A While back I started a new blog post series here on Mighty Thor JRS, Definitive Sword and Sorcery. It has done quite well so I thought I would expand a little and include some other sub-genres and authors I love. Which led to some Definitive Weird Fiction post just in time for the Halloween season. Now I think I am going with some Definitive Heroic Fantasy. At least what is definitive in my opinion. I will spotlight some of the best authors and books fantasy has ever known. I can’t wait to share these amazing books, authors, and the amazing cover art and artist. For this post I am going to go with The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson.
I write these post as a spotlight or introduction on these authors and books, so when I have to sit and think what is definitive it can get somewhat overwhelming. But in this case I think it was pretty easy. When I think of heroic fantasy so much comes to mind but to me the first and most definitive example has to be The Broken Sword.
Originally published in 1954 this novel has all the elements necessary for great heroic fantasy. A unknowing or unwilling hero, a villain of unspeakable vileness, epic battles of world changing proportions, and of course a magic sword! With some Norse mythology mixed in what is not to love. When I think Definitive Heroic Fantasy I think of this book, so I had to do a post on this book first.
I know there seems to be confusion at times on all of these sub-genres. It seems that Heroic Fantasy and Sword and Sorcery are very closely linked. I have to admit I get confused myself most of the time. So I hope I am doing okay at this. I just know I like what I like no matter what people call it. I have had a blast with these post!
I have to do a ERB post next, I love me some John Carter. Definitive Sword and Planet?, I guess I will figure it out.
Thanks for taking a look at my post!
As I become more and more disenchanted with modern fantasy and modern fantasy authors, I find myself going back to the books and authors that got me into fantasy in the first place. So I decided to shed some light on these books and authors.
If you have some comments, suggestions, recommendations, let me know!
Are you are a modern author that writes books/stories like the ones I will spotlight here? Get in touch. I want to work with you and spread the word. There has to be something new out that I can read and love. Short stories, collections, magazines, whatever! Let me know what you got and are working on.
James – Mighty Thor JRS
Check out my other “Definitive” post:
cover by Boris Vallejo
This acclaimed fantasy classic of men, elves, and gods is at once breathtakingly exciting and heartbreakingly tragic.
Published the same year as The Fellowship of the Ring, Poul Anderson’s novel The Broken Sword draws on similar Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon sources. In his greed for land and power, Orm the Strong slays the family of a Saxon witch—and for his sins, the Northman must pay with his newborn son. Stolen by elves and replaced by a changeling, Skafloc is raised to manhood unaware of his true heritage and treasured for his ability to handle the iron that the elven dare not touch. Meanwhile, the being who supplanted him as Orm’s son grows up angry and embittered by the humanity he has been denied. A pawn in a witch’s vengeance, the creature Valgard will never know love, and consumed by rage, he will commit a murderous act of unspeakable vileness.
It is their destiny to finally meet on the field of battle—the man-elf and his dark twin, the monster—when the long-simmering war between elves and trolls finally erupts with a devastating fury. And only the mighty sword Tyrfing, broken by Thor and presented to Skafloc in infancy, can turn the tide in a terrible clashing of faerie folk that will ultimately determine the fate of the old gods. This edition contains the author’s original text.
Along with such notables as Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury, multiple Hugo and Nebula Award winner Poul Anderson is considered one of the masters of speculative fiction.
Dust-jacket from the first edition 1954
Broken Sword – Poul Anderson, cover by George Barr
Poul William Anderson (November 25, 1926 – July 31, 2001) was an American science fiction author who began his career during the Golden Age of the genre and continued to write and remain popular into the 21st century. Anderson also authored several works of fantasy, historical novels, and a prodigious number of short stories. He received numerous awards for his writing, including seven Hugo Awards and three Nebula Awards
Poul Anderson was born on November 25, 1926, in Bristol, Pennsylvania, of Scandinavian parents. Shortly after his birth, his father, Anton Anderson, an engineer, moved the family to Texas, where they lived for over ten years. Following Anton Anderson’s death, his widow took her children to Denmark. The family returned to the United States after the outbreak of World War II, settling eventually on a Minnesota farm. The frame story of his later novel Three Hearts and Three Lions, before the fantasy part begins, is partly set in the Denmark which the young Anderson personally experienced.
While he was an undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota, Anderson’s first stories were published by John W. Campbell in Astounding Science Fiction: “Tomorrow’s Children” by Anderson and F. N. Waldrop in March 1947 and a sequel, “Chain of Logic” by Anderson alone, in July. He earned his B.A. in physics with honors but made no serious attempt to work as a physicist; instead he became a free-lance writer after his graduation in 1948—and placed his third story in the December Astounding.
Anderson married Karen Kruse in 1953 and moved with her to the San Francisco Bay area. Their daughter Astrid (now married to science fiction author Greg Bear) was born in 1954. They made their home in Orinda, California. Over the years Poul gave many readings at The Other Change of Hobbit bookstore in Berkeley, and his wife later donated his typewriter and desk to the store. He died of cancer on July 31, 2001, after a month in the hospital. A few of his novels were first published posthumously.
Anderson was a founding member of the Society for Creative Anachronism in 1966 and of the Swordsmen and Sorcerers’ Guild of America (SAGA), also in the mid-1960s. The latter was a loose-knit group of Heroic Fantasy authors led by Lin Carter, originally eight in number, with entry by credentials as a fantasy writer alone. He was the sixth President of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, taking office in 1972.
Robert A. Heinlein dedicated his 1985 novel The Cat Who Walks Through Walls to Anderson and eight of the other members of the Citizens’ Advisory Council on National Space Policy.
The Science Fiction Writers of America made him its 16th SFWA Grand Master in 1998 and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame inducted him in 2000, its fifth class of two deceased and two living writers.
Info can be found at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poul_Anderson