Thanks for the loan, [ profile] sartorias! It's actually not at all like the thing I'm working on, except for the much-used premise of "modern young people get sucked into fantasy-land and fight in a war."

This is a fantasy classic which I somehow missed reading when I was younger. I think I would have liked it a lot more if I'd read it when I was twelve. I was surprised to see that the copyright date was 1970, because it reads a lot more dated than that; by textual evidence alone, I would have guessed 1950.

English brothers and sister Oliver, Penelope, and Nicholas are swept into a fantasy world where they get involved in a war, magic, and Gods.

Oliver is separated, loses his memories (by authorial fiat, not because he was knocked on the head), becomes completely absorbed into the culture of a tribe, grows into a young man, and becomes a unicorn-riding warrior.

Penelope and Nicholas meet a beautiful magical Princess, witness a battle between good and evil eagles (a gorgeously written scene), and unfortunately otherwise don't do all that much of anything. Nicholas delivers an important message, but all Penelope does is bring down a curse on a villain because he was cursed that bad things would happen to him if he saw blue eyes, and she has blue eyes... That sounds so much stupider when I write it out than it did when I read it. When I read it, I was just annoyed that Chant chose to make one of the two main female characters a helpless little girl who never does anything of import other than open her eyes.

The diction is very elevated, except when Nicholas and Penelope talk to each other, and I could have done with more culture clashes exploring that. I also could have done with more grittiness and human feeling. There was something about the way the book was written that made it feel very emotionally distant. To me, the most interesting thing in the whole book was that time passes much faster for Oliver than it does for his brother and sister, and there's some angst when they finally meet and he doesn't even recognize them. But it's soon abandoned for the sake of his battle with Satan (no, really), which I found much less interesting.

Apparently this was very revolutionary at the time it was written because the modern characters don't get their memories wiped at the end. But overall, my favorite thing about the book, apart from quite a few very lovely sentences, was the elves with the telepathic eyebrows.


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