Review – The Weirdstone of Brisingamen

Posted January 30, 2018 by Nicky in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan GarnerThe Weirdstone of Brisingamen, Alan Garner

When I first read The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, I found it horribly disappointing after all the hype. Even back then, I noted that the beginning was promising and that there are some wonderfully evocative scenes of claustrophobia and fear… but the mythology, and particularly the mash-up of different mythologies without apparent meaning — someone called Grimnir appears, but he’s the twin of a wizard and did not really strike me as being intended to evoke Odin, for example — bothered me.

I have to say that I’m pretty much of the same opinion now. There are some really great elements, but they don’t come together for me because they’re such a mash-up — and there’s no reason given for the mash-up, as in a story like Gaiman’s American Gods. I didn’t really get a sense of great history to some of the mythology, even though the names given are ancient. Worse, I found the last third of the book almost incoherent in its scrambling from plot point to plot point. Why is this happening? What? I don’t follow…

Maybe as a child I’d have accepted it more easily, with fewer preconceptions and less pre-existing knowledge about some of the mythology used. Alan Garner’s books always gave me the willies as a kid, though, so I didn’t read it back then.

Rating: 2/5

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2 responses to “Review – The Weirdstone of Brisingamen

  1. I’m pretty sure I’ve read reviews with Garner himself being critical of it for much the same reasons 🙂

    I have no filters to my helpless bias on this one – I’ve loved it since I was about 7. I didn’t know it was a hodgepodge, so everything fit together just fine; just discovering magical elements below the everyday sucked me in. I can’t imagine reading it for the first time now. I suspect I’d be much more critical!
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    • Yeah… I think I missed the critical period for reading it. Especially since I’ve read The Owl Service, and that stands up in all ways.

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