Terry 's Reviews > Hrolf Kraki's Saga

Hrolf Kraki's Saga by Poul Anderson
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Apr 02, 12

bookshelves: favorites, fantasy, that-northern-thing
Recommended for: lovers of Nordic myth
read count: 3

I find Poul Anderson pretty uneven. I tend to either really like his books, or be left cold by them. I also tend to enjoy his fantasy much more than his science fiction (for which he is probably better known). This book is obviously in the former camp. For my money it's probably his best book (even better than _The Broken Sword_ or _Three Hearts & Three Lions_ which mine a similar vein). In essence this is a novelisation of the fragmentary saga tales of the Danish King Hrolf Kraki. Pulling together elements from various sources, Anderson creates a unified tale of a Nordic King Arthur...actually going back a generation in order to set the stage for this tragic tale.

I think that Anderson's greatest achievement here is his ability to convincingly portray the world of the mythic North. He gives us vivid details that truly bring it to life and the harsh grandeur of Midgard is effectively protrayed as equal parts the land of men and playground of the gods. It's a work that, for me at least, really captures that "Northern thing" that so enamoured Tolkien and Lewis and satisfies me when I'm hungering for such a thing myself.

The characters are sufficiently mythic, yet still flawed and human enough to hold the reader's interest and the encroachment of the supernatural into the human world is never overdone, displaying the characteristic wildness and unpredictability of the sagas from which they come.
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