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Mother of Kings

Poul Anderson

Average Review Rating Average Rating 9/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Tor

Published : 2001

Copyright : Poul Anderson 2001

ISBN-10 : HB 0-312-87448-0
ISBN-13 : HB 978-0-312-87448-3

Publisher's Write-Up

Blending historical and mythological characters, science fiction and fantasy grandmaster Poul Anderson has crafted a novel of magic, mystery and the might of ancient nations to rival Marian Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon.

In the tenth century, during the violent end of the Age of the Vikings, Gunhild, the daughter of a Norse Chieftain, is sent away to learn the magic of a pair of Shamans. She learns her lessons well, and uses her power to summon her heart’s desire, Erik Blood-Ax. Gunhild's magic is a powerful compliment to Erik's strength, but it is not enough to save him from death at the hands of his vicious rivals. And now Gunhild's struggles are far from over as she tries to bring her children to their rightful destiny as kings.

'With Mother of Kings Poul Anderson proves that he is indeed a master!'

Robert Jordan
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Reader Reviews

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Review by Paul Lappen (130903) Rating (9/10)

Review by Paul Lappen
Rating 9/10
Set in the tenth century, this is the story of Gunhild, Queen of Norway and England (a real person). This was the waning days of the Age of Vikings.

As a child, Gunhild learns the ways of witchcraft from a Finnish concubine of her father, a powerful Norse chieftain. She also notices Erik, son of their king. Growing up, Gunhild keeps her eyes open and learns the relationship between the powerful and the weak.
But she doesn't want to stop there. She becomes a spaewife, a master in witchcraft and sorcery, and a knower of the Gods.

She marries Erik, and things are wonderful for a while. She gives him seven sons, all of whom become great warriors, and one daughter, Ragnhild. Forced into a political marriage, Ragnhild gets a reputation as someone whose husbands tend to die before their time. Erik’s strength and Gunhild's craftiness and knowledge of sorcery make them formidable foes.

Haakon, another son of Erik’s father, has an equally strong claim as Erik to be King of Norway. This is a time of building alliances for both men among the groups in that part of the world. The fortunes of
Erik and Gunhild start taking a turn for the worst. They are forced to flee Norway and live for a time in York, England. Another time they flee to the Orkney Islands, part of present-day Scotland. Erik dies in battle, as do his sons, one by one.

Meantime, Christianity comes to that part of the world. Haakon embraces this new religion, partly because his best friend becomes a priest. He expects those in alliance with him to do the same. But, there are those, including powerful people, who are not happy with the old gods being tossed aside.

This is a great novel. It's a big novel, both in size and in scope, so it is not easy or quick reading. Once again, Anderson shows why he was a master of the genre. The style of writing gives the impression that it was actually written a thousand years ago.

Recently translated, it was wrongly labelled as Fiction instead of History. I know of no other contemporary writer in the field who can consistently do that like Anderson.

This book will take some patience, but it is highly recommended.
Paul Lappen (13th September 2003)

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