Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Swan Knight’s Son: Chapter Three

Being kicked out of your house in the most loving way by a mother trying to protect you may seem a is hardly the most heroic hero’s call to appear in fiction, but it’s perfectly in keeping with the tale of Gil’s life to date.  Sadly, there just isn’t much call for knights in the modern world, nor is there much call for teenage boys whose entire skill set consists of knight errantry.  And so we see Wright’s whimsy at its finest as Gil turns his back on the world of man and instead looks to the world of animals.  In what may be one of my favorite passages in the book, he asks the rabbits for guidance:
Another rabbit emerged from the grass just then. "Sire, I could not but overhear the conversation. Knighthood is one of those theories whose days are past! Rabbits are forward-looking! It is not for nothing that we have such ears, to hear of all the latest trends in the newest thought! Running away is the new fashion!
Other rabbit voices now came from the grasses. "Quite so! Everyone agrees," said one, and another said, "Always listen to rabbits! We have the more recent and most profound ideas on all matters! and a third, "A consensus has been reached, the debate is over!" 
That passage contains a tremendous amount of subtext to anyone familiar with the r/K political theories put for by the Anonymous Conservative.  Suffice it to say, if you see it, you don't need it pointed out to you.  If you don't see it, you might not ever understand.

At this point we deviate from our survey of Swan Knight’s Son and turn our eyes towards the internet.  Reading this book, I kept stumbling over memorable passages that I had already read.  The above was the first to jog my memory, but there are a dozen others scattered through the book.  While the overall narrative of the book strikes this reader as an exercise in world-building and straight narrative dumps, the exposition heavy narrative the runs like a thread through much of the book is largely softened by these frequent passages of pure whimsy.  Ruff in particular is a gold mine of fun little vignettes and amusing glimpses into what the world looks like to a dog.

This chapter also lays much of the groundwork for the rest of the book.  Gil’s search for a job runs parallel to his search for the truth of his patrimony as every time he asks an animal about potential work in the woods, he winds up talking to them about his lineage – to varying effects on both counts.
The rabbits and birds and the wolf all mention the terrible reputation that elfs have in the mundane world.  Gil asks everyone about them, but no one will give him straight answers out of fear of retribution.  They will only tell him that the elfs put mists into the eyes of men to make them forget, and that they have spies everywhere.  They also set up Gil’s later meeting with the mermaid of the falls, a cousin of Gil’s who will prove to be one of his better guides through (and literally into) the world of the elfs.

Interestingly enough, the most talkative of the animals Gil meets is a wolf.  Although he demands payment first, the wolf spells out that Gil is half-human and half-elf, and as such is a member of the Moth family.  I like to think that the lone wolf Krasny treated fairly with Gil because he recognized a fellow traveler.  They are both outcasts not truly welcomed by their own kind.
We also get a peek into yet another world, or perhaps a peek into one of those thin places where multiple worlds meet.  In this chapter multiple animals tie Native American myths into the same cosmology as the European myths.  The Cherokee habit of sending men to their deaths over a raging water fall and the ghost dance both make an appearance.  These little touches, hints at a wider world, are always welcome in fantasy takes that rewrite history and myth to its own accord.

In the end, Gil is a little closer to both work and his true heritage, but the reader has been primed for bigger and better chapters down the road.


  1. There's a callback in Swan Knight's Sword to the rabbits. Many other jokes and references made in Son are paid off in Sword as well. While Castalia House might have made the right financial decision to split the single book of Green Knight's Squire into three book, the three books ought to be read back to back. Like Lord of the Rings, Green Knight's Squire is one story seamlessly told among three tomes.

  2. I noticed that when I hit the 'end' of this book!