THREE ANCIENT KINGS by Barbara Leonie Picard


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As noted in Picard's preface, what the three kings have in common is that ""each. . . is persecuted by a deity whom he has angered"" -- an interesting basis perhaps for mature cross-cultural speculation, but not necessarily conducive to reader involvement. The first and best known of the three heroes is probably least in need of this collective approach as he has been more fully (and attractively) treated in Bryson's Gilgamesh (1967). The Icelandic Saga of Hrolf, packed with vengeance, transformation (Bjorn to a bear), treacherous women (one of them a troll), fighting, feasting, and discreet supernatural intervention, is perhaps the most compelling, though it takes some concentration to sift through the various generations and relationships and tangential occurrences. As for Conary (or Conaire), who inherited a god's anger -- though his downfall follows his own breaking of the all important bonds (geasa) that had been laid upon him, the hero's personality never dominates the separate episodes to compensate (to readers) for the inherent futility of his actions. Variously peripheral then, and oddly yoked, though Picard's responsible fidelity and her meticulous introductory notes qualifies this for larger folklore collections.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1972
Publisher: Warne