Friday, April 03, 2009

Alan Garner

Imagine. A group of children fight magical forces in another world. Ghostly hunts cross the skies, hounds baying for their prey. A silver tea service is the key to breaking an ancient curse. These images are part of the Fantasy worlds of author Alan Garner. He is a talented writer that brings magic to life with descriptive words. Though he hasn’t produced any books, the existing ones are all Fantasy gems.

The Weirdstone of Brisingamen is the first of Mr. Garner’s books. It tells the story of two youngsters, Colin and Susan, that move to a country home in England. While wandering through the woods, they are captured by dangerous creatures. A wizard named Cadellin rescues them. The children help him by going on a quest and are helped by the magical stone of the title.

In the next book, which is a sequel, The Moon of Gomrath, Susan and Colin release the Wild Hunt. The wizard Cadellin helps them again. Colin must save his sister from the effects of an ancient magic. Some Arthurian elements slip i nto both books with the king and his warriors sleeping under the hill. Mr. Garner imbues both books with vivid images of imaginative detail.

Elidor is a Contemporary Fantasy that straddles two worlds. The story begins in a depressed neighborhood of Manchester, England. Some youngsters find their way into the Fantasy world of Elidor. They are needed to save this world and restore its magic. The children flee back to our world with magical objects and the unicorn Findhorn, pursued by evil. A suspenseful tale ensues with Mr. Garner’s usual descriptive talent.

Perhaps his most powerful book is The Owl Service. This Fantasy possesses a mythic quality that resonates deeply with the reader. The story takes place in a Welsh village where the inhabitants are curse Ød to repeat the tragic myth of the woman made of flowers. Allison, Gwyn and Roger find an old bunch of plates with owls on them. One of the owls disappears, setting the myth in motion. The three young people must strive to break the curse before it ends in tragedy again. The characters are well drawn and the setting of the Welsh village is very realistic. This is a Mythic Fantasy not to be missed.

Alan Garner is not a prolific author, but his few books are gems in the Fantasy genre. Do not let the Young Adult label deter you either. He uses vivid descriptions and images to bring his worlds to life. Welsh and Arthurian myths blend with realistic British settings to create memorable stories of ordinary characters. Mr. Garner is an author worth seeking out. Hopefully, he will create more stories in the future.

Other books:

The Strandloper

The Voice That Thunders - This is his biography.

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