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The Broken Sword

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  2,448 ratings  ·  177 reviews
'The first great modern American fantasy' Baird Searles
Paperback, 274 pages
Published September 2002 by Gollancz / Orion (first published 1954)
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The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienThe Name of the Wind by Patrick RothfussThe Hobbit by J.R.R. TolkienMagician by Raymond E. FeistLegend by David Gemmell
Best Heroic Fantasy
49th out of 509 books — 703 voters
The Prose Edda by Snorri SturlusonRunemarks by Joanne HarrisThe Poetic Edda by AnonymousEaters of the Dead by Michael CrichtonThe Norse Myths by Kevin Crossley-Holland
Norse Mythology
10th out of 141 books — 260 voters

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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
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
A stolen baby is given a broken sword, for it’s been fated that a time will come when he’ll need it. A fantasy classic that, for many people, does everything right that Lord of the Rings does wrong.

When Imric the Elf Earl gets the opportunity to whisk away Orm the Strong’s first born son and replace him with a changeling, little could he imagine the thread the Norns were weaving for the boy’s future. And then, when the Aesir give the baby Skafloc a broken sword that must be reforged by a Jotun w
♍ichael Ƒierce
Sep 21, 2013 ♍ichael Ƒierce rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Lord Of The Rings, and elves


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
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
Wendell Adams
Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths Reviews

The Broken Sword is a modern Norse myth that both dazzles and disappoints with its tale of unwitting mortals caught in the web of gods.

When just a newborn, our hero Skafloc is snatched from his mother’s breast due to the machinations of a disgruntled witch, who hates the babe’s father. This crone tricks Imric, a mighty lord of the elf-folk, into substituting a half-elf, half-troll changeling named Valgard for Skafloc. Thereafter, the two babies grow up
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Ben Loory
"The evil done in the world was never all troll work," said Illrede quietly. "It seems to me that you have done a deed more wicked than any of mine in bringing that blade to earth again. Whatever his nature, which the Norns and not himself gave, no troll would do such a thing."
"No troll would dare!" sneered Skafloc, and rode in upon him.
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

3 stars

Imric the elf-earl takes a chance to leave a changeling in place of a human child. The action plays into the complex calculations of the Aesir, but with tragic consequences for others.

I've read a fair number of books by Poul Anderson, but somehow never really warmed to his somewhat clinical style. Still, I recalled this being considered a classic, so I thought I'd give it a try. Unfortunately, my opinion held true of this book as well. It has the scholarly, technic
I found out that this book was published at the same time as J.R.R. Tolkien'n books. It took about 10 pages for me to become thoroughly enthralled. Notice I said enthralled and not enchanted. A curious word "enthralled". There were "thralls" in the book. Its funny how words change over time and if you don't catch yourself you may not fully understand what the meaning was at the time. But I digress. In this time of Marvel comics its nice to get a proper refresher on the whole Norse God tradition ...more
3.0 to 3.5 stars

A 'history' of Faerie in the British Isles with respect to the tale of Skafloc. High fantasy or sword and sorcery but not really 'epic' fantasy like I'm used to reading. Many, many battle scenes between elves and trolls, and between Skafloc and his arch nemesis and changeling Valgard. The possessed sword that was broken appears but briefly in the beginning, but becomes the focus of the story once Skafloc's desperation forces its reforging.

I enjoyed The Broken Sword, but the endi
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
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nutshell: this unofficial sequel to the Hervarar saga tidies the place up just in time for Ragnarok.

Setting is Europe, wherein the ‘White Christ’ is pushing out all of the pagan deities (3). This background confrontation is well-handled, and has a great gloomy presentation to it: “The nymphs and the fauns and the very gods are less than dust. The temples stand empty, white under the sky, and bit by bit they crumble to ruin. And I wander alone in a foreign land, scorned by its gods and shunned by

Très bonne surprise que ce roman.

La couverture (qui rappelle les pires heures du jeu de rôle ou des livres dont vous êtes le héros des années 80) me faisait craindre le pire, et je suis entré dans ce livre un peu à reculons.

Donc, ce roman est sorti en 1954, la même année que le Seigneur des anneaux, et avec une optique assez proche.

C'est aussi de la fantasy, également basée sur les grands mythes européens (nordiques et celtes notamment), mais là où Tolkien ancre son récit dans un monde différent
This book was a gift from my favourite ladies, who sadly are not on this website, but the idea came especially from one of them, because I told her that I love mythology, and then she told me that she had loved this book and she wanted me to love it too, so on my bithday this was the surprise!

Elves, trolls, vikings, magical lands... I have to admit that at first I was more than lost, because although I love mythology (in this case is the nordic one!) I never found the occasion to read about it
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
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
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
Mar 21, 2010 Raj rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: fantasy
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
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
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Sci-fi and Heroic...: The Broken Sword Discussion 34 38 Jul 27, 2012 11:13AM  
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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...
Tau Zero The Boat of a Million Years Three Hearts and Three Lions The High Crusade Trader to the Stars

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“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.” 2 likes
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