Expecting Someone Taller
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Orbit (1988) paperback edition cover
|Genre||Satirical Fantasy novel|
St. Martin's Press
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|Preceded by||Lucia Triumphant|
|Followed by||Who's Afraid of Beowulf?|
Expecting Someone Taller is the first humorous fantasy novel by popular British author Tom Holt. It was first published in hardcover in 1987, by Macmillan Publishers in the United Kingdom, and by St. Martin's Press in the United States. A UK paperback edition was released in 1988 by Futura Orbit in 1988, and a US paperback edition was released in 1990 by Ace Books. The book was released in the 5th omnibus of Holt's books entitled Tall Stories.
The story involves Malcolm Fisher, a hapless auction clerk in modern-day England, who runs over a badger one night. The badger turns out to be the giant Ingolf, brother of Fafnir, and Fisher becomes the new owner of the Ring of the Nibelung and the Tarnhelm, and, thereby, ruler of the world. He also drinks some of the Ingolf's blood, which gives him the ability to understand the language of the birds. He finds that if he allows himself any negative emotions such as anger or frustration, he will cause various catastrophes worldwide. Thus Malcolm tries to be as positive as possible in his day-to-day life. He uses the ring to gain enough gold to buy a mansion and tries to live a quiet life.
However, Wotan, king of the gods, still wants the ring, as do others, and Fisher finds himself pursued by numerous characters from Wagner's opera: Wotan and Loge (also known as Odin and Loki in Norse mythology), the Rhinemaidens (who want their gold back), and Alberich (who stole the gold, made the ring and still wants it). He also becomes romantically entangled, first with the Rhinemaiden Flosshilde, and later with one of the Valkyries, Ortlinde. Malcolm is unaware of the Valkyrie's true identity and does intend to give the ring to her, but a bird reveals to him who she truly is. It is then revealed that his housekeeper is actually Erde (Mother Earth), mother of the Valkyries. Despite this, he continues to believe himself in love with Ortlinde. Malcolm still intends to give her the ring, but she leaves. Wotan then resorts to sending an army. Malcolm faces the army and destroys it as well as all the high gods, by force of will and the power of The Ring. Malcolm fears that he has also destroyed Flosshilde whom he now knows he loves, but it turns out she was just visiting her cousins. When she returns he gives her the ring, believing she will do a better job—and because he thinks that the ring is now merely a token of his love and not the all important Ruling Ring. He keeps the tarnhelm which gives him immortality.
The novel was nominated for a Crawford Award by the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts in 1991 .
- McMillan, London, 1987 — ISBN 0-333-44002-1
- St. Martin's, NY, 1987 — ISBN 0-312-01426-0
- Futura Orbit, London 1988 — ISBN 0-7088-8264-1
- Ace Books, NY, 1990 — ISBN 0-441-22332-X
- ISBN 1-85723-181-3