Monday, June 26, 2006

Old MacDonald Wrote Some Books, EIEIO

Well, I finished The Light Princess last night, and now I'm finally getting around to writing about it. This isn't the first book by George MacDonald that I've read. I've also read Lilith, Phantasies, The Wise Woman, and maybe one or two others I can't remember offhand.

If you don't know, George MacDonald was one of the pioneers of fantasy fiction. He began did his writing in the 18th Century when other pioneers, like William Morris were still writing. He was way before Tolkien or Howard.

That said, his books--the ones I've read anyway--are very similar to fairy tales, especially this one. It follows one of the standard fairy tale plots:

King forgets to invite which to child's christening. Witch curses child. Prince arrives to break curse. Witch dies. Prince and Princess are married. They all live happily ever after.

Despite the fairly formulaic plot, the book has some very original elements. The princess is cursed with a lack of gravity, both literally and figuratively. Instead of having to climb a glass mountain or slay a dragon, the prince must sacrifice himself to break the curse. There are also two metaphysicians named Hum-Drum and Kopy-Keck, who provide some very good comic relief.

If you've never read MacDonald's work, you should. I give the Light Princess 5 yo-yos. Up next, I'm reading Ellen Kushner's Thomas the Rhymer.

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