Lost in imagination,
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This review is from: Robin Hood and Friar Tuck: Zombie Killers - A Canterbury Tale (Paperback)
This is a book to catch the eye before one even reads the contents - a seemingly bright and shining cover but the figures look lost and their eyes are downcast and the background is black and the shinings are eyes in the dark. And the title - `Robin Hood & Friar Tuck' - straightforward enough but `Zombie Killers' - whatever is this? `A Canterbury Tale' - where are we, what era, what place? We are lost.
But being lost in a book like this is no bad thing but a feast for imagination and thought. The joy of it, for me, is not so much in the narrative, though neat and original, but in the richness and variety of language. Paul Freeman has a keen ear for the Chaucerian mode he has chosen and for the authenticity of the setting - we have `candles in every sconce' `autumn leaves upon the Sherwood breeze' `features bronzed and burnished by the sun/as brown as is an Easter hot-crossed bun' We also have a deft and deliberate use of colloquialisms and modern idioms - the villainous Sir Guy says `So therefore I suggest that five per cent/To each of you won't make too big a dent/In what's required to house and clothe and feed/my family' and the miller's son `spotted movement underneath a ton/Of zombie flesh, then searching for his goal/Cast some remains aside and made a hole/(An action that was ill-conceived and dumb)/In hopes he might resuscitate his mum.'
Much of the vitality in this story comes from the juxtaposition of horror and humour. A zombie emerges from behind a door `with chomping jaws and ravaged face/Its arms extended, hoping to embrace/Guy's greedy spouse to feed upon her meat./Before the shambling figure could deplete/Her tender flesh, I swung my trusty sword/And where a head once sat, a geyser poured/Into the air and dyed the chamber red.'
So how is the reader to interpret this fascinating, mind-boggling narrative? As a romp through the genres? There is plenty to explore in this medieval world under threat from the zombie un-dead. As a social comment? There are beggars in poverty here, folk who `writhe in hunger' coupled with the ruthless exploitation of material resources by those who don't care or even notice. Maybe the fear and the blood and the `deadly force' are symbols for terrorism and war where it doesn't matter `if the number of deceased/Amongst the civil populace was high.'
There is plenty of choice. This is a book for pleasure and for quests.