Mike's Reviews > Three Hearts and Three Lions

Three Hearts and Three Lions by Poul Anderson
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Nov 13, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy

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 and by extension many other books in the "dark fantasy" genre. Having said that, this book is certainly not a part of the "dark fantasy" genre itself. It draws very heavily on European legends, in particular the romances of King Arthur and of Charlemange, but also Norse mythology. Where The Broken Sword (which Anderson wrote the following year) concentrates on inventing a sort of modernized Norse saga, 3 Hearts and 3 Lions more or less invents a modernized medieval romance. I still like the Broken sword a bit more, although I'd be more comfortable recommending this one to a younger reader. The pace is very rapid and the story is exciting, but more importantly the characters are all interesting and the world they inhabit is highly imaginative, so any fan of fantasy should give this a read.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
November 12, 2009 – Finished Reading
November 13, 2009 – Shelved
November 13, 2009 – Shelved as: fantasy

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Matt (new) - added it

Matt Ryan I read this years ago, in High School, and barely remember it. I've been aiming to get my hands on a copy, but haven't found one yet. I'm interested in how it compares to "The Broken Sword", another Anderson classic.


Mike Well, it is a fun read and definitely sheds some light on where Moorcock and Gygax got some ideas, but the Broken Sword is is better. If you liked the Broken Sword I'd recommend the Merman's Children and Hralf Krakis Saga and maybe War of the Gods over 3 Hearts. But I wouldn't say Anderson wrote a bad fantasy novel.


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