What I just read, my first book of the Millenium! The Green Prince Book Review
- Just read this fantasy novel, my review of which will be posted at the
websites where my writing regularly appears (the troll.net, rambles.net and
Blue Iris Journal),but I wanted to share with you folks first! Thanks!
HAPPY NEW MILLENIUM! AMY
The Green Prince by Sophie Masson, (Hodder Headline Australia, Sydney, Oct.
2000, $16.49 AUS, trade paperback, ISBN#: 0-7336-0791-8).
Sophie Masson, an Australian expert on medieval European history and
folklore who also happens to be the author of a number of excellent fantasy
novels that express her interests, is finally getting her work published in
Great Britain. One of her books has been made available in the USA so far by
a small, independent publisher. Her latest work, released in Australia,
(but easily obtainable on the Internet), is one of her best yet and deserves
much wider distribution and attention.
'The Green Prince', using Welsh and Celtic myth and folklore pertaining to
the watery worlds and the denizens thereof of streams, rivers and the sea
as its source of inspiration, is set in medieval England and opens in the
small provincial village of Crundall. This is where the protagonist,
16-year-old orphan Jack Fisher with his eccentric affinity for aquatic
environs and the fisherman's trade makes his home.
Immediately, Masson's shimmering poetic prose style sweeps the reader into
the story, for the text is so rich in vivid description, background detail
and emotional intensity that, the characters and plot spring to life. Jack,
enjoying the annual local Fair, is mesmerized by the 'exhibit' in this
year's freak show---a powerful-looking merman whose telepathic
communications convince him that he is genuine. Vagan, the ambassador from
the undersea Green Kingdom, is actually on a mission to find the hero needed
to fight the fearsome Grimlow, Monster of Darkness, Master of the Abyss and
Jack, by reason of his mysterious heritage (later to be revealed), responds
to the call to meet his destiny.
Jack, absconding with Vagan and aided by the amusing, froglike Shellycoat
(the local spring-spirit), embarks on the adventure of his life gripped by
confusion, doubts and the requisite excitement. Mer-magic enables the
protagonist to function underwater with total ease as he undertakes a
classic quest which involves journeying through the river province of the
Lady Tam and the mysterious realm of Fanach of the Lake until the climax in
the Green Kingdom ruled by the refreshingly female, eponymous Green Prince.
Jack's life-transforming experiences in the water-world involve encounters
with colorful characters out of lore and legend: selkies and kabyls
(kelpies), and the like and most importantly, the half-human, strong and
spirited Linn (to be the love of his life), Heiress of Fanach.
Masson's descriptions of the undersea realms and their inhabitants are
delightfully imaginative, atmospheric, and full of wonder and inventiveness
with such set pieces as: Lady Tam's 'river cattle' and their magical
connections to the origins of amber (!); the 'soul cages'; and the oddly
computeresque, silvery, translucent sea-books being most memorable and
affecting. Of course, all this and Jack's utterly believable hesitations,
fears and uncertainties lead up to the confrontation with the terrifying
Grimlow, an effectively resonant representation of the dark force, the evil
monster that lurks not only in the literal Abyss, but also in the depths of
all human hearts. How Jack copes with this trial, resolved in a classically
folkloric manner, is both dramatically and emotionally satisfying and a
fitting conclusion to this lovely fantasy. 'The Green Prince' is so
colorfully aquatic, awash with swift-flowing, exciting plotting, with the
deeper meanings a shining subtext serving to enhance the book's evocative
entertainment value, that the diligent reader willing to fish for it in the
vast ocean of the Internet, will be richly rewarded!