The Art of the Possible


A recent review in the LRB (vol 37 no 13) of a book about the Norse saga (‘Why is your axe bloody?’ A Reading of Njal’s Saga by William Ian Miller) took Gert back to the days in which her own Professor of Old Norse, Ian Maxwell,  used to stand with tears pouring down his face as he read from Njal’s Saga. And this prompts her to publish the opening paragraph of her forthcoming The Art of the Possible, in which the hero Frank is obsessed with the Norse saga.

 For a long time little Frank Owlbrother used to go to bed early. The sound of his parents’ bridge parties downstairs was lost as he rode the hills and valleys of Valgard, not even noticing the ache in his elbow and shoulder as he lay propped up in bed with his Sagaworld comics spread around him. When his mother came up to say goodnight and bring him a party pie from the card-players’ supper, he barely acknowledged her smoke-and-red-wine-laden kiss, her ‘Turn the light out now, Frankie.’ He rode into sleep in the guise of Hauskuld the Priest of Whiteness on his heroic steed Hrafni the Untamed. In many a nightmare he had seen the terrible dark shape of Slurga the Eyeless cruising the freezing waters of Hellmist, felt the drumming of Hrafni’s hoofs beneath him as he rode to the Final Encounter, stared fiercely through his all-powerful spectacles, closing first one eye then the other. The first lens, Manfreezer, with the power to immobilize the enemy, the second lens, Heartbiter, with the power to slay him…

7 thoughts on “The Art of the Possible

    1. No, this just sets the scene for Frank’s lifelong obsession with the sagas. Even though he’s in his fifties, and a very meek man, he still has dreams of being a heroic Norse warrior.

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