Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Moon of Gomrath - Alan Garner

Alan Garner's The Moon of Gomrath is the sequel to The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, but women are in the ascendant in this book: Susan is captured and possessed by the Brollachan, an entity with no body of its own, that takes over mortal flesh and inhabits it until the flesh dwindles because no mortal can bear its tenancy for long. After Cadellin forces the Brollachan out of Susan's body, her spirit wanders and is not recovered until Colin finds the Mothan, a magical plant that can only be seen at full moon by following the old straight track. Fortunately Colin finds the Mothan and Susan is brought back from her wanderings with Celemon and the other Shining Ones, the Daughters of the Moon.

The attack on Susan by the Brollachan was engineered by the Morrigan who is out for revenge after her treatment at the hands of Colin and Susan and their companions (as told in The Weirdstone of Brisingamen). Thus Susan and Colin finds themselves up against the Morrigan's magic again, so the Morrigan captures Colin with the intention of holding him hostage until she can get hold of Susan, but Susan will soon come into her powers, acquired through the Mark of Fohla, a bracelet given to her (in the preceding book) by Angharad Goldenhand as a replacement for the Weirdstone and a protection, too, against the Morrigan. In another Tolkienian echo, Angharad Goldenhand (also known as the Lady of the Lake, interestingly) inhabits a place (an island in this instance) where Time moves differently as it does in Lothlorien. Besides the bracelet, she gives Susan a horn to sound when things are desperate (an echo of the Horn of the Mark which Eowyn gives to Merry), and she sends wine to Susan (when Susan is still unconscious after the Brollachan is expelled) which has many virtues, including the power of bodily endurance, like Galadriel's Lembas. Interestingly dwarves play a significant role again, moreso than the lios-alfar (elves), and Cadellin seems like a lesser Gandalf.

I did not find this book as compelling to read as The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, and it seemed to have a rather abrupt ending. The men are definitely lesser characters in this book, which I found particularly interesting, given my continuing quest for fantasy fiction with strong female characters.

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