Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Percheron Etc

Poul Anderson, Three Hearts And Three Lions (London, 1977), Chapter One.

"The animal was gigantic, a stallion the size of a Percheron but with more graceful build, sleek and black as polished midnight. It was not tethered, though an elaborate fringed pair of reins hung from a headstall chased with silver and arabesques. On its back was a saddle, high in pommel and cantle..." (p. 14)

Having googled "Percheron," I now understand the significance of a stallion the size of one.

Holger dons the armor and rides the horse. He seeks hospitality from an old woman called Gerd who sounds like a fairy tale witch. They speak in a language that he does not recognize but nevertheless understands. She claims to live "...by the edge of the world." (p. 18) That might be literally true.

If this is a flat Earth, then how did it come into existence? Cosmos-forming processes would have to be entirely different. The flat earth of Narnia was directly created, sung into existence, by Aslan. There are some parallels between Three Hearts And Three Lions and The Lion, the Witch And The Wardrobe - apart from a leonine element in both titles, which I have only just noticed. Tolkien elaborately explains how the directly created flat Middle Earth became our round Earth. I suppose that a flat Earth has a place in our collective imagination. In Anderson's The Broken Sword, a ship leaves Midgard and enters Jotunheim by sailing North.


S.M. Stirling said...

It's a common misperception that knight's horses were gigantic. Horses specifically bred to carry men-at-arms were usually big, but not huge, and their conformation was more or less like an Irish Hunter or Hanoverian Warmblood today -- they needed to be fast, and reasonably agile. By contrast the draught breeds are designed for pulling power. At the (early 1950's) date Poul was writing THREE HEARTS AND THREE LIONS (which is a masterpiece), the details weren't commonly known.

Also, armor wasn't that heavy. A complete suit of 15th-century plate weighed about 60lbs (say 30kg); a mail hauberk of the type Holger finds with his horse and gear would be a bit lighter. A Norman-style kite shield would weigh around 10-15 pounds (7kg). Swords were two pounds or a bit less. Modern soldiers carry more weight, and it isn't as well distributed; you could do acrobatics in armor.

Paul Shackley said...

Mr Stirling,
Both the Martian surface as presented in science fiction and the past as presented in historical fiction change as knowledge increases.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Dear Mr. Stirling,

Granted that a strong, trained, and experienced knight or man at arms could wear 60 lbs. of armor for hours, we do see mention in your own books that armor could still be WEARING. That is, hours of use and/or fighting in armor would wear any soldier down. To say nothing of how hot such men soon would be if the weather was warm!

But, of course you know that! And, for that matter, armor has been making something of a comeback, made from materials like Kevlon (or Kevlar?). Designed to give soldiers SOME protection from small arms and even explosives.