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DanSchwent

Dantastic Book Reviews

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The Broken Sword - Poul Anderson Imric the Elf Earl steals a human baby and leaves a changeling, Valgard, in his place. Little does he know the changeling will start the worst war the elves have ever seen. But what of Skafloc, the child that was taken, and the broken sword given to him as a baby by the Aesir?

I originally picked this up because Michael Moorcock frequently cites it as an influence on his Elric saga. Upon reading it, I can see what he means. The Broken Sword has a lot of the epic feel of the Elric saga, complete with a huge war at the end, a sword with a mind of its own, and some tragedy.

The characters were interesting but not developed all that well. You knew from the beginning that Valgard would turn out bad and Skafloc would have to put him down at some point. While a lot of the story was predictable, the ending was a surprise.

One aspect of the book that I really liked was Anderson's elven culture, much more like Moorcock's Melniboneans than Tolkien's elves. The elves are almost amoral and don't just act like humans with pointy ears. They're more like the beautiful yet cruel faeries of some tales.

Anderson draws from Norse myth, as well as Irish and English stories, to craft his saga. He manages an epic feel that many writers don't achieve in several phone-book sized volumes. The two major campaigns both had an end of the world kind of feel to them. I'd say that while this isn't the best fantasy I've ever read, it's a must read for fantasy fans due to the influence it's had on the books that have come afterward.