Recommendation: The King of Elfland’s Daughter

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Boy meets Girl, Girl is an Elf Princess.

Meadow Elves: Nils Blommér Image via Wikipedia.

I couldn’t find any good pictures directly related to the book, but this one’s got Elves and looks pretty whimsical and evocative and cool, yeah?

More information on Wikipedia here.

And on TvTropes here.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Boy meets Girl, Girl is an Elf Princess, Boy marries Girl, Girl can’t find joy in the world of mortals and goes back to Elfland, Boy goes on epic quest to find Girl. Magic ensues and eventually, everybody lives happily ever after.

And that’s basically The King of Elfland’s Daughter. A book written by this handsome fellow:

Edward Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany, popularly known as “Lord Dunsany”.
Image via Wikipedia.

Lord Dunsany is notable for being one of the prolific Fantasy authors to predate Tolkien. Granted, Tolkien didn’t invent the genre, but due to his singular influence upon said genre, remains a pretty handy point of reference to compare everything that came before with everything that came after.

Lord Dunsany’s stories tend to be really outlandish and just plain weird — that’s not a bad thing, by the way.

The King of Elfland’s Daughter isn’t really an exception to that, as you’d perhaps expect from a book about a dude questing through the world of the Elves. It’s pretty weird top-to-bottom: weird characters do weird things, events and places are described with weird imagery and turns of phrase. Even the writing itself is weird. It feels less like a modern novel and more like an old fairy tale.

Hardly surprising, given that it is literally a fairy tale.

The upside to this is that the prose itself is so well-written and evocative that even when the story is dragging on (which it definitely does towards the end of the middle third, or so), actually reading the story is still worthwhile because the style of how its written and the choice and use of words and language is always just so sublimely overawing.

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