Hrolf Kraki's Saga by Pohl Anderson is a wonderful book. The book encapsulates the history of Hrolf Kraki from his earliest known ancestry to his passing from the world. I have not read an actual translation of the compilation of the ancient Danish manuscripts which date from as far back as the 1100s but from the way in which Mr. Anderson put his story together I assume he followed the fragmentary source documents more closely than not, so I believe one will get as respectably accurate an understanding of the Hrolf Kraki myth as one would from any extant source. The style sometimes, particularly early in the book, reads like a basic genealogy such as: he begat him and him begat her, which gets a little slow at times but the effort to get through those few pages is well worth it. Mr. Anderson begins to delve more deeply into the lives of Hrolf Kraki's ancestors within a couple generations of him although throughout the ancestral history the stage is being set for who, what and how...
This retelling of the Danish Sagas by Poul Anderson is very true to the original, even to the point of starting generations before the title character comes on the scene. No one lives in a vacuum and one hero's life has roots in the past.
Generations of betrayals and heroics led up to the point where Hrolf appears, and they all have a part in making his destiny. Our benefit is having someone like Poul Anderson to make the legends accessible to our time. I confess, though, that I liked Three Hearts and Three Lions better.
Poul Anderson always does a terrific job of presenting Viking days and history. This one was just as satisfying as one of his I read several years ago. The characters are vividly portrayed and the history is filled with information I did not know--such as that the Anglo-Saxons had control of what we today call the mainland of Denmark. In those early days the Danes only controlled some islands and the southern tip of Sweden. There were also Poles in northwestern Germany!
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