- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 886 KB
- Print Length: 288 pages
- Publisher: Gollancz (17 October 2013)
- Sold by: Hachette Book Group (AU)
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00FAT9G1K
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Customer Reviews: 67 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #308,316 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Lud-In-The-Mist Kindle Edition
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|Length: 288 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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From the Back Cover
Lud-in-the-Mist is a prosperous country town situated where two rivers meet: the Dawl and the Dapple. The Dapple springs from the land of Faerie, and is a great trial to Lud, which rejects anything 'other', preferring to believe only in what is known, what is solid.
Nathaniel Chanticleer, a dreamy, melancholy man, is deliberately ignoring a vital part of his own past; a secret he refuses even to acknowledge. But with the disappearance of his daughter, and a long-overdue desire to protect his son, he realises Lud is changing - and something must be done.
'A Shakespearian tragi-comedy, a murder mystery, and a multi-faceted allegory all in one; and a damn good story, too' Mary Gentle
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But Hope Mirrlees' enchanting fantasy "Lud-in-the-Mist" defies many such fantasy cliches, written as if "The Hobbit" had been spun up by Lord Dunsany. It's a sweet pastoral story that slowly blossoms out into a very unique story -- there's a little murder mystery, an amusing village of hobbity people, and a quicksilver dream of beautiful fairyland and otherworldly danger.
Fairy is forbidden in the town of Lud -- not just fairy creatures and their exquisite fruit, but mentions of them, the dead who walk with them, and the Duke Aubrey who left with them.
But all his life, the steadfastly dull Mayor Nathaniel Chanticleer has a lingering longing/fear for a strangely magical musical note. Despite all this, life remains boring and rather pleasant -- until Chanticleer's son Ranulph begins acting strangely, claiming that he's eaten fairy fruit.
After Chanticleer sends his son off to a farm for a vacation, the teenage girls at Miss Primrose's Crabapple Academy suddenly seem to go pleasantly nuts, and then race off into the hills. Life seems to seep out of the old town,and Nathaniel must connect the present crises to a past conspiracy, all of which hinges on Fairyland, fairy fruit, and the sinister doctor Endymion Leer. The journey to discover the truth will take him out of the everyday world -- and change him forever.
Haunting music, mad dancing, and ethereal meadows filled with fairy people and strange flowers. All through "Lud-in-the-Mist," there's the underlying feeling that there's a frightening, exquisite world that is barely separated from ours. Rather than cliche elves with pointy ears, it relies on a dreamlike atmosphere and faraway lands that are only glimpsed in passing.
Originally written in 1926, Hope Mirrlees' third book is an utterly unique experience -- it takes place in a pleasantly ordinary British town and charming pastoral towns, with fairy magic seeping into the cracks. And it's something of a love ode to "fairy" -- even though the inhabitants of Lud cherish their prosperous, staid existance, the the strange and exquisite blooms over the course of the book.
And Mirrlees' writing is capable of bringing that to life -- she intertwines a fantasy, a murder mystery and a personal journey into one. The first part of the book is written in a pleasantly cozy, mellow style that focuses on the colourful, staid town of Lud. But as the story blossoms into a tangle of crises and mysteries, Mirrlees' writing becomes more lush, exquisite and haunting.
Chanticleer is very reminiscent of Bilbo Baggins -- he's pleasant, boring, stodgy but has a brave, eccentric interior that helps him become a very unusual hero. And the other inhabitants of Lud are similarly engaging and just a little bit quirky -- fairy-struck teenagers, snippy old ladies, the haughty farmer's wife, the quietly malevolent Endymion Leer, and the happily mad people.
"Lud-in-the-Mist" emerged before the mold was made for fantasy novels, and its exquisitely funny writing shows why it's an enduring classic.
Top international reviews
Mirrlees draws on her knowledge of classical mythology, folklore and superstition to construct a complex fantasy world centred on the country of Dorimare. Dorimare has a traumatic history, once a land of magic ruled over by the despotic Duke Aubrey it’s now a republic firmly rooted in the material and the mundane, exemplified by its capital the prosperous commercial town Lud-in-the-Mist. Yet the memory of a past ‘dim and evil, a heap of rotting leaves’ although repressed refuses to entirely disappear, the geography of Dorimare won’t allow that: to the south is the sea, north and east are mountains, in the middle regions a lush plain but in the west past the Debatable Hills lies Fairyland, unvisited for centuries. The west, in myth and folklore, is often associated with the setting sun and the ‘land of the dead’ so perhaps it’s unsurprising that no traveller has ever returned from Fairyland to tell their tale. The only trace of Fairyland in Dorimare is the illicit trade in fairy fruit which - as in Christina Rossetti’s ‘Goblin Market’ or the myth of Persephone- has sinister connotations and even more sinister effects for anyone who eats it. The citizens of Dorimare are so anxious to avoid contamination by fairy fruit that anyone who’s suspected of consuming it will be shunned.
The central character of Mirrlees’s story is Master Nathaniel Chanticleer the newly-elected mayor of Lud-in-the-Mist. Chanticleer’s from a prominent family, like his fellow Ludites he appears to take pride in a ‘lack of imagination’ and ‘inability to feel serious emotion’, yet he has a secret fear. As a child he came across an ancient relic from Dorimare’s past, a lute which gave out a note ‘so plangent, blood-freezing and alluring’ that it continues to haunt him – the ‘allure’ suggests a link to the siren song referenced in the novel’s epigraph. The ‘note’ sets him apart and his name – the rooster in fairy tales and fables – suggests he will be instrumental in some kind of ‘awakening’. The story takes off after Chanticleer’s son may have eaten fairy fruit, this is followed by a series of mysterious events: at Crabapple’s Academy for Young Ladies the soles of its pupils’ slippers are worn down by their obsessive, near-ritualistic dancing, like the legendary Maenads they may have conjured up ancient spirits or ghosts; the town is rife with suspicions of hidden identities, murder, and the sense that facts are ‘losing their solidity’, it seems that finally Fairyland must be confronted.
I found this novel fascinating for its construction of other worlds and its invocation of myth and legend. It’s beautifully written, lucid and packed with lush imagery particularly that of the natural world. Mirrlees also introduces familiar tropes that were interesting to track and identify: Chanticleer the unlikely hero forced to undertake a quest for knowledge, although the quest is more an internal one which forces him to question his beliefs; the idea of the world beyond borders which harbours the unknown, a source of pollution, that is simultaneously denied and desired. It was easy to see why the novel’s been subjected to a range of academic considerations of fantasy literature; its themes of mortality, desire and transgression allow for a multiplicity of interpretations, Freudian and beyond. However, as a general reader I found this a challenging read, not in terms of the writing but the structure, for me far too much space is given to exposition at the expense of plot; it wasn't until late in the story that I had any real sense of what the novel’s concerns might be. Although that uncertainty was also pleasurable, the novel was clearly written in relation to the complex, mysterious fairy tales that preceded it –George MacDonald’s for instance – rather than the fantasy novels that came after, which meant that the narrative didn’t progress in accordance with genre conventions I could easily identify. Overall, I think this book is worth reading but only if the reader is prepared to match their pace with its own leisurely steps, otherwise I think it could be a frustrating encounter.
I expected the heroes of the story to be the young people - perhaps the honest stable-lad Luke. But in a rather nice twist - even though the genre didn't exist in the same way to twist - the heroes are two fat, middle aged, bureaucrats. In most fantasy novels, these men would be small parts, providing either comic relief, or a barrier to the protagonists, or both. It was great to see a story from their perspective. I found the main character, Nathan, likeable and I was able to empathise with him even though he's very different from me.
There's a decent plot with a bit of mystery and some mild peril, although it's not exciting in the way that many fantasy adventures are. It is easy to read and you wouldn't necessarily realise it was written so long ago from the language. The turn of phrase might occasionally sound old-fashioned, but that isn't out of place in a fantasy novel of this type where the technology and culture are usually set 'behind-the-times'.
Overall it is an enjoyable fantasy novel and I think knowing how long ago it was written adds interest to it. Fantasy fans will find it an interesting read for that reason and the story is good.
Written in 1926 this book was for a longtime out of print and forgotten before being rediscovered in the 90s, to the greatest happiness of fantasy lovers. This element only adds to the aura of mystery surrounding Lud-in-the-mist, the imaginary town in an alternative world where most of the action takes place. I swallowed this book fast the first time and then I read it a second time, in a deliberately slower way, to enjoy it even more. I warmly recommend it to anybody who likes fantasy but also to a wider public, willing to discover an old, half forgotten treasure.
I must however add one - very limited - ounce of criticism. I didn't like the last three chapters (XXX to XXXII). I do not want to take off one star for that, but in my modest opinion this book would be perfect, if it have stopped at the last line of chapter XXIX. So if I can offer an advice, the first time you read this book, stop at that moment, then give yourself a couple of days to savour this experience, and only then read the last three chapters. If you like them, fine. And if you do not, well, you will have always the memory of your first impression...
This is an excellent book, a rare jewel - to buy, read, keep and pass to your children.
There are many stories modern and old which involve fairies, and the land of Fairie - this has many similarities with those, and, in many cases was perhaps an influence thereon. The dancing, the hidden, devious nature, and many other things are facets which are found in later books, for example the superb Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - I wondered if this was an influence there.
It's easy to understand why Neil Gaiman would pick it out as an influence.
After a few chapters, it became compulsive reading, and a film must surely be feasible if it's not already been done.
A great book, which delivered many unexpected pleasures.
If you're a fan of Jonathon Strange, I really recommend this.