The King of Elfland's Daughter - Lord Dunsany, Neil Gaiman a tale out of time: an old myth reinvented; a new myth born. a wayward bride, a forlorn husband, their son - a pitiless hunter. a defiant old woman; a melancholy old man. trolls delight in delight; unicorns are for slaughter. question: what is Time in Elfland? answer: a fantasy! twelve men want magic. madmen shall take captive a king. borders shall be crossed and boundaries may be as fleeting as dreams. be wary of what you wish for! love shall conquer all and death shall be no more.

prose like poetry, like music. the novel: a silvery lake stretching to shores unknown. i gazed at this lake by day and its surface shone with sunlight: the world and all its colors flamed bright and fierce. i took a lonely boat ride by night and its surface glistened with moonlight, reflecting the beyond... i stared into those starry depths and saw the infinite: an entrancing sight!

☼ ☾ ☀


☼ ☾ ☀

message 5: by mark

i read the first 50 pages last night. love it so far. especially enjoyed all the animals' (and the child's) reactions to the troll.

i thought i had read this novel many years ago, but none of it feels familiar. so maybe not.

some really lovely writing overall.

message 6: by mark

read another 50 pages in the park today. a perfect place to read this novel.

still impressed by the charm of Dunsany's flowing prose. and the subtlety, the pointed comments here and there. like the bit around the king taking the 'witless lad' from a mother who knows that her son will accomplish more staying at home then going on some foolish quest with a foolish king. but kings will take what they want.

also really enjoyed the equally subtle, equally barbed depiction of the depressing, unnecessary finiteness of organized religion that will automatically call 'heathen' any activity that is directed towards nature and the cosmos rather than towards rituals and memorization.

message 7: by mark

i fear i may be propping up this thread as if it were my own personal journal!

anyway, two bits of Dunsany's commentary that i thought were particularly well-done:
"He was an incongruous figure with his stave and his sack and his sword; but he followed one idea, one inspiration, one hope; and so shared something of the strangeness that all men have who do this."

"And now the four that were left were all of one mind, and under the wet coarse cloth that they hung on poles there was deep content in the evenings. For Alveric clung to his hope with all the strength of his race, that had once won Erl in old battles and held it for centuries long, and in the vacant minds of Niv and Zend this idea grew strong and big, like some rare flower that a gardener may plant by chance in a wild untended place. And Thyl sung of the hope; and all his wild fancies that roamed after song decked Alveric's quest with more and more of glamour. So all were of one mind. And greater quests whether mad or sane have prospered when this was so, and greater quests have failed when it was otherwise."

message 8: by mark

also, Orion hunts and kills a unicorn. disgusting! i am no longer on your team, Orion.

although that was a rather amazing chapter. the final lines were startling.

message 12: by mark

more unicorn hunting, argh! this is such a turn-off to me. i'm not even automatically against hunting, as long as the meat is used. but unicorns are basically magic horses - and who hunts horses for chrissakes.

still, the novel remains a pleasure. loved the chapter with Orion almost stepping into Elfland, but getting pulled back by his faithful hounds.

loved the part with the Freer (Friar? not familiar with the word "Freer") condemning magic and then while walking home, utters a spell against magic. ha! delicious bit of irony. Dunsany's stance on this fake binary set up by the Freer is clear.

and man that whole chapter on Lurulu the troll acquainting himself with earthly ways, and earthly time, was just marvelous. it was wonderful to see how Dunsany describes the passing of earthly time in such a way that it felt as strange and magical as elfland itself.

message 13: by mark

finished it tonight. wonderful! the chapter with the Elfland King trying to soothe his daughter had some of the most beautiful writing i've ever read. the ending, the slowly moving line as Elfland takes over Erl... entrancing. the whole novel is magically written. prose like poetry, like music.

for two far superior reviews of this splendid classic, read the ones by Mark and Keely: