Customer Review

17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A deep, yet light work by a genius, 29 Aug. 2012
This review is from: Boneland (Weirdstone Trilogy 3) (Hardcover)
I would agree with some reviews which say this isn't a clear finale to the story of Colin and Susan. Colin is the main character but this is a richly woven tale of a hyper-intelligent man who really wants to break through the barrier of his life prior to the age of 13 in order for him to face the future.
For readers who have just encountered Alan Garner, do not start with this book. Garner is a literary genius and the mere fact many readers will struggle to decide the outcome of this tale is what makes it so majestic. For me, Alan Garner has written a story which has strong elements of poetry, elemental storytelling and sing song language in a more spoken tone than written. It is this ability to weave an unwieldy method of writing that gives it the gravitas to link to the background of the Weirdstone and Gomrath, it's predecessors. There is no Morrigan, no Brochallan, no Garanhir the Hunter, no lios alfar, no dwarves, no Albanac and only a fleeting cameo by Cadellin. But instead, we are being asked to see this book through an adults eyes. To suppose the premise that as a child you can believe in magic but as an adult it alludes you comes close to what we see in this book. Colin is an adult, striving to reach into his past but always it seems to be beyond him.
This requires a 2nd reading to really draw out the narrative and perhaps read it as two separate tales; read the `real time' with Colin then read the sing song tribal ritual the `watcher' goes through apart. For me, its closer to his adult themed books such as Red Shift but it still has a whisper, a suggestion of something primal and uncontrolled roiling beneath the surface. Still one of the greatest British writers ever
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 1 Sep 2012 10:08:46 BDT
E. Johnson says:
No Morrigan? Who do you think that Megan is?

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Sep 2012 22:58:47 BDT
Sue Mason says:
Meg isn't the Morrigan (well she's the mother aspect of the same goddess but not the crone herself) but the book is redolent with characters and situations from the first two books.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Sep 2012 09:33:22 BDT
Last edited by the author on 4 Sep 2012 10:28:49 BDT
After speed reading a second time, after a slow, absorbing read first time round, my gut feeling was that Megan and Bert were - Megan = an adult aspect of Susan and Bert = Gowther Mossack; two people Colin felt comfortable with. Without a doubt, I think Bert was an assumption of Gowther, the thick accent, the genuine concern for Colin and his presence always being there if needed, strong and reliable as Gowther was throughout the first two children's books.

Meg was a little more confusing once I realised she wasn't actually there. In some ways, it felt as if Meg and the younger shadow image of Susan were one and the same but Meg was there to help Colin come to terms with what happened and guide the spirit of the young Susan so she could also be free. However, from a second reading, it became apparent that as Sue Mason suggested Megan may be a representation of Angharad Goldenhand. Colin is an adult now and although his sister escaped (if we remember from Moon of Gomrath Cadellin Silverbrow commented that the more she wore the Mark of Fohla, the more she would draw further away from the real world) from 'the threat' i.e. the constant fear of the Morrigan, for Colin he grew to adulthood and just as in any adult the things he believed as a child became more confused and distant over time, even with the amnesia before the age of 13. If we were to look at Meg as AG then it would make sense as she is allowing him to find his own way, allowing him to make his own mistakes but letting him know that for a while she is there to guide him.

Of course, there is another possibility and that is the mention in the press cutting from Colin's lightning strike. It mentioned the Mossack's were his guardians which suggested his parents were dead by the time he was 13. So it could be some sort of parental vision (Meg as Colin's mother and probably appearing at the age she actually died).

I think one of the main things we can take from the novel is the back cover description of Alan Garner himself. At the bottom, it says something along the lines of "this book will be studied and discussed for many years to come". That I am certain of and I suspect this may come to be regarded as a quiet masterpiece.

Every reader will interpret this book slightly differently; in that, Alan Garner has indeed written what may well be his crowning glory. I am tempted to read it once again as I suspect that just as with a good album, the more exposure leads to a greater understanding.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Sep 2012 19:52:19 BDT
J. Grigsby says:
*spoiler alert!*

Meg is Susan, but in the aspect of the mother aspect of the Morrigan; Selina is the hag, and Susan the maid - they are three in one - just like the women the watcher encounters. He's looking for a woman and he summons the Morrigan instead - the same is true for Colin.

Meg = Megan = 'Pearl', so she is Margery Massey, the presumed identity of the daughter of the Pearl/Gawain poet, Hugh John Massey (according to some scholars). In the Pearl poem the poet's daughter has been lost to him by death, and in a dream he sees her over a body of water, the river of paradise, in which there are 'stones that glint like glass' which glitter like stars (in AG's view these are the Pleiades - and I guess the triboluminscent quartz)

The poet refers to his lost daughter as a Pearl - hence we believe she was called Margery (pearl) or Megan.

Now Colin calls Susan his pearl when he first hears her voice by the telescope - and you also have the theme of him carrying her back across the water in one of the final scenes when she's in the cave.

If Susan = Pearl and Meg = Pearl then they are part of the same.

Now Bert = Bertilak, the host from Sir Gawain, whose castle is haute Desert (High Forest - the name of his taxi company) The taxi company's receptionist is Fay, as in Morgan le fay, who resides at haute desert and who is behind the whole testing of Gawain. Morgan le fay = the Morrigan.

The watcher is also the Green Knight - the GK arrives in Camelot with an axe and holly staff, just as the watcher does when he meets the group on the hill. Also look at the beasts he hunts - it parallels the hunting scenes of Bertilak in Sir Gawain. He is the guardian of the Hill, as later Cadellin is. Now Colin's calling of Cadellin which results in the lightning strike is Gawain's testing by the Green Knight - he receives a neck wound and wears the green silk girdle as a sign of his failure - echoes by Colin's green silk hood and the scar on the neck. This makes Cadellin a Green knight figure, heir to the Watcher. Colin then becomes watcher in turn.

As Bertilak is the Green knight when not enchanted it begs the question of whether Bert is also Cadellin...

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Sep 2012 20:45:57 BDT
Last edited by the author on 6 Sep 2012 08:19:18 BDT
ANDY says:
I think your final two paragraphs are nicely put mr p mcshane. ditto.
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