Poul Anderson Has Long Been Known For His Love Affair With The Legends And Myths Of The Great Norse Heroes Coordinating, Translating, Re Telling The Scattered Heroic Literature Could Only Be The Work Of A Scholar And A Lover Of The Genre That Mr Anderson Also Happens To Be A Talented Writer Is Our Great Good Luck Ballantine Books Adult Fantasy Series Is Proud To Present HROLF KRAKI S SAGA, A Keening, Blood Rimed Tale Of Men Who Walked Like Gods heroic adventuring in the over the top world of the Norse and it was mostly grand virile men, vivacious women mighty warriors, stupendous feats great valor, dastardly conniving stalwart companions, judas brethren capricious gods, cruel fae this is a somewhat updated telling of a mighty family saga filled with many extended families sagas I must admit and the reason 4 stars instead of 5 to growing bored mid book the repetitive nature of so many personage s tales grew tedious until finally truly getting to the title namesake s story, which was violently, tragically, wonderfully lived this stuff is the grim and the dark I enjoy and findappealing and authentic so much of the bounty of life diabolical and divine is found in these tellings unlike the foul grimdark, which is filled with only the diabolically dark which are muchrealistic in depictions of man s heart for every dozen selfish evil followers, there are those great beings who rise above the filth and inspire hope and belief and yes, heroism Anderson delivers on a wonderful tradition of the lore of heroes. Poul Anderson s retelling of Hrolf Kraki s Saga didn t fill me with an obsessive enthusiasm like Three Hearts and Three Lions did, or like The Broken Sword did Part of that is my familiarity with the story, I think Three Hearts and Three Lions and The Broken Sword surprised me Hrolf Kraki s Saga is relatively faithful to its source material, even near quoting it in places, though it putsflesh on the rather spare saga style of the original versions, and gets further into characters feelings and motivations.Poul Anderson s introduction is helpful, too, contextualising the story a little and explaining his decisions for the frame story of a tenth century female storyteller, etc.The style he used in The Broken Sword would ve beenappropriate here, in a sense, since this is a retelling of a Norse saga but it would have rendered it somewhat pointless, as the point was to put flesh on the bones I think it worked very well I was heart broken for Yrsa and Helgi, and I loved Bjarki and Hrolf It made the characterscomprehensible, and less ambiguous, and therefore probablyaccessible for readers who remodern in sensibility and not interested in the kind of narration typical in Norse sagas.It didn t blow me away, like I said, but it s still well worth reading particularly if you re interested in Hrolf Kraki but deterred by saga style and the difficulty of fitting the whole story together and understanding why everything happens as it does As Poul Anderson says, Hrolf Kraki is a Norse King Arthur figure, or a Charlemagne, in a way The Matter of the Norse But I suppose in a way the Matter of the Norse would involve Sigurd, considering how that story has survived in comparison. Poul Anderson s Hrolf Kraki s Saga is an excellent retelling of various Norse saga In the book s Foreword, Anderson explains that this book is his attempt at reconstructing the saga from various fragmentary sources Anderson filled in gaps and tried to reconcile contradictions in the source materials The titular Hrolf Kraki plays a large role in the tale, but the book isthan a mere biography, as Hrolf comes in late in the book This book is a sprawling, multi generational tale that includes the typical Norse battle scenes mixed in with some mythology and eldritch magic and sorcery I recommend this book to readers who enjoyed books like The Long Ships and Anderson s The Broken Sword, and obviously to those who like a good Norse saga. This retelling of the Danish Sagas by Poul Anderson is very true to the original, even to the point of starting generations before the title character comes on the scene No one lives in a vacuum and one hero s life has roots in the past.Generations of betrayals and heroics led up to the point where Hrolf appears, and they all have a part in making his destiny Our benefit is having someone like Poul Anderson to make the legends accessible to our time I confess, though, that I liked Three Hearts and Three Lions better. Thoroughly remarkable from the start Hrolf Kraki is a central figure but one at the center of a tapestry to understand his story is to must understand his father, mother, and sister view spoiler hint three roles for two people hide spoiler Poul Anderson brings this doom haunted saga to life with modern language that still manages to capture the original spirit and cadence. This translation of Hrolf Kraki s saga was given to me as a battered paperback by a friend I d only met once at that time I was sitting in a Shari s restaurant with my family, celebrating a baptism, when Sean Glenn walked up to me and handed me a book You ll like this, he told me.Oh, and I did I This is a tale that tells you what the characters did, and what happened It is up to the reader to supply what they felt and what they thought For me, that meant it was a total immersion experience.The gift of a book that does that to you never a thing to be forgotten 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 muchthan 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 Arthuractually 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. 3rd, maybe 4th time through this book A great retelling of the myth of the tragic Viking King Dark, sad and beautiful Desperate battles, bitter feuds, doomed love and the end of everything.