The King of Elfland's Daughter

The King of Elfland's Daughter

by Lord Dunsany
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King of Elfland's Daughter 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
MLucero More than 1 year ago
The King of Elfland's Daughter is a classic of fantastic literature, one of the works upon which the genre as it is today understood is based. In this sense, Lord Dunsany can be called, with George MacDonald, a proto-fantasist. His fantasies were based partly on traditional folklore and fairy-tales, and partly on the heroic romances popular during the Middle Ages. In this way, quite apart from the character of Dunsany's writing, the man stands above most modern fantasy fare. Yet the voice of his writing, as well, echoes on the mind like distant horns sounding from beyond the horizon, turning, with the alchemy implicit in the best fairy tales, mere words into visions of brilliant landscapes, mere turns of phrases into casts of golden age, though ringing in the present. Yet as Neil Gaiman's introduction observes, it is not a particularly comforting story, a fact likely due to the ambiguity of many of its events. There are notes of childlike wonder and innocence in the beauty of Elfland, but also notes of hubris and things beyond the realm of what is healthy. Similarly, there seems at first mere blunt cruelty in the priest's cursing of all magical things, but it later reveals hidden stores of wisdom and foresight. By the time Lord Dunsany's tale has ended, it is a question unresolved whether it was a good thing or no for characters to have endured "the coming of too much magic". Perhaps the truth depends on one's approach to Elfland: come with ambition, pride or greed, and you will meet with more than you bargained for. But approach with caution, humility and restraint, and Elfland is a paradise of hallowed splendors and wonders. In this, Dunsany is (and ingeniously so) following generations of traditional tales of Perilous Realms, where, as Tolkien said, there "are pitfalls for the unwary and dungeons for the overbold"...
plappen More than 1 year ago
Written in the early 20th century, This fantasy tale is about a small town that wishes to be ruled by a magic lord. Several leading citizens of the Vale of Erl go to their King, suggesting that a magic lord will help their town to be famous far and wide. The King sends his son, Alveric, into Elfland to bring back Lirazel, the King's daughter, as his bride. The misty border between the two lands causes those who live just to the west of Elfland to pretend that the compass direction of East, toward Elfland, does not exist. Lirazel produces a son, Orion, but the marriage is not happy. She is unwilling, or unable, to give up her belief in praying to the stars, in favor of Alveric's religion. In his desperation to get her back, Lirazel's father sent over a powerful rune to Lirazel, which she puts in a drawer. She knows that if she reads the rune, it will immediately send her back to Elfland. After being told, again, to give up her religion, now, in frustration, Lirazel uses the rune. Alveric immediately goes after her. After traveling for several days through a vast wasteland, he is forced to realize that not only has the castle of Elfland disappeared, but the entire land of Elfland has vanished. Alveric goes back to Erl and puts together an expedition to the far North to find some piece of Elfland that is not gone. After several years, a couple of members of the expedition return to Erl, no longer as committed to finding Elfland as they once were. Alveric shows no sign of giving up. Watching with her father, Lirazel begins to think that maybe she should go back to Alveric. Do they get back together? Do the people of Erl get their wish to be ruled by a magic lord? This was written in a very different time, so it is not a quick read; it will take some effort on the part of the reader. But that effort will be richly rewarded, because Dunsany, one of the overall masters of the fantasy field, does a wonderful job with the language and descriptions of this story. It is lyrical and poetic and it is a joy to read.
landrover More than 1 year ago
This is a book for every adventurer and dreamer. The edge of the fields we know applies to everything we do - from job changes, to school starts, to adventure trips, to new relationships. Basically once you go there you can never really come completely back, so it is understandably scary.
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mleiv More than 1 year ago
It took me a long time to wade through this book. It is written in that artificial flowery Victorian prose mimicking the King James Bible. Nonetheless, the second half of this book just sucked me in - it was so cynical and modern. I can definitely hear it in Neil Gaiman's Stardust, but the mood of it reminds me more of Baudolino by Umberto Eco. Dunsany represents very astutely how we both reach for and fear dangerous magic, how magic and madness must go hand-in-hand, and how the rejection of a magical world for a common, monotheistic one is both sensible and terribly sad. And the relationship between the prince and the fairy princess is more honest than most modern-day romances. He loves her for her playful, other-worldly nature, but then reprimands her for not settling down and taking on the common ways of his people after they are married. This book has definitely left a mark on me that will stay a long while.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a classic fantasy from the time before overblown Tolkien-clone epics. As such, you will not find the length or detail of Robert Jordan or any recent fantasist; but you will find an intriguing, non-traditional storyline, and some of the most simple yet beautiful writing I've ever come across. Any fans of the genre ought to read this.