Wednesday, 6 July 2016
Darker Elves And Stranger Beings
Pictish elves are descended from elves, trolls, stolen women and "...still older folk..." (p. 96) If such interbreeding is possible, how do the various breeds remain distinct? Their mixed ancestry makes these Pictish elves shorter, heavier and darker "...than true elves..." (p. 95) So they are not true elves? Anderson seems here to be invoking the Eddaic distinction between light and dark elves although the latter are thought to be dwarves.
There are other strange beings:
elves who are master smiths with some dwarf blood, many descended from Odin or Wayland, and fighting, like Thor, with hammers;
"green-haired, white-skinned sea folk..." (p. 96), who maintained a fog for dampness on land (are these also a kind of elves?);
"...a few rustic half-gods whom the Romans had brought and afterwards abandoned..." (ibid.);
"...shy, flitting forest elves..." (ibid.)
Whereas Poul Anderson retells the stories of Hadding and Hrolf Kraki, he writes a sequel to the story of Tryfing and, uniquely among his Viking books, makes the Norse supernatural beings coexist with every other national pantheon. Thus, The Broken Sword is more akin to Neil Gaiman's The Sandman and American Gods than to Anderson's own War Of The Gods or Hrolf Kraki's Saga. Immigrants bring their gods with them but can then abandon them - so there can be both half-gods brought by the Romans and "American gods" brought from Eurasia.