The Literary Blog Hop is a weekly event hosted by The Blue Bookcase.
What Literary title do you love that has been under-appreciated? We all know about the latest Dan Brown and James Patterson isn’t hurting for publicity. What quiet masterpiece do you want more readers to know?
Two pieces of fiction came to my mind the moment I read this question – The Song of Albion trilogy by Stephen R Lawhead and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke. Both books fall under the fantasy genre and are absolutely exceptional. I do not know, for a certainity the amount of attention Clarke’s book has had internationlly, but I do know that her book is not widely heard of where I am. As for Lawhead, he does not seem to be well-known, but those who read his works love them.
Of the one - Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is a thousand-odd page novel that describes a make-believe magical revival during the very real era of 19th century England, set during the Napoleanic wars. At this time magic as an art is no longer practiced. It has
With so many pages to go through, I never once felt its length. I found it, at once, a delight and yet subtly interspersed with the element of horror. Little by-stories inserted into the footnotes added to the overall atmosphere. In short, I have never read anything like it. Personally, I would consider this book, up there with the canon of fantasy literature.
And of the other - While I might refer, now to Lawhead’s Song of Albion series, I would have to say at the very outset, that what I have read of him places him up with fantasy literary writers, in my book. This particular series is the only one of its kind that Lawhead has ever written, yet it is incredibly beautiful. The story is of a whiny, young, Oxford history student, who finds himself in the Otherworld to get his friend back. However, once on the otherside he is hindered by many factors and is forced to become a man. From a man, he becomes a warrior and a king. It is upto him, Llew, to restore the balance between the world he comes from and the world he has come to love – a balance whose scales have been dangerously tipped by the corruption that Llew’s Oxford friend has brought with him.
The whole story is rather Celtic in nature and full of an etherial, otherworldly quality. When I read this trilogy I could feel myself being lifted to heights of wonder and joy, and then dropped down into the pits of horror and dismay. Lawhead’s language is contemporary, but so craftily used that it is very lyrical. There is music in the words and the soul of the story. The Song is the very essence and life of the world of Albion, and it is also the pulse that throbs through this trilogy.
A warning: to those of you who would like to give the Song of Albion a go, the first hundred-and-fifty pages are rather slow, as they set the outline for the rest of the story. After that you begin to experience the magic.