Top positive review
20 people found this helpful
on 27 February 2009
I have to admit that though I have read more fantasy novels than can possibly be good for a grown man, this was my first read of this classic written at the same time of LOTR's.
It has made me re-evaluate some of my beliefs such as GRR Martin, Erikson and a few others invented the 'darker' and gorier branch of fantasy! They didn't Anderson did.
Having now read it I see why so many authors credit Anderson as an inspiration to them. Back in the 1950's this book must both have been groundbreaking and quite shocking. If Tolkien is the Beatles then Anderson is the Rolling Stones! more raw, edgy and dangerous but perhaps not as widely celebrated.
Anyway the book! First off it is relatively short (275 pages) and yet soo much is crammed in. Anderson tells you the story as though he is an ancient nordic story teller with his audience sat round the fire with a horn of meade. True saga style. The quicker the reader grasps this the better as there will be no riding behind the eyes of the heroes or pages of motives and feelings. In fact you could even argue there are no heroes just competeing factions.
Anderson sets the action in our world as man and the 'White Christ' is starting to sweep the land of faerie from the world. Despite this the war which makes for the bulk of the story is between the Trolls and the Elves. Into this war is dragged a human hero who must contend with the meddling of the God's, the fate weaving of the norn's, frost giants, falling in love and discovering who he is and where he came from!
Anderson manages to weave together actual history, faerie legend, nordic culture, the Gods and a sweeping story of envy, lust, violence, vengeance and love and I repeat all in about 275 pages!
Given the historical importance and clear conduit to modern fantasy status as well as the fact it is a mini masterpiece it had to be a 5 star rating.