TanRu wrote:I agree. It's kind of a slog for me to get through. I do enjoy the recurring themes, "the fields we know" and so on.
These remind me of Homeric epithets - basically, stock phrases that were used to pad out the lines to the proper number of syllables when reciting an epic poem. It's not the only thing about Dunsany's writing that conveys to me the improvised feel of the spoken story. There's no sense of economy of words, and the plot has a somewhat haphazard feel to it. I'm reminded that Wikipedia says Dunsany never revised what he wrote, that everything was a first draft. I find him pretty charming, but he's really sloppy by today's standards, or even near-contemporary Tolkien's.
Now, given the title and Dunsany's reputation, I had expected high fantasy and fairy-tale language. So I was thrown for a loop by the first chapter, which gave me the impression that I was reading something quite different. (I'll dispense with spoiler tags since people will have read the first chapter by now.) It suggests that Alveric gained the good graces of the witch, who is by no means a milf, by sleeping with her. Hanky-panky on page 6! Then the witch is mucking about with "the thigh-bone of a materialist!" That's hilarious! I began to wonder if I was reading the proto-Pratchett.
On the next page, the aftermath of the meteor-melting fire is described as looking "like the evil pool that glares were thermite has burst." It's a glaring anachronism, but an interesting one that hints at Dunsany's experiences in WWI. It's followed by another hilarious passage, where the magical sword is described as smelling like thyme and looking like lilac and rhododendrons. Definitely a sword for the "seasoned" adventurer.
Unfortunately, these entertaining oddities subside after the first chapter, and the story goes into standard fairy-tale mode, as kajabor points out.