Saturday, 22 February 2014

Brave To Be A King II

Poul Anderson, The Guardians Of Time (New York, 1981).

To convey an appreciation of Poul Anderson's prose, I must again quote some sections from a rather lengthy passage:

"Overhead he saw a painted roof, where a youth killed a bull, and the Bull was the Sun and the Man." (p. 104)

(This Zoroastrian/Mithraic image is like a distorted echo. The sacrificial killing and the solemn identifications remind us of Christian theology but we expect a Lamb, not a Bull.)

"Beyond columns and vines trod guards in dragon skin mailcoats...faces like carved wood." (ibid.)

(That cannot be literal dragon skin. This is historical science fiction, not heroic fantasy.)

"Beyond the city walls lay harvest fields where peasants readied sacrifice to an Earth Mother who was old in this land when the Aryans came, and that was in a dark, predawn past. High over the walls floated the mountains, haunted by wolf, lion, boar and demon." (ibid.)

(Again, there are no literal demons but a time traveler has no difficulty in imaginatively entering into the ancient world-view.)

"It was too alien a place. Everard had thought himself hardened to otherness, but now he wanted suddenly to run and hide, up to his own century and his own people and a forgetting." (ibid.)

But he can do that. Imagine being able to travel between ancient Persia and the twentieth century.

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