About the Author:
Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 18th Baron Dunsany, better known simply as Lord Dunsany, was born in London, UK in 1878. He died in 1957.
AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
2 out of 5
Time And The Gods
Part of the Fantasy Masterworks series, this book is actually a collection of collections of stories, made up of six previously published books (including the titular 'Time and the Gods').
Aside from a short story I'd read previously (which is included here actually), this was my first real foray into the writing of Lord Dunsany, who is often spoken of in the same breath as J. R. R. Tolkien as breaking the ground for what we now consider the fantasy genre. These stories, written mostly in the first decade of the 20th Century, certainly were revolutionary in the telling of fairy tales for adults, by framing them with a depth and melancholy that the earlier children's stories lacked. In short, I totally get why Lord Dunsany is regarded as a pioneer in the genre.
All of that doesn't change the fact that this book was unfathomably tedious to read. Large parts of the book are about the gods of Pegana and whilst I was initially enjoying the fable-like nature of the storytelling, I soon became thoroughly bored by the repetition and by the increasingly ridiculous made-up place names. "Blog was the god of the city of Wiggly-Woo and his prophet was Authron Bifftang..." (I have just made that one up, but it gives you a sense of what you'll find here). Added to that is a deliberately obtuse use of archaic language filled, often in a single interminable sentence, with 'Thee, Thou, Thine' etcetera. Basically, reading this book rapidly became a chore and, were it not for my steadfast refusal not to put aside any book I start reading, I wouldn't have bothered continuing past the first quarter.
Somewhat frustratingly, there are some really, really good stories here too. In particular, about halfway through, we get a string of far shorter stories which have more art and narrative punch than anything in the long, drawn-out tales. Genuinely this book features some of the finest short stories in the fantasy genre but they are just sandwiched between and buried beneath an absolute torrent of tedious dross.
I'm well-aware that there are stuck-up fantasy purists who will want to burn me at the stake for such heresy, but I would recommend against reading this book cover to cover. If you're going to read it at all, perhaps dip in an out with a short story here and there, from time to time, instead of taking the torturous long-route through its pages that I did.
2 out of 5