Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Swan Knight's Son: The Conversation

Swan Knight's Son is the youngest Puppy pick so far, having only been published for four months as of the date this post was written.  Like with last month's Thune's Vision, hunting down review links has been a challenge.  However, we found the following takes on Swan Knight's Son, each providing a different viewpoint and voice in the conversation.


John C. Wright discusses how he created his elfs, as well as the perceived conflict between fantasy's magic and religion:
I had noticed for some time that there was many a younger reader whose mental picture of the elves (those inhabitants of the Perilous Realm, the Otherworld, whose ways are not our ways) was formed entirely by JRR Tolkien and his imitators. Tolkien elves are basically prelapsarian men: like us in stature and passions, but nobler, older, and not suffering our post-Edenic divorce from the natural world. This is not alien to the older themes and material on which Tolkien drew, but there is alongside this an older and darker version.
This darker version is one which Tolkien did not draw upon, except, perhaps, in the scene in THE HOBBIT when the starving dwarves come upon the elves of Mirkwood feasting. When they step forward, the campfirelight vanishes, the elves disappear, and the dwarves are thrown into an enchanted sleep. That is the kind of trick Puck might play on mortal fools. 
But there is mischief worse than these, kidnapping and killings and cradle-robbing, which the older tales retell.
Russell Newquist, upon prereading the first 22 chapters of an early draft of Green Knight's Squire, said:
The manuscript that Mr. Wright sent me this Christmas will be placed next to George Washington’s Rules on Civility, the Fear is the Mindkiller poem, and the “What every boy needs to know about being a man speech” as, well, the lessons I give my boys in what they need to know about manhood. More than that, this story made me face up to my own shortcomings as a man and double down on attempts to do better in the years to come.
Jeffro Johnson, whose work on Appendix N inspired the portrayal of the elfs in Moth & Cobweb, wrote:
Yeah, you hear a lot of people complaining about how chivalry is dead over the past few years. What you don’t see is much depiction of chivalrous people being awesome. That’s here in spades. And again, maybe I missed it, but I can’t remember the last time I saw knightly knights bashing the heck out of each other like this. Maybe it’s the complete absence of snark or irony that makes so unbelievably fun, I don’t know. It is insanely fun, though. 
Rob Walker had this to say about Swan Knight's Sword, which holds true throughout the trilogy:
In this setting, Gil seeks to become a knight, escape the malign designs of the elfs, and protect his mother so she does not have to protect him any longer.
It nicely mixes in Arthurian mythology – King Arthur & Excalibur, the Green Knight and the Green Chapel, the Swan Knight, the Tower Dolorous, the Fisher King, and numerous other elements.
Finally, the talking animals are a nice touch. It’s often hard to right talking animals without being twee about it, but the talking animals in trilogy all have their own distinct personalities and traits. On a related note, the books are funny – some of the earnest Gil’s interactions with the elfs and the talking animals border on hilarious, especially when one of the animals, who usually talk in high medieval style, suddenly drop into modern 21st century slang. 
Finally, the Castalia House blog collected their own roundup of reviews earlier this year, including this gem from Eric L. Norman's Amazon review:
Who else can you turn to for properly eerie elfs, mythical monsters that actually menace and predate in a manner befitting their vile slobbering fangs and soul-less scheming hearts, young men who find themselves answering the call of honor and chivalry and have to deal with the consequences, and worlds stranger and yet more real than our own? Where the lines between good and evil fall not merely into black and white, but slip through the veil of twilight into a realm of shades so rich with nuance and perilous nobility that one can see the sort of twisted creature that will steal a sleeping babe, yet fight an honorable challenge and hold its word sacrosanct. This is the kind of tale the Men of the West might have regaled their sons with, and if the dark tide is turned, may yet again.

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