric at least are hard to deny.

But this is only one reas...more
Lyn
How is this book not more popular? Written four years after The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and published the same year as Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, Poul Anderson’s The Broken Sword is a fantasy masterpiece. Combining Norse myth and legend, English and World myth, with historical fact and setting, this tells a legendary tale economically and with a fable-like tone. Adventurous and entertaining as well, the only reason I can think that it has been less successful than its Englis...more
Michael Thorn
I loved this book. The mythology was amazing. It did a great job of incorporating the old myths into a fantasy story. It does have a fairy tale aspect to it, and I would have liked more detailed action, but it's still pretty good. Also, my major gripe with the book is about 3/4 of the way through they tease you with this list of awesome adventures that the hero goes on, and it's like, "but, we don't have time to talk about any of those." Like fuck you, do not tease me with this awesomeness. Also...more
Raj
Although not a big fantasy fan, I very much enjoyed this tale of swords and sorcery with its nordic gods steeped in England. It's the contemporary of The Lord of the Rings, published in the same year as Fellowship and it has a similar feel to it, down to the use of verse, although this feels 'harder' than LOTR, with more of an edge to it. Anderson is certainly a versatile writer, spanning the spectrum from heroic fantasy (this book) to hard science fiction (Tau Zero, which I read a couple of mon...more
Neale
If Poul Anderson had written only 'The Broken Sword', he would be remembered now as one of the greatest masters of dark fantasy. The book was published at the same time as 'Lord of the Rings', but really there's no comparison: 'The Broken Sword' stands alone for the single-minded bleakness of its fantastic vision - for its exhilarating beauty and unlikeability (in the best sense of the word). Now wonder it was a failure.

Anderson learned his lesson. He went on to forge a moderately successful car...more
Stuart
The Broken Sword is one of Poul Anderson's earlier works and in the introduction to the edition published some twenty years after the first publication he apologizes for the book's roughness. But it's this very raw, violent roughness that makes the book so great.

Mr. Anderson's later fantasy works are great for their high romance and their conscientious self-distance. They're well crafted high-adventure tales that wink at the reader occasionally and to great effect. They're wonderful, but they la...more
Alex
I've not read much fantasy - Tolkien mostly - unless you count Terry Pratchett's Discworld series or the Laxdæla saga, so I can't critique this book amongst its peers as a work of fantasy.

I hadn't been too impressed with Tolkien and had read somewhere that The Broken Sword apparently exhibited strength in all the places I felt were weakest (for me at least) in The Lord of the Rings.

To be fair, after reading both, you can't really compare them. They're apples and oranges.

I loved The Broken Swor...more
Paul
I first heard of Poul Anderson when James Cameron's AVATAR was released. Some people said that AVATAR was very similar to a short story that Anderson wrote called CALL ME JOE and I read it. They really are kind of similar. They both have a paraplegic who controls the body of an alien with his mind through some advanced remote control thing. Still I can see how James Cameron might have thought of the idea for AVATAR without having heard of CALL ME JOE.

Anyway, I was reading THE LORD OF THE RINGS a...more
Lexxie
Aug 29, 2013 Lexxie marked it as might-read-1-day  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lexxie by: Michael Fierce
Shelves: mythology, fantasy
I love norse mythology, elves and Beowulf, so when I read Michael's review I just couldn't help but add The Broken Sword to my massive list of books I'd like to read.
James
Dec 14, 2007 James rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Adolescents and adults
Shelves: fantasy, mythology
A dark, stark representation of some classic Northern European mythology; like a bleaker Tolkien making a Norse edda more accessible to a modern audience.
Charles
My favorite Poul Anderson book. A wonderful, wonderful fantasy read.
Ryan
In The Broken Sword, Poul Anderson mines the same Nordic/British myths and folklore that Tolkien did, and tells a rousing, tragic adventure. An infant is born to a Viking warrior and his Christianized family, but a proud and haughty elf lord takes the child and leaves a changeling in his place. Thus, Skafloc grows up among the elves and learns their ways, while the half-troll-half-elf Valgard is raised as human, but becomes a savage, unruly warrior.

The plot isn’t too complex: the two warriors, w...more
An Odd1
X-rated casual pagan violence and lust fulfilled.
"Here ends the saga of Skafloc Elf-Foster" p274, a lilting Greek-style tragedy, rhymes within a tale of death, deceit, betrayal, vengeance, regret, sorrow, and doom, hard to "Like". Early Christians still worship Norse pantheon, so before a baby baptism, elf lord Imric steals new son of Viking Orm. Imric "did what was needful", lay with a troll princess gone mad after 900 years imprisonment, "walked nine times widdershins" p12, and Gora bore fier...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Jul 22, 2013 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Fantasy Fans
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: A Reader's Guide to Fantasy
This is a tale of faerie--of elves and changelings in the age of Vikings and dealing with creatures of Norse myth in the rhythms of the sagas. In this Foreward, Anderson writes of how elves had become a thing diminished in grandeur and stature:

In our day, J. R. R. Tolkien has restored the elves to something of what they formerly were, in his enchanting Ring cycle. However, he chose to make them not just beautiful and learned; they are wise grave, honorable, kindly embodiments of good will toward...more
Tanabrus
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ctgt
Classic old school fantasy. I almost bumped this up a star because I liked the fact that Anderson packed so much into a small book(just over 200 pages).

We have humans, elves, trolls, vikings, goblins and imps to a lesser degree, a witch or two, a changeling sired from a troll kept captive 900 years, shape shifters, Odin, giants, England, Scotland, a broken sword, magic, incest, Christianity, sea battles, some verses here and there

Who dares burst
the mound, and bid me
rise from death
by runes a
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Sci-fi and Heroic...: The Broken Sword Discussion 34 36 Jul 27, 2012 11:13AM  
  • The Well of the Unicorn
  • The First Book of Lankhmar
  • The Emperor of Dreams
  • Mistress of Mistresses
  • Gloriana
  • Black Gods and Scarlet Dreams
  • The Green Pearl and Madouc (Lyonesse, #2-3)
  • The Complete Compleat Enchanter
  • Darkness Weaves
  • Darker Than You Think
  • Time and the Gods
  • The Conan Chronicles: Volume 1: The People of the Black Circle (Fantasy Masterworks, #8)
  • The Dragon Waiting
  • Voice of Our Shadow
  • The Mabinogion Tetralogy
  • A Voyage to Arcturus
32278
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
More about Poul Anderson...
Tau Zero The Boat of a Million Years The High Crusade Three Hearts and Three Lions Trader to the Stars

Share This Book

“Happier are all men than the dwellers in Faerie – or the gods, for that matter…Better a life like a falling star, bright across the dark, than a deathlessness that can see naught above or beyond itself…the day draws nigh when Faerie shall fade, the Erlking himself shrink to a woodland sprite and then to nothing, and the gods go under. And the worst of it is, I cannot believe it wrong that the immortals will not live forever.” 1 likes
More quotes…