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_The Long Ships_, by Frans G. Bengtsson
Bar Harbor
Historical fiction about 10th century Vikings, written in the mid-twentieth century, but in the style of an actual saga. To quote gyzki, "Good men, bad men, beautifullest women, and twin Irish acrobats." Grand adventure. It made me laugh out loud, gasp, or otherwise physically react on numerous occasions.

Michael Chabon, in his introduction, claims, with deliberate hyperbole, that this novel would please everyone on earth, and wonders why it has not been better known. I can easily see a large class of people who would not be pleased by this novel, namely those who easily take offense at... well almost anything. The book has a gentle but persistent irony that refuses to take anything too seriously, whether religion, sex, violence, government, or the various intersections of these important topics. Some *characters* take some of these things seriously, but the overall narrative tone refuses to lend its support to any position absolutely.

Also, the author is perhaps over-fond of certain patterns. When a character leaves the stage apparently for good, only to reappear dozens (or hundreds) of pages (and miles) from where you last saw them, unexpectedly but at the perfect dramatic moment, that's cool and exciting. By the ninth and tenth time it happened, however, the repetition bothered me a little. Still, each instance had its own uniqueness, and remained cool and exciting on a pure narrative level.

I nitpick because I care, and because to talk too much about the story would risk spoilers. So I will close by quoting Chabon again: "It is really good."


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