Sunday, 26 June 2016

The Broken Sword, Chapter I


Four generations. We are concerned about Valgard but must first be informed about his antecedents. Asmund and Ketil are Jutlanders but Orm moves to the English Danelaw where Valgard is born.

The prudent Orm plans to build a church for atonement of his sins but also offers:

to Thor in midwinter;
to Frey for good harvests in spring;
to Odin and Aegir for luck at sea.

That covers everything: winter, spring, land, sea and the hereafter?

So far, we might have been reading historical fiction. However, Chapter II begins:

"Imric the elf-earl rode out by night to see what had happened in the lands of men." (p. 18)

We are reading heroic fantasy - although Anderson claims in his Foreword that the text rationalizes magic as mental control of external phenomena. That would make the novel sf. However, I think that the "heroic fantasy" label sticks.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Iow, THE BROKEN SWORD is another family chronicle or saga, focusing on Orm and his children. And to complicate matters, we have two versions of THE BROKEN SWORD, the original text pub. in 1954 and Anderson's revision of 1971. Which version do you have?

Orm's naive syncretism or mixing of Norse paganism with Christianity did not sit well with his deeply convinced Christian wife! Their arguments about this led to him being absent at the crucial moment when his son Skafloc was born.


Paul Shackley said...


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Thanks! I think, if you ever get a copy of the original 1954 text of THE BROKEN SWORD, you will find it is very different from the later revision. The basic plot remains the same, but much of what Anderson considered needless "wordbrush" was removed and he improved the more technical descriptions of how weapons were used, etc.

I forgot to add to my first note here that if the "magic" seen in THE BROKEN SWORD was mostly due to using the mind to manipulate matter, then it reminds me of the technological "magic" seen in the two OPERATION books.