Doom, that is the word to describe Poul Anderson’s 1954 fantasy novel The Broken Sword. The tale marvelously evokes the Dark Ages and the world of Faerie as neither has been before or since. It is a fast paced tale of action and adventure suffused with tragedy, betrayal, cruelty, loss, and inexorable doom.
Like all good Viking tales, The Broken Sword is about family. Orm the Strong is a Viking chief who settles down in England. But his bloody rise to power has earned him an enemy who causes his first-born to be replaced with a changeling from the world of Faerie. The doppelgangers are sent separate ways, one to be a prince among the elves, the other to become an outcast among men until he realizes his destiny lies among the trolls. They come together when their tribes wage an all out war for control of the hidden world of Faerie.
The Broken Sword is almost too dark for mainstream tastes. That is what makes it so perfectly suited for the grim 21st century.