Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Odin In Anderson And Gaiman

Recently, I mentioned two parallels between Poul Anderson and Neil Gaiman:

an inn between the worlds;
their treatments of two particular plays by William Shakespeare.

A third is Odin as a character in fiction. As discussed in previous posts, Anderson presents:

the original of Odin (historical fiction);
a time traveler mistaken for Odin (science fiction);
in more than one work - the god, Odin (fantasy).

On p. 91 of The Sandman: Season Of Mists (New York, 1992), Gaiman and artist Kelley Jones (I think; several artists are credited for the volume) present five panels of Odin in Gladsheim. He is named:

the lord of the Aesir;
the gallows god;
the one-eyed king of Asgard;
the lord of the gallows;
Odin, the All-Father;

Two details are unexpected but appropriate:

when Odin's ravens, Huginn and Muninn, Thought and Memory, are away from him, gathering intelligence from the Nine Worlds, he can neither think nor remember;
"The floor of the high hall is mud scattered with rushes." (ibid.) - like the halls of Odin's worshipers.

pp. 92-93 recount the story of Loki bound beneath the snake. Gaiman writes a new story within Norse mythology, then shows the Norse myths coexisting and interacting with others, as Anderson does in The Broken Sword.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

THE GOLDEN SLAVE is the historical novel by Poul Anderson in which he speculated that "Odin" began as a great lord who was worshiped by his followers after his death.

And we find a Time Patrol agent in "The Sorrow of Odin the Goth," who, without him desiring it, came to be regarded as a god in disguise by fourth centry AD Goths.

And, of course, we see Odin as a "god" in THE BROKEN SWORD and HROLF KRAKI'S SAGA. And THE WAR OF THE GODS.

Altho some might argued that HROLF KRAKI'S SAGA was simply Poul Anderson's version of work done by others. Which he himself admitted was the case in his Introduction. Anderson drew together fragments from scattered sources, both sagas and Saxo Grammaticus, to piece together a more complete version of the legends of the early kings of Denmark.