Saturday, 22 September 2012

Peace And War

 Poul Anderson's War Of The Gods (New York, 1999) shows not only wars and happy endings, with the hero marrying the king's daughter whom he has rescued, but also what follows: long years of peace, idle warriors longing for a return to military campaigns and some marital conflict between hero and heroine.

Hadding leads a fleet that harries the Wends and returns with booty because:

"...he could not well keep strength in being if he never used it." (p. 229)

Eventually, Hadding's peace is broken. Anderson shows how an outlaw with a big enough following may challenge a king, law breaker potentially becoming law maker.

Anderson's readers become used to noting what he is doing with language, particularly in the rhythm. In an earlier book, much of the dialogue was blank verse sometimes ending with a rhyme despite being laid out as prose. When told that the outlaw Tosti is leading an invasion, Hadding comments:

" 'We have heard of him before...Soon the world will hear no more.' " (p. 238)

Readers expecting only prose might miss this rhyming couplet.

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