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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Am I the only one disappointed?, 22 Oct 2012
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This review is from: Boneland (Weirdstone Trilogy 3) (Hardcover)
Like many people I was introduced to reading by the publishing of 'The Weirdstone' closely followed by The Moon of Gomrath which as a 11 year old gave me an interest of the mythical and the 'Olde World', and both of which I throughly enjoyed.Both these books were passed on to my 2 sons who also enjoyed them and developed similar interests to myself. I was disppointed that stories of Colin and Susan ended after The Moon of Gomrath and although I did read other books by Alan Garner none of these were as enjoyable as his first two. So now alot older I was delighted when I discovered he had written what was described as the last of the Colin and Susan stories called 'Boneland' bringing them to a conclussion,and could not wait to read it and ordered it on my kindle pre publication so I could read in whilst on holiday, which I looked forward to with the excitment of an 11 year old? . What did I expect more about Cadellin the wizard, dwarfs, elves, magic the age old struggle between good and evil? To be frank yes I did.
What I got was a story for adults with no involvemnet of the very characters and events that made the first 2 books so enjoyable and exciting and not having read many of Mr Garners later novels could not figure out the place of the sub plot in the story and in finding out what had happened to Susan? Am I the only person to have found this confussing and there was never a definative answer what had happened to her. Obviously after 'Gomrath' she had gone to the 'Stars'but surely through the 'olde magic' she could have been brought back?

Having read comments from other readers they appear to have read other things into the story that I missed which makes sense to them but I am sorry I obviously didn't pick up on them. I have great affection for Alan Garner and will be forever grateful for his early books which really encouraged an 11 year old to read but I'm sorry 'Boneland' was not an enjoyable or satisfactory read for me. Does anyone else feel the same?
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 23 Oct 2012 12:58:42 BDT
Last edited by the author on 23 Oct 2012 13:17:30 BDT
parsley sage says:
Clearly you are not the only person to be disappointed by Boneland. The reviews on Amazon alone run the gamut between love and utter loathing which often spills over into bitter anger.

50 years is a long long time in the life of a writer. Alan Garner has had 50 years of inquiry, following his muse where it has led him. That is a lot of thinking, a lot of development. To expect a man in his seventies to write in the same way he did when he was a 20 something fledgling writer making his first tentative steps is not a fair or realistic expectation.

Lets be fair though, you are not 11 years old are you? You will have changed a lot since you were 11. Boneland has not been marketed as a childrens book. The press release from back in March doesn't read like it is heralding the arrival of a childrens book. Look at a physical copy of the book, it doesn't look like a children's book. Early reviews did not describe a book for children. I call that fair warning. Nobody has been cheated and yet much of the criticism of Boneland is not about what the novel is, but what it isn't.

Taken on surface level, the conclusion of the themes in Weirdstone and Gomrath could involve a Ragnarock/Apocalypse scenario. The sleepers would awake, Nastrond would be defeated and the myth cycle would draw to a close. Tidy.

You say

"(I want to) find out what had happened to Susan? Am I the only person to have found this confussing and there was never a definative answer what had happened to her. Obviously after 'Gomrath' she had gone to the 'Stars'but surely through the 'olde magic' she could have been brought back?"

...and yet in the Moon of Gomrath the description of the "olde" Wild Magic is that it can be a help but can not be manipulated or directed. It is like a force of nature, indifferent, unpredictable, does not pick sides. And Susan released the Wild Magic back into the world, which changed the game completely. And remember Susan did not want to come back to the world to begin with. You do find out what happened to her, it is right there in the text of Boneland, and it is not inconsistent with the events in the Moon of Gomrath. Boneland is about what happened to Colin. Depending on how you look at it. it is also about who/what Cadellin is. Or how Colin and Susan became integrated/absorbed into the myth cycle. From a childs view that makes a great adventure and a ripping yarn, but for an adult trying to navigate the "real" world this is truly terrifying and awe inspiring. That's the difference between Weirdstone/Gomrath and Boneland and that is the significance of a 50 year gap between the works.

Posted on 24 Oct 2012 11:48:06 BDT
I also read Weirdstone and Gomrath and loved them both, also the Owl Service and Elidor but was never that struck on his more recent books. I have just finished reading Boneland and although I enjoyed the book more than I thought I would, as it is very well written, once I finished it I did find myself wondering what was the point of it!!

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Oct 2012 13:49:29 BDT
Chesterfield man - That is exactly how I felt. I read The Owl Service and Elidor which I enjoyed but struggled with his later novels. It is good to know that others feel the same as I did, thank you for your comment.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Oct 2012 16:01:25 BDT
Last edited by the author on 24 Oct 2012 16:08:50 BDT
parsley sage says:
Perhaps the point of the novel is to make you think about the significance of myth, history, landscape, cognitive development, mental illness, loss of innocence, ageing, grief, time and the creative process? Just a thought.

Or you could just bypass the thought process and take a roll call from fellow disappointees. Whatever floats your boat.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Oct 2012 13:14:30 BDT
"Or you could just bypass the thought process and take a roll call from fellow disappointees. Whatever floats your boat"

Oooh - rather catty!!! Made me laugh though.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Oct 2012 13:37:52 BDT
parsley sage says:
I know, I know. The internet can do that to you. Thanks for taking it in good humour though.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Apr 2013 09:51:39 BDT
Prester John says:
Now that the book and its readers have had time to settle, in my opinion this comment stands as the best and most level headed. There ARE writers that can churn out the same material over a whole lifetime, but they are of a different breed from Alan Garner. They don't develop, and neither do their readers. To expect a creative mind not to learn or to change over more than half a century is unrealistic, yet it's that kind of mind that endures and is cherished by posterity. We are all offered a chance to go with the author on a journey, of nine books so far, and that is a Pilgrim's Progress to enrich the soul.

Rowan Williams wrote, in New Statesman (29 November 2012), while still Archbishop of Canterbury: "Alan Garner's novel Boneland, an adult continuation of his children's fantasies of the 1960s, is a distillation of all that makes Garner such a unique genius - written with intense, spare vividness, terrifying psychological subtlety and the kind of visual imagination that makes everything, from stones to stars, strange." We don't have to agree with him, but we should pause before discarding Boneland, and look more closely at ourselves first.
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