"The Broken Sword" by Poul Anderson

Fried Egg

Well-Known Member
Nov 20, 2006
I've just finished this book and, I must say, am well impressed with it. One of the best fantasy stories I have read and I wonder why there aren't more out there like it. Ok, there probably are, I just don't know about them...

My only criticism is that the ending was rather abrubt, almost rushed. But besides that, it was the perfect novel.

Dark, brooding, tragic yet romantic. It put me in mind, in some ways, of E.R Eddison's "Worm Ouroborus" although it is quite different.

Anyone else read this?
I've read it many times, and in fact wrote a Chronicles review a while back:


If you are looking for books of a similar sort, C. J. Cherryh's Dreamstone and The Tree of Swords and Jewels are also "dark, brooding, tragic, but romantic" and are written in equally beautiful prose. You might also like some of Tanith Lee's Flat Earth books, although the setting there is more Arabian Nights than Dark Ages/Medieval.
Some of Anderson's other fantasy books have elements of this, though they are a bit more restrained at times. Three Hearts and Three Lions has a different feel to it, but is also well worth reading, while The Merman's Children, though somewhat diluted insofar as the unrelenting tragedy is concerned, is nonetheless rather strong on that element. Hrolf Kraki's Saga is, like The Broken Sword, inspired by early Norse sources, being a retelling of the original, but with Anderson's own approach... again, well worth reading. And for something that straddles the borderline between fantasy and sf, try his A Midsummer Tempest, as well...
I absolutely loved Midsummer Tempest -- it takes you on a wild and wonderful ride involving Shakespearian characters as you've never seen them before, and even stops off for a while at the author's 'The Old Phoenix Inn', an establishment that crops up in a number of Anderson's stories.

I remember reading an interview with Anderson towards the end of his life, when he was asked to name the books he would most like to be remembered for. He came up with five (I think) and three of them matched the books that I will always remember him for. Midsummer Tempest was one and the other two were the wonderful SF masterpiece Tau Zero and the early classic Brain Wave.

Hmm... wonder if I can find the link. There: Locus: Poul Anderson interview for anyone interested.

Anderson was a great author, who wrote as many entertaining works as just about anyone in the field.
Thanks for the link, Ian. I'd tend to agree (overall) with his choices, though I think I'd put The Broken Sword on a list of his best, just because of the sheer passion of that book. Brain Wave... yes, despite its age, it's still a rather powerful book, and can still hit hard emotionally.

You're quite right... Anderson wrote quite a lot of very good work in his career. Definitely someone worth checking out for those who haven't....
Yes, j.d., the problem is that there are so many you could include.

Another favourite of mine was Satan's World, featuring intrepid adventurer/trader David Falkayne with his ship and two alien crewmates Che and Adzel, not to mention their boss, the infamous Nicholas van Rijn... and then there was the wonderful The Makeshift Rocket which gave us the only rocket ship I know of powered by beer... not to mention The High Crusade, where a bunch of medieval knights seize a spaceship and conquer the galaxy...

Oh, happy days (sigh). :)
One of the finest fantasy novels I've ever read. It surprising that it never been adapted to the big screen.
Recently re-read the Broken Sword, again. A good tale. I actually have a couple copies of it, all are showing their age.
Yes, an absolute cracker. It comes up in a lot of threads either for fantasy recs or Poul Anderson recs.

Three Hearts and Three Lions is also quite good

Conan The Liberator It's prequel to Robert E Howard's story Queen of the Black Coast . It's by far one of the best Conan pastiches ever written and in its own right, is a very good fantasy novel.
Conan The Liberator It's prequel to Robert E Howard's story Queen of the Black Coast . It's by far one of the best Conan pastiches ever written and in its own right, is a very good fantasy novel.
As well as that one, Baylor, he wrote other sword and sorcery things where you could substitute names and they could easily be Conan stories, and they read really like Howard to me (e.g. Witch of the Demon Seas, a novella he had published in Planet Stories). You'd like that story, I'm sure.

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