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Three Hearts and Three Lions (Fantasy Masterworks) Paperback – December 4, 2003

4.5 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for Poul Anderson's The Boat of a Million Years:
''An unforgettable novel, with a cast as big as mankind and an adventure that charts the course of time. Read it, enjoy it, savor it.'' --Jerry Pournelle, New York Times bestselling author --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

About the Author

Poul Anderson was born in 1926 in Pennsylvania and educated at the University of Minnesota where he gained a degree in physics in 1948. Amongst his many fine novels are A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S TEMPEST, BRAIN WAVE, THE AVATAR, WAR OF THE WING-MEN and THE BOAT OF A MILLION YEARS.

Product Details

  • Series: Fantasy Masterworks (Book 40)
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (December 4, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575074981
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575074989
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #293,766 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By OAKSHAMAN VINE VOICE on February 12, 2007
Format: Paperback
I first read this book over thirty years ago. I remember how much it meant to me even though at that time I didn't understand all the references. I was a little afraid that rereading it again after all these years might prove disappointing to me. It wasn't- if anything I love this book more than ever. I am also amazed that it was written in 1953, for its talk of parallel universes and the principles of quantum physics long predates the popularization of those topics.

Briefly, this is the story of an Americanized agnostic engineer of Danish descent who finds himself battling the Nazis on a beach during WW2. A head wound sends his consciousness across to the other world that he simultaneously inhabits. It is a parallel universe in modern terms, or a "higher plane" in esoteric terminology, but, as he tells himself, this is just substituting words for the same reality. But both worlds are connected, and the agnostic engineer concludes that the connection between the two is...God. He finds that in both the same battle of Law versus Chaos rages. In our world the Nazis threaten to engulf the planet, and in the realer, purer realm of which ours is but a pale reflection, the Middle World threatens to blot out Light forever. But Chaos had failed to account for the fact that in its time of need the universe will call forth a champion on all planes. The only problem is that the champion may not immediately recall who and what he truly is...

Before Zelazny and Amber, before Moorcock and Melnibone, before Thomas Covenant and the Land, or Simon Tregarth and Witch World, there was Holger Carlsen in the Middle World on the marches of the Empire. You can read this as a pure adventure romance (witches, warlocks, elves, faeries dragons, giants, trolls, etc.) or you can get a little more out of it, but it is definitely worth your time.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Although Poul Anderson (who died in early 2001 after a long, distinguished career) wrote the majority of his books in the science fiction genre, he also turned out excellent work in fantasy as well. His best in this vein is the astonishing, but hard to find today, THE BROKEN SWORD. But he personally preferred this more light-hearted romp, THREE HEARTS AND THREE LIONS, first published in 1953. It a fun and incredibly clever look into the nature of fantasy itself, as a rationalist from the 20th century is plunged into a fantasy world, where he finds his scientific knowledge and straight-forward approach actually help him, not hinder him.
Chapter after chapter is filled with clever devices, funny characters, and exciting action. (The idea for D&D trolls was borrowed from this book, by the way.) The ending is a surprise as well -- not quite what you would expect considering the tone of the rest of the book, and yet completely appropriate and raises the book beyond mere light entertainment.
I recommend this book to any fantasy lover (it had a huge effect on many other authors, especially Michael Moorcock and his Elric novels), but I especially think that young adults who are just discovering fantasy literature will absolutely fall in love with this book: charm, humor, action, a great hero, a speedy read, and something to think about at the end. What more could you ask for?
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The outline of this book is familiar, even ancient. Candide, the stranger in a strange land. So why have I been dragging my poor, bedraggled copy around for 40 years? (Note to Amazon - I'll be buying another copy soon - mine is not long for this world.) What is the appeal of this fairly lightweight fantasy tale to a 50+ engineer-turned-computer-programmer? By now, I've long since lost count of the times I've read it. 30? 50? 100? more? I don't know, and I don't care. I simply know that on a per hour basis, this is the best entertainment money I've ever spent. And that doesn't even count the times my wife and children have read the darn thing.
Our hero is Holger, a well-meaning, if not entirely bright, engineer transported to a land of myth closely resembling Europe of the Middle Ages, where he is somehow (no surrpise) a central figure in ways he cannot see. Dozens of books like it, right? Wrong. Poul Anderson then spins a yarn I keep coming back to year after year.
The story is rather predictable, but the charm of the characters is mezmerizing. Holger, our intrepid hero, the charming swan-may who loves him, Hugi, the loyal but gruff dwarf --- oh, I give up. Trust me on this one.
Whatever Amazon is asking for this thing, pay it. Now.
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Format: Hardcover
When an adolescent,40 some odd years ago,this book stood out as a beacon of meaning within the imaginative world of science fiction.I read all the well known sci-fi writers of the time,& learned from some of them,much of what I later realized was the nature of bitterness,cynicism,absurdism,,nihilistic pain,and the hollowness of having what the Native Americans called losing my center.The story of how my center found me is not the point.I kept going back to this book because it closed with a focus on belief in the victory over corruption,old and evil,and an attempt to go back to a world where truth & justice and glory meant something,& where right was fresh and clean,& wrong was really wrong.I later found the writers who gave Anderson his own literary inspiration,and who gave them theirs.I am still grateful for this book,and I include my thanks for its ability to bring back wonder to daily life,and make me realize that life HERE is glorious,and will be better.

Oh,and it's just great entertainment,and fun,too.
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