Book Review: The King Of Elfland’s Daughter by Lord Dunsany

The first book for my Readings In the Genre: Fantasy Classics is The King of Elfland’s Daughter by Lord Dunsany (Fantasy 240 pages).

This book was not at all what I was expecting. Not even close. I learned several books back that I enjoy books a lot less when I read the back of the book, and since this book is required reading, I didn’t feel any need to know what it was about. I based my entire preconceived notions on the title alone, which was a mistake.

I was a little confused about how someone could be a ruler or king of a land where they could just wander off for a decade or so and have things still run smoothly in their absence. I guess the land of Erl wasn’t a very high maintenance area and that the people were very simple and focused on their daily lives.

Which then brings me to the parliament of twelve old men who attempted to change the fate of their village by making it famous and having magic in their land. That goes with one of those ancient proverbs of, “Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.” Erl gets magic. Erl gets tons of magic. And then those same old guys go crying to everyone else about how there is now far too much magic in their land and they wish things would go back to the way they were. All this because they cared about how other people outside the village viewed or didn’t view their area. All because they wanted to be famous. But I knew right from the beginning of the story when Alveric’s father kind of said that they were being a little less than smart in what they asked, but it was his job to provide the people with what they requested.

I was not prepared for the way this book was written. I have to say that the melody was fantastic and I really wanted to read this book out loud, just to hear the way the words flowed. This book was written in a very different time than the way things are written now. The sentences were melodic and filled with descriptions in a way that made me nostalgic for simpler times and simpler ways.

Time didn’t flow the way that I expected in this book. I think when I started the book that I anticipated the story mostly focusing on Alveric’s journey to Elfin and his quest to marry Lirazel. And yet, all that happened in the first four chapters. I think that brings up one of the parts that mildly confused me throughout the book, and that was the usage of time. While I thought it was really neat that time in Elfin moved much slower than time in the fields of man, it was sometimes a little awkward for me to jump in and out of chapters that ended at the same time but took a long time to get to the same point in different chapters. In that way, it kind of took some of the suspense out of the chapters because I knew how the chapter would end, just not necessarily how it would get there.

Also along the lines of how time flowed in this story was how the writing really made me appreciate all the small things in my daily life that are sometimes easy to overlook and yet so beautiful. How Lirazel found such beauty in the stars and in the littlest things. Also how Lurulu, the troll, was fascinated by sparrows and by humans wearing hats.

While I appreciate the writing style, I don’t know that I could ever mimic it, nor do I think that I would often read stories written in this fashion. Mostly because I am a fan more of stories told in a strictly chronological way and also because the story was well-written, but I didn’t really care about the characters. The characters were interesting, but the only character I found actually fascinating was the old leather worker. I think he had a wonderful story about Elfin that he just couldn’t bear to remember or that he never wanted to share.

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About C.A. Jacobs

Just another crazy person, masquerading as a writer.
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One Response to Book Review: The King Of Elfland’s Daughter by Lord Dunsany

  1. Reina says:

    Ah, extremely good chioce of review, Keely. This is one of my favorites from your reviewing oeuvre. Besides the obviously apt description of the style and content of the work, I love how you capture the magic and poesy of Dunsany’s story and prose with some of your sentences. I would perhaps not personally have described Dunsany’s style quite as ponderous’ (though I agree that this work of his in particular is certainly ponderous as far as pace is concerned), rather than densely or floridly poetic, but, I love your crystal skein’ description.And though I simply adore this review of yours, I must mention that I also personally very much admire your Alice in Wonderland review. That is a wonderful review too. *hint hint that perhaps that would also be a nice review to see around here sometime*

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