I am not going to be able to escape Dylan Thomas, now. We went to Wales, I read some poetry, I read a biography on him, and now he is everywhere. His signature poem “Fern Hill” was quoted in Watership Down, the cartoon “Get Fuzzy” riffs on “Do not go gentle” (and so does everyone else, I see), and Kingsley Amis wrote a book about a fictionalized Dylan and Caitlin returning to Wales: but I didn’t read that book. For this list I had chosen Kingsley Amis’s The Green Man, had actually acquired it and truly read the whole damn thing, and then decided it was not going on the list in the end. The book was kind of a dud. The writing was competent, but the story was decidedly uninspiring, hard to finish, and certainly not as advertised: not amusing, not scary, and not particularly interesting, especially so the main character, Maurice Allington. So onto …. Three Hearts and Three Swords by Poul Anderson...
This is a very talented author and a somewhat untalented book. It is boilerplate fantasy – elves, dwarfs, unicorns, but with a talented hand drawing them, although I understand they were probably not boilerplate when this book was written in the 50s. Cool thing: the eyes of the elves are so clear, it seems they are blind at first. Characters are described so you can see them before you: jug handle ears. The ending was more chill and perfect than perhaps this particular story deserved. Interesting.
During my Science Fiction Reading List, I learned that literature is the physics of those worlds – and in fantasy – another story often provides the rules, the gravity, for each tale – and in fantasy especially, it seems to be entire bodies of mythology are the keystones, and have been so in hundreds of years. Three Hearts and Three Swords dealt with the “Matter of France,” the body of historical mythology attributed to Charlemagne.
Writing lessons learned – don’t eat the scenery. Everyone knew that The Protagonist and The Girl would get together – waiting for it was just annoying and weird. Listening to him worry and worry and worry just got old. Hmmm. Maybe that’s why I don’t really care for romances.
Three Hearts and Three Swords by Poul Anderson