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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's all about the Gold!, 15 May 2010
This review is from: Rhinegold (Paperback)
This is a full and very long version of the ancient stories of the Volsungs, The Taking of the Hoard of Fafnir, the Court of the Burgundians at Worms and its defeat by Attila and the vengeance of Gudrún.

Each part of the whole is given full weight, the characters are drawn from the legends, but given life and humanity by the author. Starting with Wals, it follows in full the story of the discord at the marriage of Sigilind and its grim aftermath, of the escape of Sigimund and his life as a warg, of the conception of Sinfjotli, their vengeance, their return to Germany and their fortunes leading up to the conception of Sigifried.

He then follows Sigifried as the tool of vengeance wrought by Regin the dwarf and the slaying of Fafnir the dragon. This part ends with his meeting with Sigrdrifa the Valkyrie, who here is also Sigilind reborn. They declare their undying love and she tells him that he will find her again as Brunichild.

The final part tells of the betrayal of Sigifrith's love by magic and how he instead falls in love with Gudrun, sister of Gundahari. This in itself would be a minor tragedy except that Gundahari seeks to marry Brunichild, but needs Sigifrith's help to overcome the magic preventing lesser mortals from reaching her. Sigifrith keeps faith with Gundahari by lying with Gram between himself and Brunichild for the three nights they are together. However, this is not enough and things go from bad to worse as the two wives meet, leading to the embitterment of Brunichild and the death of Sigifrith. Gudrun is then married to Attila and the brothers are left to face their fate.

I think that Grundy's conclusion is neater than the legend's, which has poor Gudrún facing another doom-laden marriage in what is probably (yet another) tacked on legend, but one that does not share the unifying element of the Gold.

Grundy's genius here is his blending of historical fact into the story, which in Norse became more and more removed from the source so that in one telling Gunnar (Gundahari) and Atli (Attila) are rival farmers or vikings in different fjords. As with all stories that blend history with mythology the historical carries the story, provides the backdrop, but does not limit the story when we need magic and gods, runes and potions to muddy the waters and turn a lazy eddy of the river into a fatal vortex, drawing its victims in to their inevitable doom.
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