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Silverlock needs no introduction, though this reprint bears three; skip them. A. Clarence Shandon, not a very pleasant person, falls into a postmodern whirlwind tour of folklore and literature, with a bard as his Virgil. Shandon gradually absorbs better qualities from the people he encounters. The plot is great fun; the true entertainment for many readers comes from playing spot-the-reference, for Myers packed every page with scraps and tags of blended allusions to other works. Don't worry -- the story is wonderful even if you're not well-versed, but you may find yourself suddenly interested in the Odyssey, ballads, Izaak Walton, Don Quixote or Apuleius.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This book is half Pilgrim's Progress, half Divine Comedy, half outright allegory and complete fun. A. Clarence Shandon, the Silverlock of the title, is not a very nice person as the story opens. Shipwrecked, he is saved by Widsith Amerigin Demodocus Taliesin Golias, who is more than a bard, he is a Maker. And from the moment he meets Golias, Silverlock falls into stories, one after another. He lands on the great island of the Commonwealth, which at one level is the Commonwealth of letters, literature, stories. And on another is simply a grand romp through the great stories of our culture. For Silverlock, who is as ignorant of literature as a fish, it's initially simply something that happens to him. He is, in Golias's kind phrase, "Not well informed." Nor are we. Whether it's hanging out with Robin Hood, wandering into the scenes of Shakespeare's "Midsummer's Night Dream, or quaffing mead with Beowulf, or even his own quests; it's initially all the same. But gradually the stories he lives and the stories he hears, and Golias's own example, transform him into a better person. I could tell you that "Silverlock" is an allegory, that Myers is telling you that literature has the power to transform, and make a person better, and that life without literature is not worth living. But that's like saying "Hamlet" is a story about a depressed prince. Saying this book is an allegory is implying its cod liver oil. It's not. This book is masterful as pure, sweet entertainment; the encounter with Izaak Walton and a dozen others is amusing even if you have never heard of any of them. Sure, what makes the book even more fun is trying to recognize the characters and situations Silverlock encounters.Read more ›
Upon reading 'Silverlock' for the first time, expect to experience the sense of awe and wonder that explorers feel when first discovering strange and wonderful new lands. 'Silverlock is a hidden classic, on par with Tolkien in quality, yet utterly unique. For readers who enjoy fantasy but have become weary of the genre's cliches and vast quantity of derivitive material, 'Silverlock' is Eldorado. 'Silverlock' is a masterpiece that works on several levels. It is a first rate adventure yarn, following the misadventures of the title character from his ship wreck in unknown waters through many close scrapes, battles, drinking bouts, and wenchings in the enchanted realm of the Commonwealth of Letters. It is also a clever allegory, following the development of Silverlock as he changes from a cold cynic with no knowledge or respect for the world of literature, to an enthusiastic aspirant maker of tales. And finally, it is an incredible literary game. Every person, place, and thing in Silverlock, outside of the protagonist is lifted from the vast range of literature and myth, from Gilgamesh to Mark Twain, and the challenge to identify these tantalizing references proves irresistable to most readers. These literary references and the way Silverlock interacts with them create the book's unique magic. A typical series of scenes finds Silverlock emerging from the forest where the night before he has been the guest of Robin Hood and his merry band; stopping at a tavern and lunching with the Mad Hatter and his party, and pushing on for an evening feast at Heorot Hall, where the revelers are celebrating the death of Grendel by recounting the tale of the Alamo in Norse verse. All this and more in but one chapter.
'Silverlock' is a book you will come back to many times.Read more ›
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Okay, this book has 30-odd reviews, all of the with five stars, and some with titles like "the best book ever written". What's up with that? Well... if you are one of the people unlucky enough not to know A. Clarence Shandon, aka Silverlock, then scroll back up and add this book to your cart now. I can tell you all about this book (as anyone's review will do), but it'll just come off as hyperbole. I mean: reference hunting? What's fun about that? Pilgrim's Progress? Wasn't that one of those tedious books you read in high school (and hated)? Okay, it sounds boring or tedious or somehow suspect, but this book will make your cheek muscles hurt from the silly grin you'll wear while reading it. The plot exists in part to hang all of these delightful songs (yes, songs), characters, rimshots, and, well, yes, references off of. But it never slows down or gets tedious at all. You'll find yourself merrily zipping along right through it. It is hard to find because it comes and goes from print--this book's the size of a Michener novel--and most people get this white-knuckled grip on their second or third copy (the first ones always having been loaned out and NEVER returned). This book is LOVED, and if you don't know about it you should (again) scroll up and purchase it now... because... ...like the Hippocrene spring at the end of the book, I can tell you all about it, but you'll never *really* understand until you've sipped from its waters.
Silverlock is a fun, roller coaster ride through literature. It chronicles the journey--inner and outer--of an American cynic as he travels through the world of literature. Some of the fun is tracking down the literary characters, from Beowulf to Don Quixote to Becky Sharp. Part of me regrets not having been born in the 1950s to relish Silverlock fully; the Internet makes finding the sources of the characters effortless. Hopefully, readers take the next step and read the original sources to expand their understanding and appreciation of literature. In my opinion, the novel posits that literature is an evolving, cumulative organism. Modern (American) literature is built on the foundation of the stories that came before. The novel shows that someone can find meaning in the stories he or she encounters, and sharing those experiences--and possibly using them to invent new stories--is one of the joys of life. Anyone with respect for literature and the history of speculative reading should give Silverlock a try.
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