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Monday, August 9, 2010

Poul Anderson's 3 Hearts & 3 Lions



I didn't realize this was fantasy when I found this used book at a flea market as a teenager... but then, I didn't know much about genres. I guess I figured it was a SciFi/time travel book, like an adult version of Conetticut Yankee. I certainly had no idea it was written in the early '50s and, until tonight, had no clue it influenced Dungeons & Dragons.

I did find it fully enjoyable, engrossing, and leaving me wanting more when I finished it in record time. So much so that I bought other books by Poul Anderson (from his Flandry series) and was greatly disappointed. Maybe I should try them again, now. Howard and Burroughs took a few tries for me before I got in their groove, too.

Anyway, I've read this a few times and will probably do so again. It truly does have appeal for all ages.

The title, by-the-way, comes from the crest on the shield left for Holger along with his horse, armor and sword.

I admired Holger Carlsen and the Saracen Carahue, enjoyed the fight scenes and was tickled by the riddle contest with the pseudo-intellectual giant (years later I paid homage to it in a fantasy short of my own).

Throughout the tale there is an implication that the characters have been expecting Holger to arrive--like it was prophesied from olde or something. But this is never explained to my satisfaction. That's annoying, but I'm not one of these reviewers who's gonna complain because the female characters aren't amazon superninjas. If you want that so bad you can find it in pretty much EVERY fantasy, SciFi or action adventure, fiction or film, cookie-cuttered out in the last few decades. This was written before that became an ironclad requirement in the formula and, for that, I'm grateful.

3 Hearts & 3 Lions is flat-out FUN and makes me wish Anderson had done more like this.

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