Rhinegold

Stephan Grundy, Author Bantam Books $23.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-553-09545-6
Grundy's epic first novel, which takes its name from Wagner but the bulk of its plot from the Norse Volsunga Saga , does a skillful job of handling the youth of Sigifrith, his revenge for his father Sigimund's death and his battle with the dragon Fadhmir. Even better is the grisly, intriguing portrayal of Sigimund, his twin Sigilind and their child Sinfjotli, all caught in one of those horrid Norse nets of revenge and counter-revenge. Unfortunately, once Sigifrith has gained his fame and ventures among the Burgundians (Gundahari, Gundrun and Hagan), the pace slows. It's not entirely the author's fault: the Volsunga Saga isn't concerned with the legal complexities that underlie and undermine Wotan's power, so Grundy doesn't have the frisson of a Gotterdammerung for an ending--just Huns slaughtering Burgundians and Burgundians returning the favor. Still, his more historical approach in the novel's last third clots the story with extraneous names and events that mute the legend's impact. In addition, Grundy's dialogue often seems inappropriate to his generally skaldic narrative. (``Muspell, shit. I heard there's a dwarf-sized smith on the Rhine who's forging 'em.'') On balance, though, this is a good rousing read. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/1994
Release date: 03/01/1994
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Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-553-56945-2
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