How many of you would be tempted to throw out a book entitled The Wierdstone of Brisingamen? Is that or is it not one of the worst titles ever?
I recently discovered this in my collection, a 1970-something edition with a special introduction by one of the true giants of fantasy and science-fiction, Andre Norton, who heaped praise on it. So how bad could it be? I decided to re-read it, because I couldn’t remember anything about it.
It turned out to be really good.
Author Alan Garner—Wierdstone, first published in 1960, was his debut novel–liked to set his fantasies in the real world. The more of the real world that’s in the story, he reckoned, the more believable it’ll be. This story is set in Cheshire, England, where Garner was born and raised. In fact, most the details of the landscape are real.
The fantastic elements of the story all derive from bona fide Norse and Celtic folklore, with a pinch of King Arthur. Readers unfamiliar with these traditions may have trouble with the proper names.
Anyhow, the descriptive passages are truly excellent, the story itself moves along very fast, and we are amazed to discover that Garner himself, years later, called Wierdstone “one of the very worst books written during the last 20 years.”
But don’t listen to him. Find a copy of Wierdstone and enjoy it.