The Broken Sword
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The Broken Sword Poul Anderson Foreword Late in the year of Our Lord 1018, Sighvat Thordarson fared through Gotaland on an errand for King Olaf of Norway. Most folk thereabouts still worshipped in the old way. The wife at one lonely steading would not let him and his friends spend the night because an Aljarblot was being readied. Any well-brought-up man in those days could make a stave at any time; and Sighvat was a skald. Quoth he: “That Odin be not angered, keep off!” the woman said. “We’re heathen here and holding a holy eve, you wretch!” The carline who unchristianly cast me from this garth gave out that they would offer at evening to the elves. So the tale goes in Snorri Sturlason’s Heimskringla. Elsewhere we read that the dragon heads were removed from warships when they neared home, lest the elves take offence. In such ways we see these beings for what they were in the beginning: gods. Of course, by the time men in the North started writing books, the elves had dwindled...