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The Folk of the Air by Peter S. Beagle
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The Folk of the Air

by Peter S. Beagle

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646914,945 (3.84)26
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» See also 26 mentions

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I read this about te time t came out 30 years ago and have not reread it, so my memory of the plot is vague, but basically the hero is involved with friends in the League for Archaic Pleasures, a very obvious version of an extremely early form of the Society for Creative Anachronism, with people with very clumsy weapons and armor (out of date by 1986 in the real SCA) having medieval-style battles and tournaments. Some members strongly resemble genuine early members of the SCA; in particular a very large, very nice African-American bears a strong resemblance to Master El of the Two Knives (Elliot Shorter) one-time seneschal of the East KIngdom. The critical point is that some members of the LAP can work real magic, and some of the magic is very dark. Ultimately, the plot climaxes in an attempt to use dark magic to win what the SCA would call a crown tourney, which is, if I recall rightly, narrowly defeated, but leaves the hero so disillusioned that he drops out of the LAP. The sad tone at the end resembles the tone of Robert Asprin's "The Khakhan's Lament".
As a veteran SCA member myself, I can recognize the atmosphere, though not the maigc, but like the hero's Master-El-like friend, I have remained in the SCA. ( )
  antiquary | Nov 1, 2016 |
In Which Peter Beagle Discovers the SCA, and Thinks it is Pretty Nifty.

Joe Farrell, a hippieish slacker lute player wanders into the super-Berkeley-ish town of Avicenna, California to crash with his old friend Ben for a while. Ben and Joe's old friend-and-lover Julie introduce Joe to the SCA (I mean, the League of Archaic Pleasures), who's delighted to embrace an expert lutenist.
Joe is slightly weirded out by his friend's new lover, who's much older than Ben, and rather strange. But he rolls with it. However, as he gets deeper into the League, the mundane and the supernatural, the past and the present become intertwined as malicious witchcraft and ancient nature magic head toward a showdown; and innocent enthusiasts may just be in the way of forces beyond their control.

I had mixed feelings about the book. As someone familiar with the SCA, I wasn't really that enthused about the detailed descriptions of the activities of the group, which take up quite a bit of real estate here. It takes quite a long time to get into anything supernatural or fantastic at all, and I just wasn't that interested in Joe Farrell's rootless life, his hobbies, or his romantic issues.
However, once it does get going - there's some powerful, good stuff here. It features an excellent portrayal of a nature goddess. In many ways, the goddess here reminded me of another, older aspect of George MacDonald's goddess figures (although I think that might have rather horrified MacDonald).

( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
No one ever forgets the fight between the man with the knife, and the man with the Volkswagen Bus! I really like the book, and it explains so much abut the kind of person who ends up in the SCA! You read it, you'll keep it! ( )
  DinadansFriend | Oct 14, 2013 |
I was not far into this book when I realized I had read it previously and not particularly liked it. I liked it better this time out, but I don't think Beagle plays fair with his readers, really, in this novel. ( )
  nmele | Apr 6, 2013 |
I don't know why I love this book so much I just do. ( )
  bunwat | Mar 30, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Peter S. Beagleprimary authorall editionscalculated
Johnson, HollyDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kukalis, RomasCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pinkett, NeilCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shaw, BarclayCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Farrell arrived in Avicenna at four-thirty in the morning, driving a very old Volkswagen bus named Madame Schumann-Heink.
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