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The king of Elfland's daughter by Lord…
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The king of Elfland's daughter (original 1924; edition 1972)

by Lord Dunsany, Lin Carter (Introduction)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,503294,924 (3.74)59
Member:bluesalamanders
Title:The king of Elfland's daughter
Authors:Lord Dunsany (Author)
Other authors:Lin Carter (Introduction)
Info:London : Tom Stacey, 1972.
Collections:Your library, Reviewed
Rating:***
Tags:type: mass market paperback, genre: fantasy, age: adult, genre: high fantasy, read 2014

Work details

The King of Elfland's Daughter by Lord Dunsany (1924)

Recently added bycedsaas, parasolofdoom, BayardUS, private library, hdcclassic, anibalott, maribou, Alendor
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English (28)  French (1)  All languages (29)
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
The King of Elfland's Daughter has some beautiful writing and does not take the usual fantasy route, but ultimately I only thought it was okay.

The overarching theme I got from this book is that the grass always looks greener (or in this case more twilight colored) on the other side. The event that sets the book in motion is a delegation of the common people asking their lord for a magical ruler. They imagine this distinction will bring them fame and happiness, but when they finally get their wish they come to regret it. Likewise the titular daughter yearns for the purples of Elfland when she is first brought to our world, then yearns for our world upon her return to her own. Ditto her husband, ditto a bunch of trolls. This brings the resolution into question in an interesting way as well: if the grass always appears greener when it isn't, then the King of Elfland's decision to use his final rune might have been the wrong one, as it seemingly abolishes the divide between the two worlds. Will this lead to the best of both worlds, or will it leave everyone pining for worlds that no longer exist? We don't find out, but the dark future that the King foresees doesn't suggest an easy journey.

Lord Dunsany can write well, and it was fun to read a work of fantasy that heavily influenced what followed (Lud-in-the-Mist comes to mind especially), but some flaws were that characters lacked much characterization and underwent no development, and that some of the sections of the story seemed rather pointless. Orion's infatuation for hunting, and eventually for hunting unicorns, serves to make the barriers between worlds more porous, but a lot of time was spent on it when the same could have been accomplished in far fewer pages. Other segments seemed overlong as well.

This book is loads better than most fantasy out there, so it's worth reading if you're a fan of the genre, but overall I found it pretty good instead of great. ( )
  BayardUS | Dec 10, 2014 |
I can't really understand people disliking this book. Well, no, I can: the language is olde worlde, the phrase 'the fields we know' is used far too many times, it's more of a fairytale like story than modern fantasy, though it's sold as being one of the defining moments for the genre, and if you're looking at it from a modern point of view, the characters and their motivations are hopelessly unsatisfying.

I thought the language was beautiful, though: Dunsany struck just the right note for me, and for the most part I liked his turns of phrase. Even the repeated 'the fields we know' phrase and others like it hark back to 'rosy-fingered Dawn' and other such epithets in Greek epics. I love fairytales, and I think Dunsany's mimesis here is pretty darn good. I can see how it influenced modern fantasy, and if you expect satisfying characters and development in a fairytale-esque story then... I'm not sure what you're after. Modern updates of the stories often inject that kind of thing, but it's not there originally.

Seriously, this book is just gorgeous, in my opinion. I wanted to wrap myself up in it, read some passages again and again, and I did actually genuinely feel the tension of how it would all be resolved. I loved the ending, the descriptions of Lirazel coming back to meet her son and husband. I loved the little asides, like the mischievous trolls.

So, so glad I finally read this. ( )
3 vote shanaqui | Jul 28, 2014 |
The council of Erl gather and speak and decide that they want their next lord to be magical. They tell their ruler this, and he sends his son to Elfland to find and marry the King of Elfland’s daughter.

I was surprised that the prince managed to find and marry the princess within the first chapter. That meant that the rest of the book had to be about - other things. It is a slow and meandering tale, with intricate and poetic language and not a lot of action. Sometimes I found the style and speed distracting, but generally I enjoyed it.

I thought I first heard of this book in a preface or afterward in one of Robin McKinley’s novels, though I can’t find it now. It makes sense, though; I can see the influence of this book’s style and language and characters throughout her work.

I'm glad I read it, but I'll be honest: it's not a book I'm planning to read again, and I wouldn't recommend it to most people. ( )
1 vote bluesalamanders | Jan 15, 2014 |
An overstretched fairy tale where, most of the time, nothing really happens. I went through the story pretty slowly, reading only a couple of chapters at a time, till I reached the end. But nothing changed, I've read endless stretches of beautiful prose about the various fantastic flowers and animals of Elfland, so what?

Some people liked this story. I didn't.

Two stars because it was well written, and because it could have been much, much better... ( )
1 vote HellCold | Jun 29, 2013 |
Maybe not quite 4 stars overall but plenty close enough. This may drag for a lot of people but if you have the patience it should be read for the experience. ( )
  Yona | May 2, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lord Dunsanyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pepper, BobCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schuchart, MaxTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sweet, DarrylCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Waterhouse, John W.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wyatt, KathyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Lady Dunsany
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In their ruddy jackets of leather that reached to their knees the men of Erl appeared before their lord, the stately white-haired man in his long red room.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
HAPPILY NEVER AFTER...HAPPILY NEVER AFTER...

The people of the Vale of Erl wanted magic in their land. And so it was that their king sent his son, young Alveric - into the strangely enchanted meadows of Faerie to find and wed the King of Elfland's daughter.

So armed with a wondrous sword forged from thunderbolts by the witch Ziroonderel, Alveric went off to do his father's bidding. And he returned to the Vale with the beautiful Lirazel as his beloved wife.

Their love was passionate and strong, but it was no match for the magic of the King of Elfland...a magic powerful enough to whisk Lirazel away from her husband and son.

Bereft, Alveric set out on the most impossible mission any mortal ever dared...
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 034543191X, Paperback)

All fantasy and horror fans owe it to themselves to read Lord Dunsany (1878-1957). The sword & sorcery genre was born in his early stories, and high fantasy was indelibly transformed by his novels. His profound influence on 20th-century fantastic fiction is visible in authors as dissimilar as Neil Gaiman, H.P. Lovecraft, and J.R.R. Tolkien.

Lord Dunsany's best-known novel is The King of Elfland's Daughter (1924), wherein the men of Erl desire to be "ruled by a magic lord," and the lord's heir, Alveric, ventures into Elfland to win the king's daughter, Lirazel. Their story does not progress as a reader weaned on the diluted milk of formulaic fantasy would expect; and the novel's unique journeys and events are matched by Dunsany's rich and lyrical prose and by his contagious intoxication with the magic and marvels of both Elfland and our own world. --Cynthia Ward

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:36:37 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A young prince ventures into a mysterious forest in search of the land of Faerie and of a princess bride, in one of the landmarks of modern fantasy fiction.

(summary from another edition)

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