Saturday, October 21, 2017

Hrunting, by C.J. Cherryh

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(Fantasy Adventure) Two generations after “Beowulf,” a young man returns to Grendel’s mother’s lair seeking his grandfather’s famous lost sword. (10,250 words; Time: 34m)

Rating: ★★★★☆ New Twist on an Old Tale

"Hrunting," by (edited by Gardner Dozois), appeared in (RSR review), published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Pro: We learn early on what a great guy he is. He attends to his grandfather’s grave. He avoids the hopeless fight with the ruffians, even though he wants to. But we learn he’s very brave indeed when he swims into Grendel’s mother’s lair.

His attention to ritual and propriety is scrupulous. He honors his grandfather, Unferth, and even honors Grendel’s mother. At the end, all his sacrifices are rewarded, and it seems as though things will be better for him and his father—all without him needing to kill anyone to accomplish that.

The paradox of Hrunting is that the sword guarantees a win for a hero, making it an unfair weapon and its wielder is no hero if he tries to use it. It is a sword that cannot be used.

Con: Despite his goodness, despite his recent loss of his grandfather, he never engages us emotionally.

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C.J. Cherryh Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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