Apparently, Poul Anderson is a prolific sci-fi and fantasy writer, and has been writing for a long time, too. I haven't read anything else of his, but based on this book, I am considering picking something else of his up. This wasn't one of the greatest books I've ever read, but it held my interest because of its use of Norse mythology and the supernatural. The narrative starts out relating the strife between Odin's Aesir and the Vanir, threatening to separate the gods forever, and perhaps have cataclysmic effects on the whole universe. It then focuses on Hadding for the rest of the book, who struggles to establish a stable kingdom, facing dangers both earthly and otherworldly. His role in bringing peace to the war between the gods may not be clear until the end, unless you're a lot more cunning than me. Following the interrelationships between the characters and geographies sometimes became a daunting task and confuses the narrative, but once I got past those things, the story became very engrossing. I'm not usually into fantasy, but I'm not sure this is entirely fantasy - its pseudo-historical/myth/fantasy/horror. The supernatural and pseudo-historic elements (some of which Anderson admits are inaccurate in a brief Afterword) don't really get in the way, though at times, as I said, the focus on detailed interrelationships and geographies can be a problem. The characterization is also a little weak; although there is some, I don't feel any of the characters were very fully developed, not even Hadding. There are flashes of some of the characters that reveal something profound about their personalities, but ultimately the narrative isn't very character-driven. Instead, the emphasis is more on describing action-packed battle scenes and the history of the characters and land. Still, as I said, the story became intriguing to me, and those few passages of characterization got me to care enough for the people that I wanted to know what happened to them. And eventually I did come to sympathize with Hadding as the text showed him as a leader of people, though something a bit more than human; fair and compassionate, yet stern and brazen; strong and courageous, yet rash and vulnerable. Also, fortunately, the action scenes weren't glorified or clichéd, but instead driven by metaphor and original description. For example, "Like two storm waves, a greater and a lesser, the hosts crashed together. Blood-foam spattered into the wind. The tides churned, swirled in among each other, became a seething that howled." The pages are filled with the typical fantasy fare: warriors, kings, princesses, sorcerers, witches, trolls, elves (though these are the scary kind), as well as some uncommon creatures such as jotuns (giants), drows, and land wights. And of course gods and goddesses. Recommended if you're into Norse mythology, or think you would enjoy a good, dark mythologically and pseudo-historically based fantasy.