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The Weirdstone of Brisingamen

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

This review was contributed by Ben G

Cover of The Weirdstone of Brisingamen

Author: Alan Garner

Publisher: Collins

Published in: 1960

Age Range: Children

Period: Mid 20th C

Setting: Rural Cheshire, Alderly Edge

Genres:  AdventureFantasyMagic


Characters:

  • Colin: Sensible and straightforward twin brother to Susan: The slightly more timid of the two.
  • Gowther: A no nonsense northern man, a farmer, who the twins stay with.
  • Durathor: A viking like dwarf who has a love of battle, especially when there are goblins involved.
  • Fenodryee: Another dwarf who is slightly more refined than his friend. He does not share Durathor's love of battle.
  • Cadellin: A mysterious wizard who saves the children when they are chased by the evil svart (goblins).
  • Celina Place: A mysterious woman who lives in a strange mansion with her wolf-like dogs.

Synopsis:

Colin and Susan, brother and sister, who have grown up in a city go to visit friends of their mother in a rural part of Cheshire not far from Macclesfield. When Susan's pendant, a tear, begins to glow, however, strange events occur in the normally quiet, yet mystical, Alderly Edge. The children are nearly captured by the foul maggot breed goblins- the svart and are rescued only in the nick of time by Cadellin, a mysterious man who turns out to be a wizard.

The wizard soon realises that the pendant Susan bears is actually the weirdstone of Brisingamen, a stone of magical properties that can ward evil away from the Edge. The children must embark on a quest to save the stone from the clutches of evil, the svart and their hag like masters the morthbrood. The two hardy dwarves, Durathor and Fenodryee act as guides on this mission.

Notes:

A very enjoyable book for a number of reasons: Firstly the character development is excellent, all the characters are well explored and round and for the most part easy to relate to. The only character that is not really explored is Cadellin. However this is for effect, there is a strong sense of mystery about the old wizard. Secondly, the pace of the book is electric, which is often not found in some older books, and this really keeps the reader attentive. Finally the description in the book is both vivid and entertaining.

However it is fair to say that the book is a little dated, one cannot really believe that any house in England lacks electricity and a telephone. It also lacks huge sections of pure dialogue found in many modern books such as Viaduct Child. Another criticism of the book is that it is too similar to The Lord of the Rings, Cadellin is very similar to Gandalf as is Durathor to the character of Gimli the dwarf. However I feel that it is definitely a story in its own right.

The only questionable aspect of the book is Durathor's love of battle although it must be pointed out that he only fights the svart, who are clearly evil.

Cadellin took the children from stormy point along a broad track that cut through the wood as far as the open fields, where it turned sharply to twist along the meadow border skirting the woodland. This the wizard said, was once an elf road and some of the old magic still lingered there. Svarts would not set foot on it , and the morthbrood would do so only if hard pressed, and they could not bare to walk there for long. He told the children to use this road if they ever had need to visit him and not to stray from it: for parts of the wood were evil and very dangerous.

Tuesday 1st January 2002