STARKADDER by Bernard King

STARKADDER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In the last days of the Norse Dark Ages, the legendary warrior Starkadder, cursed by the Norns (Fates) to be immortal, will be allowed to die only after he has committed three terrible betrayals (two have already occurred; Starkadder wearily awaits the third). Heightening the air of gloom and doom, the Norse gods look on, foreseeing that when Starkadder finally falls, their power will crumble. When Starkadder is attacked by berserkers led by Angantyr and paid by King Oli (supposedly Starkadder's employer), he easily slaughters them all. But Angantyr's daughter Hervara, swearing vengeance on Starkadder, visits Angantyr in his tomb to demand the sword Tyrfing, a blade cursed by its dwarf-smiths to slay whoever wields it. Later, Hather, son of Hervara and Lambi Nef, receives Tyrfing and, learning of the curse, sets off to visit the dwarf-king to plead for the curse's removal. Meanwhile, Lambi Nef, conspiring against the now-mad King Oli, tries to persuade Starkadder to kill Oli; Starkadder refuses and leaves. On the road, he meets Hather; they go together to visit dwarf-king Dvalin, who advises them to exchange swords and promises that the curse will be lifted after Starkadder's third betrayal. Finally, Starkadder betrays both Oli and Lambi Nef, and in turn is killed by Tyrfing. A grim, heavy, bloody saga, yet with a certain undeniable, if oppressive, power and momentum.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1987
Publisher: St. Martin's