Today I am bringing you a review of a book that I read back in October, but as I only post once a week review arrives a little bit late. Nevertheless, I am super excited to tell you all about this book because it´s perfect for all fantasy lovers. The book I am talking about is Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees.
This book is a classic in the fantasy genre, in fact it was written before The Lord of the Rings was. Recently a Spanish publisher published it here and they were kind enough to send me a review copy. Thanks to Roca Editoral for that.
Lud-in-the-Mist is a prosper merchant city in which due some events in the past, now everyone lives an extremely organized life. Everything that is related to the fairies was casted out of the city because; however, there is a fairy fruit that still coming into the city, illegally, set fruit is a drug. The thing is that no one is doing anything to solve the contraband problem, unless not until the son of the city´s mayor thinks he has been fooled into eat the fruit.
Truth to be told, I am extremely happy y read this book for several reasons and I will tell you all right away.
The first thing that I feel that I need to talk about is that this book is written almost 30 years prior to The Lord of the Rings, a book that is consider by many the precursor of the genre. I have found many books with similar plots to The Lord of the Rings (journey in search of a mystical object) I also have encounter books with similar plots to this one (character driven and with a critic to certain society). And you know what? After reading this book I think that Neil Gaiman´s style is kind of influence by the style of Mirreless.
What I have liked the most about this book, it´s also what I have like the lest: the world building. I know that saying that what I have enjoyed most it´s also what I have hate the most, but let me elaborate so you will all understand what I mean. I liked the world building because I found the way in which the author tells us everything within the first 3 chapters very interesting. It´s a very efficient way in which to build the universe and then just forget about it; the reader already knows all that need to be known about the world. Why do I also say that this is what I have like the less? Well, because for those three chapters that I have just mention there is no dialogue at all and there is not any progress on the plot, which might be kind of boring to read: that´s what happened to me.
It´s interesting how the author takes an historical place and period and uses them in a unique way to create a richer plot. In fact, she uses things that actually happened in that time period and place that I have just mentioned in order to help herself to create all the mythology and magic system necessary for the book. Even when the place is called Lud-in-the-Mist we really are in the Netherlands when they were at the top of the financial and merchant world (yes guys, when the speculation was with tulips and not forwards, futures and all other kind of financial products that we now have), all the author does is add some details, change a few and we are in Lud-in-the-Mist. And that is one of the things that I have enjoyed the most about this book.
I have already like that if you are familiar with the historical period in which this book was written, certain social criticism can be easily found. For those who don´t know the Dry Law was enforced from the beginning of the 20´s til the mid 30´s and, I found that reflected with the illegal importations of the fairy’s fruit, and how badly is that seen in the city.
On the other hand, all the elements of the English folklore that appear in here are just perfectly introduced and really interesting. Now I want to do some research on some of them, mostly regarding the Green Man, as I haven’t ever heard of him. But the English folklore is not the only one present, there are also some elements from the Greek mythology.
The writing of the author is just magnificent. It is like poetry and at the same time is full of metaphors that makes the reading experience unique. You need to be purely focus on the book to get absolutely everything.
And of course, I cannot finish my review without mentioning how rich and complex are all the character, and how well portrayed are all of them. I think that Nathaniel Chanticleer is an excellent protagonist.
Overall, I think this book deserves 4 out of 5 stars because as I have said the beginning was kind of boring. I recommend it to all the fantasy lovers out there, especially if you like Neil Gaiman´s books.
See you all in my next post.