Friday, 8 July 2016

Sailing North With Certain Spells

Poul Anderson, The Broken Sword (London, 1977), Chapter XXII.

Finding Jotunheim requires:

sailing north;
certain spells;
stout hearts and arms.

Lacking the spells, our mariners reach only the Arctic.

"They sailed steadily for three days and nights...
"Few words passed between them..." (pp. 155-156)

But some words passed:

"...even on the hardest passage, times will come when seamen find naught to do but sit and spin yarns. It staves off the loneliness."
-Poul Anderson & Midred Downey Broxon, The Demon Of Scattery (Ace Books, New York, 1980), p. 8.

I have tried to locate the moment in The Broken Sword when Mananaan MacLir recounts The Demon Of Scattery to Skafloc. Mananaan's narration begins on p. 11 of ...Scattery. He introduces it on p. 9, saying there that the event to be recounted had occurred nearly a hundred years previously. His telling of the story must occur on p. 156 of ...Sword. The event in question had involved the grandmother of the witch-queen Gunnhild. Thus, Anderson's Mother Of Kings, about Gunnhild, is set during the hundred years between ...Scattery and ...Sword. Thus, these works form an extremely loose trilogy.

We met Mananaan's father in The King Of Ys.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    I believe you erred in your rough chronological dating of THE BROKEN SWORD, THE DEMON OF SCATTERY, and MOTHER OF KINGS. It's my belief THE DEMON OF SCATTERY comes first, then THE BROKEN SWORD, and last MOTHER OF KINGS.

    Recall how unusually LONG Harald Fairhair, the Unifier of Norway, reigned (for over sixty years). Since the grandmother of Queen Gunnhild was a major character in THE DEMON OF SCATTERY, and her son was a friend of King Harald, who unified Norway by about AD 870, I would argue for putting THE DEMON OF SCATTERY first.


  2. Sean,
    I was puzzled by your comment. My argument does put SCATTERY first. Then I saw that I had put SCATTERY and SWORD in the wrong order in the 3rd last sentence. I have now corrected this.