Oh, God, so many things I’d forgotten that come back with a single sentence…
After the harrowing final chapter of THE SUMMER TREE, it actually came as a shock to me that Jennifer is pregnant in the opening chapters of WANDERING FIRE. That whole storyline tumbled right back into place (and, indeed, I was somewhat surprised I’d forgotten its inception, since there are characters in the Walker Papers who owe heavy, deliberate homage to that storyline), but I was still completely surprised that Paul hauls them into Fionavar for a hiccup of time. I remembered the later crossing, not that one.
I’ve been reading the Paul/Jaelle scenes with a very close eye to subtext, because I was flabbergasted in my first (possibly several) read-through of the books where at the end Jaelle asks if he’s really going to leave her. It came out of absolutely nowhere for me as a young reader, and as an adult I’m…pretty sure, thus far, that if I wasn’t reading their scenes very carefully that I would still be flabbergasted at the end. I think the subtext is there, but it’s very, very sub. Which is actually a rather admirable trick for a writer to pull off, so I doff my hat!
Less doffy, or something, is–I’m torn on some of the language in these books. Normal modern people do not say things like “To this I will make reply although he be a god and it mean my death.” It’s dramatic, yes; it’s beautiful, yes; it gets the point across, yes; and arguably none of these are normal people nor have they been since perhaps long before the trilogy started, yes.
I mean, again, *yes*: it’s got a hell of a lot more style than “I’m going to take this motherfucker out if it’s the last thing I do,” which is invariably the case when I come across these kinds of phrases in these books spoken by the Earth characters, of which I think Kevin’s oath there may be the most egregious in the whole trilogy. But I don’t understand *why* these characters often take the poetic route rather than the motherfucker route. *In* Fionavar, *with* Diarmuid, okay, I can see making the attempt to kinda sound like the people around you to get your point across, but overall…I really find it jarring. I’m pretty sure that in my earlier readings of the book I found it more romantic and–and, I suspect, how I *wished* people would talk, but as an adult reader there’s a lot more “really?” involved.
Hell of an oath, though. Gotta give him that.
Okay. Now. Now we reach one of what I think (as an adult; it never crossed my mind as a kid) is the contentious bits of the whole story: the return of the king.
I would like to get this off my chest right away: I LOVE THIS STORY THREAD. I love it with all the love in my little lovey heart. Now, I’m a child of the 80s, and there was a huge Arthurian resurgence in the 80s and I read all of it and loved it and what I particularly loved is that, as with current-day vampires, you can take Arthur and reshape the legend and retell it and find new ins and outs and it still offers the bones of something old and strong and powerful. I love retellings of many things for this reason, and the Fionavar Tapestry was probably one of the first Arthurian retellings I came across during that resurgence, so it holds a special place in my heart.
“Are they there yet?” 3>