Best 1973 Adventures (3)
October 7, 2018
One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1973 adventure novels. Happy 45th anniversary!
Poul Anderson’s fantasy adventure Hrolf Kraki’s Saga.
What W.H. Auden once said of the author of the Lord of the Rings trilogy — “Tolkien is fascinated with the whole Northern thing” — is equally true of Poul Anderson, whose Scandinavian-inflected fantasy novels Three Hearts and Three Lions (1953) and The Broken Sword (1954) deserve to be (but are not) at least as well-known as his celebrated Golden Age sci-fi novels. Hrolf Kraki’s Saga is a multi-generational tale, pieced together from various sagas and elaborated upon by the author, which eventually features as its protagonist a legendary 6th-century Danish king. Hrolf Kraki assembles a band of warriors, including Bodvar Bjarki, a were-bear (!), and takes them along as he seeks recompense — from Adhils, King of the Swedes — for the death of his father. Although they survive rigged tests of their prowess, and open conflict with Adhil’s men, they offend Odin — and Hrolf loses his luck in battle. A few years later, when one of his sub-kings (aided by a half-elven witch) raises an army against him, will Hrolf and his men survive?
Fun facts: First published, in paperback form, as an installment in the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series, edited by Lin Carter. Someone should make a movie of this yarn; the characters are amazing.
JOSH GLENN’S *BEST ADVENTURES* LISTS: BEST 250 ADVENTURES OF THE 20TH CENTURY | 100 BEST OUGHTS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST RADIUM AGE (PROTO-)SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TEENS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TWENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST THIRTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST GOLDEN AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FORTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FIFTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SIXTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST NEW WAVE SCI FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SEVENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST EIGHTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST DIAMOND AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST NINETIES ADVENTURES (in progress) | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | NOTES ON 21st-CENTURY ADVENTURES.