Publisher's Summary

Thor has broken the sword Tyrfing so that it cannot strike at the roots of Yggdrasil, the tree that binds together earth, heaven, and hell. But now the mighty sword is needed again to save the elves in their war against the trolls, and only Skafloc, a human child kidnapped and raised by the elves, can hope to persuade Bölverk the ice-giant to make Tyrfing whole again. But Skafloc must also confront his shadow self, Valgard the changeling, who has taken his place in the world of men.
©1954 Poul Anderson (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Ryan on 25-01-2014

A spirited homage to old myths

In The Broken Sword, Poul Anderson mines the same Nordic/British myths and folklore that Tolkien did, and tells a rousing, tragic adventure. An infant is born to a Viking warrior and his Christianized family, but a proud and haughty elf lord takes the child and leaves a changeling in his place. Thus, Skafloc grows up among the elves and learns their ways, while the half-troll-half-elf Valgard is raised as human, but becomes a savage, unruly warrior.

The plot isn’t too complex: the two warriors, who have a close physical resemblance, take opposite sides in a troll-elf war, and battle each other using magic, trickery, and might. However, a tragic twist comes into play, thanks to Skafloc’s ignorance of his origins and some intervention by Norse gods.

This isn't up with The Lord of the Rings in terms of depth of world-building, but it’s got a fiercer, darker spirit. Look for homage to all the traditional elements of Northern European myth: old gods who do not allow mortals to renege on a promise; aloof, immortal, fleet-footed elves, who dwell in ethereal castles and “know friendship but not love”; seductive maidens who aren’t what they appear; and big, ferocious trolls (who call to mind the roided-out orcs in Peter Jackson’s LOTR films). Though the description never gets too explicit (this novel was written in the 1950s), there’s plenty of larger-than-life action, treachery, black magic, ale-quaffing, bawdiness, and skull splitting. The Hobbit, this isn’t.

Fans of epic warrior sagas or the kind of blood-soaked faerie tales that are no longer considered suitable fare for children will eat this one up. Anderson's writing is faithful to the lusty descriptions of old epics like Beowulf, but not as dusty-sounding. You can practically hear the war horns blowing and the swords ringing. Audiobook narrator Bronson Pinchot might overact a bit here and there, but that's in keeping with the tale’s energy.

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8 of 8 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Jefferson on 01-10-2011

Unforgettable Dark Epic Fantasy Magic

Listening to Poul Anderson???s The Broken Sword was a powerful experience. Anderson wove elements from Norse, Anglo-Saxon, and British mythology and legends, Viking history in England (when Christianity was inexorably spreading and converting heathen), Faerie (elves, trolls, and the like sharing the world of mortals but usually remaining just out of sight), and his own imagination to write a bleakly beautiful, horribly heroic, and bloodily tragic epic fantasy novel.

Because it was first published in 1954 and draws on similar sources, The Broken Sword is often compared with The Lord of the Rings, but it feels closer to The Silmarillion, for Anderson???s novel has a similarly deep sense of beauty, irony, fate, time, and tragedy (as well as similar manipulation of mortals by gods, incest, flawed ???heroes,??? mortals mixing with immortals, and the passing of a wondrous age). But although Anderson???s novel features epic language with Anglo-Saxon-esque alliteration and poetry, as well as archaic words (fey, ere, twain) and syntax (savage was the battle), it is a straight-forward, action-packed, and rawly human read. Anderson???s doppleganger heroes, the elf-raised Skafloc and the human-raised changeling Valgard, are prey to all-consuming valor, hatred, and love. The broken sword is a compelling artifact, evil, charismatic, powerful, and treacherous.

Bronson Pinchot gives a grand performance; from the disturbingly quiet elf-lord Imric to the ominously deep voiced troll king Illrede, all the characters come alive, full of their crafty manipulations and overwhelming passions. The vengeful witch negotiating with Satan for aid, Freda???s dead brother revealing that she and Skafloc are siblings, Valgard telling his elf-lord father Imric why he hates him prior to torturing him, Odin explaining to Freda what he wants from behind her girdle, in such scenes Anderson???s writing and Pinchot???s reading combine to make unforgettable dark epic fantasy magic.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
1 out of 5 stars
By Dai Griffiths on 17-09-2014

Poor performance

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Use a British English speaker rather then an American one.

Would you be willing to try another book from Poul Anderson? Why or why not?

I like Poul Anderson and have read very many of his books, so I was looking forward to this.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

This is supposed to be an English faery tale. I could overlook the American accent of the narrator - just - but the moment he tried to imitate an English accent was like being hit with a bucket of icewater. Very, very poor.

You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Don't know - I had to give up after just one chapter.

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4 of 5 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By k on 13-06-2017

Moving like no other book I have ever read

I don't know what say about this caught my imagination like no other...
I hate it has finished
Loved the main characters
And the battle and woe story victory ,doom , hate and love

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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