Thursday, December 05, 2013

Quickie Book Review: In the Land of Time, and Other Fantasy Tales

by Lord Dunsany

Lord Dunsany is widely considered one of the pioneers of fantasy literature, influencing some of the greats in the field including H.P. Lovecraft and J.R.R. Tolkein. Based on this collection of his work, In the Land of Time, And Other Fantasy Tales, I can see how his work played some part in shaping the works of Lovecraft and others. Tales such as The Development of the Rillswood Estate, The Walk to Lingham, and The City on Mallington Moor (to name a few) use elements of nature to describe a satyr being raised as a human, or a poplar tree slowly hunting a man walking down a road, or the crystalline image of a glowing city where one could not possibly be. He creates a dreamlike fantasy world near the Yann River, with his narrator's visits spread across many stories, each showing how time passes differently from the real world and the fantasy world. When a few days pass in London, centuries seem to have taken their toll on the Yann and the country around it. These tales are my type of story -- detailed, engaging, the right balance of light humor mixed with shivers running along my spine.

The tales for which he is best known -- those involving the world of Pegana -- felt slow and repetitive. These tales describe the creation of Pegana, from a simple game by Fate and Chaos to a pantheon of gods and the humans created to worship them. They read like lists rather than stories, with names of places (or people? or gods?) being cast about that I found it difficult to follow what was happening to whom.

With that being said, I found most of the stories entertaining and worth reading, and recommend this collection to get a taste of early fantasy writing.

In the Land of Time, and Other Fantasy Tales
by Lord Dunsany
Penguin Books
trade paperback, 400 pgs.

purchased book

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