Burgess won the Carnegie Medal for Smack (1998), his searing fiction about adolescent drug addiction, but his perhaps best-known work is the novel (made into the recent film) Billy Elliot. While still writing about young people, here he boldly takes his inspiration from Iceland’s Volsunga Saga, a tale of endless carnage. In the dystopian future, London’s government has disappeared and the rat-ridden, filthy city, fallen to the forces of Gangland, lies divided between Val Volson’s London and Conor’s Ragnor. King Val, eager to take over Ragnor and all of Europe, offers his 14-year-old daughter Signy to King Conor as his bride. Volson thinks she will spy for him, but Signy finds the hated, volatile, blushing Conor rather sweet, though no wimp. A one-eyed, seven-foot giant shows up in the Galaxy building, where Volson hoards his accursed treasure. The giant dies but returns to life at the wedding feast and plunges a stone knife immovably into a glass cable. Anyone who can take it out can keep it. After they all try, Signy’s twin brother Siggy gets the magic knife, not knowing that it will prove a fatal gift. The clans war, Volson dies, Conor gets the knife and wants to unite all lands, but Signy forms her own destiny and Götterdämmerung.