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10 June 2012 @ 03:35 pm
The Moon of Gomrath  
When I blogged about The Wierdstone of Brisingamen there was a collective shout of Albanac from my flist. A sufficiently enthusiastic shout that I thought I'd check out The Moon of Gomrath as well. I can't honestly say I enjoyed this as much as Wierdstone though I think it is, in some ways, a more mature book but it felt oddly disjointed to me like the ideas hadn't quite coalesced in Garner's mind before he set out.

It won't have helped that I read the book in two halves with a long break in the middle. This may have contributed to my sense that it didn't quite hang together but, on the other hand, this is more two stories than one which are very loosely held together by the menace of the Brollachan and so the break in the middle felt quite natural in a way. The story is also somewhat disjoint in, for instance, never quite convincing of the menace of the wild hunt or even, truth be told, of the Morrigan herself. We get told how dangerous they are but we don't actually get shown very much. I think The Wierdstone of Brisingamen was much more successful both as a coherent story and in conveying the gravity of the situation. That said Moon of Gomrath is, to a certain extent, trying to deal with heftier issues than Wierdstone. While the children are still the focus of the story, they are inhabiting a much more grown up world where, for instance, the extent to which you should be prepared to sacrifice many lives in order to save one is a real issue. Ultimately though, I felt this added depth was somewhat short-changed by a rather abrupt ending that refused to deal with the aftermath of the events of the story.

As for Albanac, I don't know, maybe I'm now the wrong age for this type of character. I found him a little generic, to be honest, and a little too much of a deus ex machina - too much mystery and not enough actual personality. I suspect the same complaint can probably be levelled at, for instance, Aragorn, but I was younger and more prepared to do the mental legwork of filling in a character for myself when I first encountered Tolkein.

The Moon of Gomrath isn't a bad, or even a mediocre, book by any stretch of the imagination but I don't think it is as good as its predecessor and ultimately I was disappointed.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/69456.html.
bigtitchbigtitch on June 10th, 2012 03:10 pm (UTC)
I adore both books and the whole world Garner creates there. It was only when I went to the celebration of them in 2010 at Alderley Edge that I realised I read Gomrath first.

As an 11-year-old the Brollachan scared me so much! But you're right, even if Einheriar of the Herlathing was my battle-cry for quite a while, Weirdstone is the better book.

But there is another one coming out this year, I think!
Susanlil_shepherd on June 10th, 2012 03:15 pm (UTC)
Yes, there is. But some of the things Garner has been saying about it are... well... worrying.

Weirdstone is more of a piece, but Gomrath is full of mystery and poetry and tragedy, all of which sort-of makes it my favourite. I read the Wild Hunt sequence aloud so often that, at one time, I had it off by heart.

bigtitchbigtitch on June 10th, 2012 03:27 pm (UTC)
Yes, there is. But some of the things Garner has been saying about it are... well... worrying.
I suspect he's going a bit Red Shift on it, which wouldn't be good - at least to me.
Susanlil_shepherd on June 10th, 2012 03:31 pm (UTC)
A lot of people on my flist got very excited and then... well... not.

I seem to think Fred was in on that conversation, so maybe it was on one of fjm's threads.
fredbassettfredbassett on June 10th, 2012 04:11 pm (UTC)
I think I saw the beginning of that thread.

I will read the book, but I suspect it won't be what I want out a return to that world.
louisedennis: bookslouisedennis on June 10th, 2012 03:53 pm (UTC)
I was surprised I was so `meh' about Gomrath, though I'm aware the break in reading it may not have given it an entirely fair chance.
louisedennis: bookslouisedennis on June 10th, 2012 03:54 pm (UTC)
Gomrath may have better set-pieces than Wierdstone - though the whole journey through the caves really sticks out in my mind from that.
fredbassettfredbassett on June 10th, 2012 04:10 pm (UTC)
The passage of the Earldelving is one of the best written caving sequence in any book. very true to the nature of the experience and so well written that you can go into West Mind and pick out the exact ledge Colin and Susuan watched the svartmoot from.

Brisingamen is the better book, but I still cling to my abinding love of Albanac. I loved the moment in Fundindelve when he's clearly completely knackered and Susan uses that to aid her sneaking off.
louisedennis: bookslouisedennis on June 10th, 2012 04:16 pm (UTC)
That is a nice moment, but I still found it surprisingly difficult to really get a grip on Albanac.
reggietatereggietate on June 10th, 2012 05:30 pm (UTC)
I dunno... I did quite enjoy both books, but not as much as I'd hoped/expected to. Possibly because I read therm as an adult? Though usually I have no problem reading 'kids' books. I much preferred Owl Service and Red Shift, to be honest.
fredbassettfredbassett on June 10th, 2012 07:34 pm (UTC)
It must be an age thing. I really disliked Red Shift and found it a massive disappointmnet, and never really liked Owl Service. I was so so about Elidor.
reggietatereggietate on June 10th, 2012 08:02 pm (UTC)
Must admit, I'm not keen on Elidor, either. But I most recently re-read Owl Service and liked it even more. Red Shift is a hard one to get into, I think the spareness of it puts a lot of people off.
fredbassettfredbassett on June 10th, 2012 08:03 pm (UTC)
When Red Shift came out I was desperately hoping for somthing like Gomrath so it was a massive disappointment.
louisedennis: bookslouisedennis on June 11th, 2012 09:23 am (UTC)
I read the Owl Service when, I think, too young and was very confused by it, I keep meaning to give it another try. I suspect its the reason I didn't read any other Alan Garner's when I was younger.
bunnbunn on June 10th, 2012 09:26 pm (UTC)
I keep meaning to re-read these. I remember feeling faintly disappointed by Albanac too and feeling he was a bit of an Aragorn knock-off, but perhaps the young Bunn just didn't read it very carefully.

I remember dressing up as the Brollachan for Halloween when I was .... 11, I think. The costume involved a giant cardboard head, for some reason I now forget.
louisedennis: bookslouisedennis on June 11th, 2012 09:28 am (UTC)
It must be said my impression of Albanac was exactly Aragon knock-off, though I don't know the comparative dating of the two books. He does various dashing and heroic things but I never got any sense of him as a person as opposed to a convenient adult to come to the rescue when needed.
bunnbunn on June 11th, 2012 11:56 am (UTC)
I had to check - LOTR published 1955, Gomrath is 1963. This confirms my suspicions. :-/

When googling, I stumbled across this Amazon review which is somewhat unfair, but made me laugh :
"The moon of gomrath was very boring to read and made us fall asleep. I would only recommend it to elderly ladies. They would like to know about adventures like colin and susans but it wasnt interesting for us. We couldnt understand what the story was about."

Elderly ladies! :-D

Susanlil_shepherd on June 11th, 2012 06:19 pm (UTC)
However, Garner loathes Tolkien and I'm not sure he had read LotR at that point. Albanac is one of the Children of Don - the Welsh equivalent of the The Tuatha Dé Danann.

Albanac is not a 'hidden king' but rather something close to a demi-god.