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The Sundering Flood
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The Sundering Flood

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Author: William Morris
Publisher: Ballantine Books, 1973
Kelmscott Press, 1897
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Book Type: Novel
Genre: Fantasy
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Synopsis

Osberne Wulfgrimsson and Elfhild are lovers who live on opposite sides of the Sundering Flood, an immense river. When Elfhild disappears during an invasion by the Red Skinners, the heartbroken Osberne takes up his magical sword Boardcleaver and joins the army of Sir Godrick of Longshaw, in whose service he helps dethrone the tyrannical king and plutocracy of merchants ruling the city at the mouth of the river. Afterwards he locates Elfhild, who had fled with a relative, a wise woman skilled in the magical arts, and taken refuge in the Wood Masterless. Elfhild tells Osberne of their adventures en route to safety. Afterwards they return together to Wethrmel, Osberne's home, and all ends happily.


Excerpt

It is told that there was once a mighty river which ran south into the sea, and at the mouth thereof was a great and rich city, which had been builded and had waxed and thriven because of the great and most excellent haven which the river aforesaid made where it fell into the sea. And now it was like looking at a huge wood of barked and smoothened fir-trees when one saw the masts of the ships that lay in the said haven.

But up in this river ran the flood of tide a long way, so that the biggest of dromonds and round-ships might fare up it, and oft they lay amid pleasant up-country places, with their yards all but touching the windows of the husbandman's stead, and their bowsprits thrusting forth amongst the middens, and the routing swine, and querulous hens. And the uneasy lads and lasses sitting at high-mass of the Sunday in the grey church would see the tall masts amidst the painted saints of the aisle windows, and their minds would wander from the mass-hackled priest and the words and the gestures of him, and see visions of far countries and outlandish folk, and some would be heart-smitten with that desire of wandering and looking on new things which so oft the sea-beat board and the wind-strained pine bear with them to the dwellings of the stay-at-homes: and to some it seemed as if, when they went from out the church, they should fall in with St. Thomas of India stepping over the gangway, and come to visit their uplandish Christmas and the Yule-feast of the field-abiders of midwinter frost. And moreover, when the tide failed, and there was no longer a flood to bear the sea-going keels up-stream (and that was hard on an hundred of miles from the sea), yet was this great river a noble and wide-spreading water, and the downlong stream thereof not so heavy nor so fierce but that the barges and lesser keels might well spread their sails when the south-west blew, and fare on without beating; or if the wind were fouler for them, they that were loth to reach from shore to shore might be tracked up by the draught of horses and bullocks, and bear the wares of the merchants to many a cheaping.

Copyright © 1897 by William Morris


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