This book is Bad. The characters and plot are stupid. The faux-Jacobean English writing is stupid*. The fact that this is considered a seminal fantasy classic is vaguely embarrassing (and also stupid). It’s not even that weird which it is supposed to be and could have been its saving grace.
There is an intro written by a “scholar”, Brian Attebery, who should be utterly ashamed of himself for praising this book. He quotes the author, Eddison, on why he loves (fetishizes) Iceland and the Nordic countries:
“first, on the political field — aristocratic individualism of an uncompromising kind; secondly, in its broad outlook on human life and destiny — paganism; and thirdly, in art — a peculiar and in itself highly perfect form of prose narrative.”
Listen to this jerk. “Scholar” Attebery goes on to comment:
“This emphasis on Nordic ancestry, combined with his disdain for commoners, cowards, foreigners, and other lesser breeds, occasionally sounds an ominous note in Eddison’s fantasies; some of his pronouncements verge on a British version of fascism.”
So, Eddison is not only a bad writer, he’s a classist, racist, backward-yearning fascist.
The cover art is pretty cool though.
*If anyone wants to read an excellent novel written by a 20th century author attempting 17th century English-prose, read Thomas Pynchon’s Mason & Dixon.