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Three Hearts and Three Lions by Poul…
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Three Hearts and Three Lions (1961)

by Poul Anderson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Holger Danske (1)

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English (18)  Hungarian (1)  English (19)
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‘In olden time,’ said Hugi, ‘richt after the Fall, nigh everything were Chaos, see ye. But step by step ’tis been driven back. The longest step was when the Saviour lived on earth, for then naught o’ darkness could stand...'

Three Hearts and Three Lions is one of those classic heroic fantasy novels that satisfies on almost every level. Published originally in 1953 and expanded in 1961, it tells the story of Holger Carlsen, an engineer from Denmark who is suddenly transported from a World War II battlefield to a world of magic, myths, and monsters. He awakens in a forest without his clothes, where a fully equipped warhorse named Papillion grazes peacefully. Taking the armor, weapons and clothing from the horse's back, Holger notices the shield that hangs from the saddle. Something familiar about the design stirs his memory: three hearts and three lions. But nothing more comes. And yet he can ride the horse and wield the sword skillfully.

As he struggles to make sense of why he is there and how to return, Holger finds himself deeply involved in the battle between Chaos and Law. He gains the friendship of Hugi the dwarf and Alianor the swan maiden, but he find himself at odds with the Elf-lord Duke Alfric and the sorceress Morgan Le Fey.

For fans of heroic fantasy, Three Hearts and Three Lions has nearly everything one could wish: dragons, magic swords, werewolves, the land of Faerie, quests, tragedy, romance, humor, adventure--all held together by an underlying theme and a fairytale atmosphere. While it does not have the sophistication or breadth of The Lord of the Rings, it has an unexpected depth and heart, especially for such a short work.

Three Heart and Three Lions is a true classic from the golden age of fantasy and is listed in Fantasy: The 100 Best Books. ( )
  nsenger | Nov 21, 2016 |
Originally published in 1953, this book was selected for reprint as part of the "Fantasy Masterworks" series, so I thought I would check it out.

Holger Carlsen is a Danish-American engineer, who, while involved in a daring attempt to smuggle people out of Nazi-occupied Denmark, finds himself mysteriously transported to a medieval-esque land on the border of Faerie. He awakes naked, with no memory of how he arrived in this place - but finds a knight's steed and trappings sitting next to him, ready for his use, so he sets off on a quest to find a way to get home. Soon joined by an earthy little dwarf, Hugi, and a beautiful, nubile swan-maiden, Alionora, he experiences a set of adventures (in which his knowledge of engineering repeatedly comes in handy), faces the machinations of Morgan le Fay, and gradually comes to realize that his true place may be here, in this magical land.

It's a bit cheesy in parts, and suffers from some innate sexism (it was written in the 50's), but overall, a fun, light read. ( )
1 vote AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
I'd already read a small amount about Ogier the Dane, before encountering this work, and I never warmed up to it. I've got a copyright date of 1951 for this book, and its clumsy WWII tie-in was a final nail in the coffin. I'm glad this is just one of Poul Anderson's books. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Sep 12, 2013 |
This is an entertaining tale of a twentieth century man, Holger Carlsen, suddenly plunged into a magical medieval world where he gains a dwarf and a swan-may as companions and Morgan le Fay as his adversary, along the way battling werewolves, trolls, elves and giants. I do like the way Carlsen's knowledge as an engineer comes into play, as in this encounter with a dragon:

Downward the monster slanted, overhauling them with nightmare speed. Holger glanced back again and saw smoke and flame roll from the fanged mouth. For a lunatic moment he wondered about the metabolism, and what amendment to the square-cube law permitted that hulk to fly?

Similarly he deduces the curse on a purse of gold must be due to the radioactivity of transmutation. A lot of the humor comes from a modern, scientific man's struggles to make sense of the fairy tale setting. At the same time there's something old-fashioned in the sensibility of this book published in 1953. It struck me reading this that in recent decades fantasy has taken on New Age assumptions about the sources and overall benignity of magic. This is a tale where witches are sinister figures and wielding a cross and having Christian prayers on your lips can avert evil. That made it rather refreshing in some ways from the contemporary works in fantasy--like reading a story where vampires are bloodsucking fiends rather than a dream date. There are touches of Mallory speak ("hight" and "oft" and the like) but that doesn't keep it from reading fast--and it's pretty short, not much longer than 200 pages in mass paperback. I did enjoy this, although not in a way I would read it again. So fun, entertaining, but not for me a keeper. ( )
3 vote LisaMaria_C | Jul 22, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anderson, Poulprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Giancola, DonatoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gregory, PaulCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, JeffCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lundgren, CarlCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Power, Richard M.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woodroffe, PatrickCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The gathering forces of the Dark Powers threaten the world of man. The legions of Faery, aided by trolls, demons, and the Wild Hunt itself, are poised to overthrow the Realms of Light. Holger Carlsen, a bemused and puzzled twentieth-century man mysteriously snatched out of time, finds himself the key figure in the conflict. Arrayed against him are the dragons, giants, and elfin warriors of the armies of Chaos and the beautiful sorceress Morgan le Fay. On his side are a vague prophecy, a quarrelsome dwarf, and a beautiful woman who can turn herself into a swan, not to mention Papillon, the magnificent battle horse, and a full set of perfectly fitting armor, both of which were waiting for him when he entered the magical realm. The shield bears three hearts and three lions the only clue to Holger Carlsen's true identity. Could Carlsen really be a legendary hero, the only man who can save the world… (more)

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