The Hammer and the Cross

The Hammer and the Cross

infobox Book |
name = The Hammer and the Cross
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption =
author = Harry Harrison
cover_artist =
country = United States
language = English
series = The Hammer and the Cross
genre = Science Fiction/Fantasy novel
publisher = Tor Books
release_date = 1993
media_type = Print (Hardback & Paperback) & Audio book
pages =
isbn = ISBN 0-8125-2348-2
preceded_by =
followed_by = One King's Way

"The Hammer and the Cross" is the first in the series of novels written by Harry Harrison and John Holm, the pseudonym for the Tolkien scholar Tom Shippey. The book chronicles the rise of the protagonist Shef, a bastard son of a Viking and an English lady. The book is set in the 9th century England where Viking raids are common and presents an alternate history to the one we know.

Within this realm, author Harry Harrison brings to light what may have happened if the Vikings gave more of a fight against the rather harsh, at that point in time, rule of the Catholic Church. Central to this theme is protagonist Shef, a thrall under the eye of his stepfather Wulfgar, a ruthless thane of East Anglia. Early in the story an ambivalence concerning Shef's birth is introduced: Is Shef the son of the Norse god Ríg? Is he descended from a Viking named Sigvarth? The ambiguity holds through the trilogy.

The story begins, as previously stated, with Shef as a thrall in a thane's service. When he's not busy doing mundane tasks, Shef finds himself at the village blacksmith where his talents and an urge for invention live inside him. The action begins when Shef's stepsister Godive is taken by Sigvarth during his raid on their village. Shef and his friend Hund proceed to the encampment in which the Ragnarssons have inhabited.

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