e.r. eddison had a world inside of him & that world is amazing. i'm pretty jaw-dropped over this. the basic plot involves a clash between the lords of demonland-- lord juss, his brothers goldry bluszco & spitfire, & their friend brandoch daha-- against the lords of witchland-- foremost the king gorice, along with his advisors corund, corsus, & corinius & the treasonous lord gro of goblinland. first off, the country names? i've mentioned being swayed away from totally made-up nouns, with some leeway given for con-langs, right? but this book has, along with plenty of made-up words, also impland, pixieland, & so forth. be still my heart! really i think the thing that tells most true is that he started creating this mythology when he was ten years old. it adds levels of nuance that, by seeming slightly askew, add verisimilitude in spades.
the work itself is written in a very archaic style, which itself devolves into middle-english whenever a correspondence or song intrudes. for all that, for all the over-wrought thrones carved of a single gem & mountains reaching to the heavens, it captured me entirely. to be fair, i'm a fan of tolkien's silmarillion as well-- & i suppose it bears mentioning that this was a fairly major influence on tolkien's writings. as for the format of the book, it possesses some very sophisticated flourishes. it gives equal attention to both the "heroes" & the "villains" of the tale, dwelling as much in the fortress of carcë in witchland as with the lords of demonland on their adventures. none of the characters are thoughtless cut-outs & all of them are very compelling. women don't enter into the story until a good bit of it has gone past, but when they do they do they are if not progressive than at least full-formed. as for the over-all construction of the tale? lets just say that there is a fairly post-modern hook dragging the fish along.
how did i like it? it sat me down in a very nice chair, poured me a cocktail, & then slapped me in the face. seriously, the fight against the manticore might be my favorite fight i've ever seen in print. you know, i picked this up thinking i'd be just paying my dues to a past fabulist, someone who laid foundations, but instead i found that this guy built a palace, or a tower, something vast & magnificent. i can't give it an earnest enough recommendation. it might require a bit of a buy-in, it might require that you like, i don't know, high diction & fantastic worlds, but if you have that, this is the thing for you. i don't know what i am going to read next, but this is a pretty hard act to follow. oh, by the way, brandoch daha's battlecry is "who meddles with brandoch daha?" & his mottto is "ye braggers an 'a', be skeered and awa' frae brandoch daha." which is pretty hard-core.