British Fantasy Award 1974. Mythopoeic Fantasy Award nominee 1974.
In the tradition of high fantasy and magic, Poul Anderson here presents the translated tale of the heathen Danish king, Hrolf Kraki, a sort of pagan King Arthur.
In the dark days of the very earliest middle ages (around the time of Beowulf), we find Hrolf king of a small Norse kingdom in what is today part of modern Denmark. Lord of the ancestors of the modern Danes, this unprepossessing ruler of men gathers about him the heroes of his day (or so legend apparently had it) and creates a brief golden age in a violent time.
But Hrolf is star-crossed, the product of an unfortunate liaison between unhappy lovers (he is both son and brother to his mother) and scion of a family of violent and bloody strivers, a hero who, in the end, must defend all he has against the predations of his kin. In the process he has numerous adventures, confronts dark magic and builds a court of war-like champions.
Poul Anderson (1926–2001) was born in Pennsylvania of Scandinavian stock. He started publishing science fiction in 1947 and became one the great figures in the genre, serving as President of the Science Fiction Writers of America, winning many Hugo and Nebula awards, and also winning the Gandalf (Grand Master) Award.