Three Hearts and Three Lions by Poul Anderson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Holger Carlsen is transported to another Earth, where he is destined to play a part in the war between Law and Chaos. Assisting him are Hugi, a dwarf, and Alianora, a swan maiden. Can they overcome the forces of Chaos and get Holger home?
I got this from Netgalley.
Since I've been wanting to read this for several ice ages, since I first got into Dungeons and Dragons and, later, Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion craziness, it had a lot to live up to. Yeah, it was kind of a disappointment.
Three Hearts and Three Lions is a mish-mash of a ton of quest stories, combining Arthur, Charlemagne, Shakespeare, and various other sources. I can see the influence it had on many later works, like the aforementioned D&D and Elric. I wonder if Roger Zelazny and Philip Jose Farmer were influenced by it as well for Amber and the World of Tiers. The battle between Law and Chaos has been a staple of RPGs since the beginning and fantasy fiction not long after that.
Three Hearts and Three Lions is very much a product of its time, at least as sexist as the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs. While entertaining on some level, the sexism yanked me out of the story a few times. Another thing I didn't care for was the phonetic Scottish accents of some of the characters. For a chapter, it was fine. After that, it got on my nerves.
All things considered, Three Hearts and Three Lions is an enjoyable Chosen One quest story. If you're looking for one of the ancestors of modern fantasy, it's worth a read.
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