The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The Broken Sword is populated with elves, trolls, dwarfs, and other creatures of Northern European folklore and myth. It is set in the land of Faerie, which is part of the known world but invisible to most humans. The story begins with Orm, a Viking settler in the Danelaw (northern and eastern England). Orm is cursed by a witch after he seizes her family’s lands. She swears that Orm’s son will be stolen and that he will rear a beast instead. Orm ignores her, building and marrying on the lands taken from the witch.

Orm’s first child is indeed stolen, by an elf-earl named Imric. It is replaced by a changeling created from Imric’s union with a captive female troll. The changeling is named Valgard and is reared as Orm’s son. Orm’s true son is reared by Imric in Faerie. He is called Skafloc.

On Skafloc’s naming-day, a messenger of the gods gives the child a “broken sword” of iron. The elves cannot touch iron, and they bury the sword. Skafloc grows rapidly and is trained in warfare and magic. He learns to change shape. Valgard, the changeling, also becomes a great warrior, but he is wild and violent.

One day, Ketil, another of Orm’s sons, stumbles on the witch, who appears to Ketil as a beautiful woman. Valgard discovers them together and murders Ketil. Orm finds out about the murder, and Valgard then kills his father.

After Valgard flees back to the witch, she explains his heritage as half elf...

(The entire section is 565 words.)