The Sundering Flood
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The Sundering Flood is a fantasy novel by William Morris, perhaps the first modern fantasy writer to unite an imaginary world with the element of the supernatural, and thus the precursor of much of present-day fantasy literature. The Sundering Flood was Morris' last work of fiction, completed only in rough draft, with the ending dictated from his deathbed. It was edited posthumously by his daughter May into finished form for publication and published in 1897.
Morris considered his fantasies a revival of the medieval tradition of chivalrous romances; consequently, they tend to have sprawling plots of strung-together adventures. His use of archaic language has been seen as difficult by some modern readers.
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.
It was first published posthumously in hardcover by Morris' Kelmscott Press in 1897. Its importance in the history of fantasy literature was recognized by its republication by Ballantine Books as the fifty-seventh volume of the celebrated Ballantine Adult Fantasy series in May, 1973. The Ballantine edition includes an introduction by Lin Carter.
- The Sundering Flood in The Collected Works of William Morris Volume XXI, Longmans Green & Co, 1914, at Project Gutenberg