Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The Finnbranch Trilogy by Paul Hazel

I'm going on a trip, so the post is early. Enjoy.

In the 1980's a new Epic Fantasy trilogy was published. "The Finnbranch" by Paul Hazel is a rich Fantasy of deep thoughts. Blending Celtic and Nordic mythology, readers have a dark story of tragic characters, imaginative settings, descriptive language and mythic themes. The books follow the story of Finn through his quest to reclaim his birthright.

The first book, Yearwood, starts in a mountain fortress with a boy who knows nothing abut his father or his own name. Since his mother won't tell him anything but his name, he goes on a search for his father. His journey takes him through a twisted path of talking crows, living stones, witches and selkies. Honorable men follow him on his quest. Dark and disturbing, there is incest and a terrible conclusion, but the story continues in the next book.

Undersea continues Finn's story through many further episodes. In this book he travels to the past and meets his mother as a girl. After suffering attacks, Finn flees in a boat. He suffers death and is reborn as his son Lugh. On his next part of the journey he meets two companions and travels through the undersea kingdom of the dead. Interspersed are episodes from the future when he is king of his land. This book deepens the themes. There are wonderful descriptive passages of incredible images. At times, the story is convoluted and can be confusing. It is worth reading at a slow pace. The book leaves readers ready for the final book.

The last book is Winterking, continuing Finn's story in a strange modern world. A man named Wykeham is the main character who is very mysterious. He moves through this world hiding the truth about his life. Other characters are drawn to him that sets off a fantastic series of events that concludes Finn's journey of birth and rebirth. The blend of Native American and Celtic myth in a strange alternate America gives this book a vivid impact and conclusion to the trilogy.

Paul Hazel is a Fantasy writer of wild fantastic images and evocative language. With the "Finnbranch" trilogy he contributed an outstanding addition to Epic Fantasy. His use of different mythologies and a capable knowledge of writing technique gives Fantasy readers an incredible experience. Though his books are out of print and he hasn't written anything new since Wealdwive's Tale, his works are worth seeking out for a powerful reading experience.

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