Monday, July 5, 2010

Thomas Burnett Swann revisited

Long time ago (ie, in the 1970s and early 80s) I lapped up everything by Thomas Burnett Swann -- at least everything I bought at the time. There were three titles that escaped me then: The Goat Without Horns, Wolfwinter and Queens Walk in Dust. I managed to obtain them over the years and promptly filed them on the shelves waiting to be read. Yesterday, I finally started on Goat. I wish I could say that I'm enjoying it as much as I enjoyed TBS' work when first encountered.

The story is narrated by a dolphin -- and yes, that does seem odd. But if you've read Swann you'll know that he plundered various myths and legends for his exquisite fantasies. However, because much of the action takes part on dry land, the dolphin is telling the story from a distance -- and that distance makes the tale feel stilted (not finished it yet and so it may improve). The story is set in the late 19th century -- and the attitudes displayed by the English about lesser souls is telling. And it's a little uncomfortable to be reminded of those attitudes.

However, reading Goat has encouraged me to revisit Day of the Minotaur and The Forest of Forever.

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