Thursday, 9 June 2016

Mythical And Physical Geographies

Poul Anderson's War Of The Gods is yet another biographical novel because we first see its hero, Hadding, as a baby. It is also an incarnational novel. In Chapter I, we see the gods, including Njord. In Chapter II, we see the newly born Hadding who, although we do not know this yet, is an incarnation of Njord.

Chapter I presents mythical cosmography:

there are nine worlds in the Tree;
Vanaheim is west of Asgard;
Jotunheim is north of Midgard, which is encircled by sea.

Chapter II describes men traveling through the kind of wilderness that generated such a mythology:

"The path was hardly more than a game trail, writhing upward."
-Poul Anderson, War Of The Gods (Tor Books, New York, 1999), p. 16.

The trail is hemmed in by brush, beech, oak, fir and granite and surrounded by slopes, ridges and murky dells. Cold wind soughs through yellow leaves. Clouds move swiftly. A raven croaks. A lone hawk wheels above.

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