Tuesday, January 3, 2012
A Texan tale-spinner in J.R.R. Tolkien's court
This is not exactly a barbaric coup of the Mythopoeic Society as Mythprint publishes reviews of a wide range of fantasy and historical fiction. But I am proud to have played perhaps some small part in bringing Howard, and in particular Howard's lesser-known characters like Cormac FitzGeoffrey and Agnes de Chastillon, to (potentially) a new audience.
The review initially appeared in the October 2011 issue of Mythprint but you can also read it in its entirety here on the Mythopeic Society website: http://www.mythsoc.org/reviews/howard-sword-woman/.
Sword Woman is the last in the Del Rey line and is highly recommended, by the way. In addition to wonderful stories and some fine scholarly essays it features a handful of excellent Howard poems, too. This was my first time reading “The Outgoing of Sigurd the Jerusalem-Farer," and I found it, well, positively Tolkien-ian. In it Sigurd seeks some "doom beyond the dooms" across an expanse of sea, rather like the Númenórean prince Aldarion of Unfinished Tales whose heart may have belonged to Erendis, but whose passion lay with the sea:
The fires roared in the skalli-hall,
And a woman begged me stay—
But the bitter night was falling
And the cold wind calling
Across the moaning spray.
How could I stay in the feasting-hall
When the wild wind walked the sea?
The feet of the winds drew out my soul
To the grey waves and the cloud’s scroll
Where the gulls wheel and the whales roll,
And the abyss roars to me.
Man the sweeps and bend the sail—
We need no oars tonight
For the sharp sleet drives before the gale
That dashes the spray across the rail
To freeze on helmet and corselet scale,
And the waves are running white.
I could not bide in the feasting-hall
Where the great fires light the rooms—
For the winds are walking the night for me
And I must follow where gaunt lands be,
Seeking, beyond some nameless sea,
The dooms beyond the dooms.