Nikki's Reviews > Three Hearts and Three Lions

Three Hearts and Three Lions by Poul Anderson
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Jun 15, 11

bookshelves: fantasy, based-on-myth-saga-etc, arthurian
Read on June 15, 2011

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 though I'm more impressed, I think, with what he did with the Norse influence on The Broken Sword, I think I liked this one more. Still, I shouldn't really judge until I've finished The Broken Sword, and I just promptly looked up the titles of his other fantasy novels.

What did I love about this? I noticed how influential it seems to have been, seeing elements I've seen elsewhere (for example, going to another world and turning out to be the champion of it, and the way the two worlds impact on each other, reminded me of Stephen Lawhead's Paradise War books). I was impressed by the fact that it took the Matter of France for the backdrop: I think I've only read one other non-medieval text which drew on the stories of Charlemagne, at least in a way that I recognised. I love the Matter of Britain, but it does get used an awful lot. There was a blend of fairytale type mythology here, of course, including at least one aspect from the Matter of Britain, but that the central characters were strongly linked to the Matter of France struck me as interesting.

I quite liked the way it referenced science and literature from our world, too, e.g. when fighting the dragon, the blade made of magnesium, etc.

I suppose now it does read as something dated -- more so than his contemporary, Tolkien, given that he mentions Nazism and the like -- but I loved it all the same.
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