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The Valor of Cappen Varra

Poul William Anderson

Book Overview: 

It's been said that there are many and strange shadows, memories surviving from dim pasts, in this fantastic universe of ours. Here the great Poul Anderson turned to a legend from the Northern countries, countries where even today the pagan past seems only like yesterday, to tell the story of Cappen Varra, who came to Norren an age ago, in a time and place we really can't remember anymore.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .wled there for a while, his bruised body refusing movement. A weary sailor with a bucket glared at him through dripping hair. His shout was dim under the hoot and skirl of wind: "If ye like it so well down here, then help us bail!"

"'Tis not yet my turn," groaned Cappen, and got slowly up.

The wave which had nearly swamped them had put out the ship's fire and drenched the wood beyond hope of lighting a new one. It was cold fish and sea-sodden hardtack till they saw land again—if they ever did.

As Cappen raised himself on the leeward side, he thought he saw something gleam, far out across the wrathful night. A wavering red spark— He brushed a stiffened hand across his eyes, wondering if the madness of wind and water had struck through into his own skull. A gust of sleet hid it again. But—

He fumbled his way aft between the benches. Huddled figures cursed him wearily as he stepped on them. The ship. . . Read More

Community Reviews

A short story about a minstrel, Cappen Varra, who is forced to go to an island of trolls for fire. There he finds a female troll who is ready for her next meal.

Very short but entertaining. My first by this author but I will have to check more by him.

The Valor of Cappen Varra is a short story by Poul Anderson that fits in with his fantasy / historical fiction canon.

Here Anderson re-tells an old Norse legend about a minstrel who is short on stature but long on cleverness and even features a troll. The author does an excellent job at using descri

While I have been much more familiar with Anderson's science fiction work, this piece of ancient lore reimagined makes for a very good read and gives greater depth to his library of writings. It is short and doesn't require much time to read although the interesting style and setting make it somewha

I recommend sticking with Poul's sci-fi.

The Valor of Cappen Varra, by Poul Anderson
When the small dude is singled out and ridiculed, and dispensable as canon-fodder .. well it is always a joy to see them become the hero - outwitting an ugly troll. ***

If I was a fan of fantasy, I’m sure I would have given this story a 3/5 or perhaps even a 4/5. My personal preference, however, has made this a 2/5 mostly because of the context surrounding this story in which I read it. For some strange reason, this story was included in poul andersons best of scie

A quick fun read about the value of believing.

A fun little story about Varra, the nonheroic hero and peacock. Its even better if you remember the old Thieves World/Sanctuary fantasy collection.

What would you do if you were a minstrel tossed by Vikings onto a sea-swept island to gather firewood and fire from the troll that lives there and find yourself with a princess to save?

Great story, not much valor, but lots of humor.

A very short piece, and possibly it's brevity contributed to my lukewarm response. However, truth be told, I do n't cotton much to sci-fi/fantasy as a genre and admit that I need to undertake some serious exploration before I write it off completely going forward. (At this point in my reading schedu

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