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The King of Elfland's Daughter (Del Rey Impact) Paperback – July 6, 1999


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Product Details

  • Series: Del Rey Impact
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; Reprint edition (July 6, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034543191X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345431912
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #179,058 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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

Review

"Inventor of a new mythology and weaver of surprising folklore, Lord Dunsany stands dedicated to a strange world of fantastic beauty . . . unexcelled in the sorcery of crystalline singing prose, and supreme in the creation of a gorgeous and languorous world of incandescently exotic vision. No amount of mere description can convey more than a fraction of Lord Dunsany's pervasive charm."
--H. P. Lovecraft

Lord Dunsany "who has imagined colors, ceremonies and incredible processions . . . has yet never wearied of the most universal of emotions and the one most constantly associated with the sense of beauty; and when we come to examine these astonishments that seemed so alien we find that he has but transfigured with beauty the commons sights of the world."
--William Butler Yeats

"I shall indeed be happy if this volume contributes to the rediscovery of one of the greatest writers of this century."
--Arthur C. Clarke

"A fantasy novel in a class with the Tolkien books."
--L. Sprague de Camp

Customer Reviews

This is writing that requires close reading, otherwise the beauty can be glossed over and missed.
David Brockert
Lord Dunsany's beautiful prose poem The King of Elfland's Daughter is one of the seminal novels of fantasy literature and offers everything such a book should.
K. Jump
The story has such power, is written so lyrically, is woven so richly, that there can be few comparisons.
JD_AUK

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

137 of 161 people found the following review helpful By A. C. H. Bergh on July 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
When Terry Goodkind's "Soul of the Fire" - part of one of those multi-volume "epic" fantasy series so popular these days - was not yet released, Amazon readers had already posted a few hundred reviews of the book, almost all of which rated it at 5 stars. None of them had read a word of what they were reviewing, but that didn't stop them.
At the time of writing this, there are just a handful of reviews of Dunsany's "The King of Elfland's Daughter", which was first published in 1924 and which is one of the true classic fantasies of all time. And I doubt a great number will follow.
That's fashion for you.
Still, in about twenty or thirty years from now, I very much doubt if a lot of fantasy afficianados will be able to remember Terry Goodkind at all (let alone "Soul of the Fire"). But I do know that they'll remember Dunsany. As they will William Morris, E.R. Eddison, C.S. Lewis, and - of course - J.R.R. Tolkien.
You see, these are the original masters of fantasy. A lot of good - at times great - fantasy has been written since then (writers like Patricia McKillip, Stephen Donaldson, Ursula LeGuin, Guy Gavriel Kay come to mind), but these are the Old Ones. The ones, if you like, Who Knew What They Were Talking About.
To explain (in the case of Dunsany): a few years back, when in Ireland, I tried to visit the Dunsany ancestral home (yes, this is real aristocracy). I remember asking a local farmer for directions; then, after a little searching, I found a secluded gateway. I drove up the lane, crowded with trees, turned right - and there it was. One of the most beautiful and hospitable - and very real - castles you could imagine.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By JD_AUK on November 13, 1999
Format: Paperback
Lord Dunsany is acknowledged by many, including leading authors (from W.B. Yeats and Lovecraft to top writers of today) as one of the greatest contributors to the field of modern fantasy. Sadly, many of his works have been allowed by publishers to slip out of print and many readers today have never had the chance... This book is one of his best and anyone who enjoys fantastic fiction, myth or legend should try it. The story has such power, is written so lyrically, is woven so richly, that there can be few comparisons. You care about the people, you can see the realms before you. There is depth and complexity, joy and heartbreak, detail and sweeping vision, and a leavening of humour (some supplied by the people of the land but especially by the troll... and no, this is not some stereotypical "bad guy on a bridge"). For style and reach, few can touch Dunsany. Don't miss out - and when you've read this book, try "The Charwoman's Shadow", also reprinted. For something different, there's a whole alternate mythology in "The Complete Pegana" and some truly outstanding short stories in "The Hashish Man" - and keep an eye out for any other Dunsany works. Maybe even write or e-mail a publisher or two to look for more...
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50 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Ian M. Slater on November 7, 2004
Format: Paperback
Another review, after three-dozen? Is anything of interest left to be said about this 1924 fantasy novel by Lord Dunsany?

Well, yes., I think that there is. The confusion expressed by some reviewers is easy to understand. After more than three quarters of a century, "The King of Elfland's Daughter" remains remarkably hard to place. Not absolutely unique on the level of details, it stands apart when seen as a whole. Although the author's copious and skillful writing in an improbable variety of genres set him apart from the rest of the Anglo-Irish Peerage, he seems to have shared their assumption that a man of his position and rank could do as he pleased, when he pleased. Including what he wanted to write.

As a result, this book won't fit into any neat category, whether it existed then, or emerged later.

The book seems to open with an idealized medieval scene, like one of the late-Victorian medieval romances by William Morris ("The Wood Beyond the World" or "The Well at the World's End"). We meet the old, wise, and patient lord of Erl, and the skilled and industrious people of Erl, ruled by a line that goes back seven hundred years. That takes a couple of paragraphs, and is interwoven with plot developments; despite a reputation for elaborate prose ("iridescent, crystalline, singing," according to H.P. Lovecraft), Dunsany could really be quite concise.

But, in a moment worthy of Dunsany's American contemporary, James Branch Cabell, at his most mordant, we meet these stolid people as the Parliament of Erl, taking the initiative for the first time in five centuries, asks that the land be ruled by "a magic lord.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By R. M. Fisher TOP 500 REVIEWER on March 5, 2003
Format: Paperback
After reading mostly positive reviews on this webpage concerning Lord Dunsany's novel I went in search of it, and found it at my university library. Reading it was quite a different experience for me, but people who aren't prepared for the style of writing like I was might be disappointed, confused or scorning of the slow, dream-like pace, archetype characters and poetical language. This might be especially true of fans of typical 'fantasy' genre books (authors such as David Eddings or Terry Brooks) where a fantasy universe is deemed to be good only if it has a solid backing and an exhaustive array of facts and figures to add realism to the stories. Lord Dusany however, expects the reader to take for granted the existence of Elfland, trolls, elves and will o' the wisps, without trying to explain them. 'The King of Elfland's Daughter' is refreshingly free of geographies, biologies, cultures, or other infinite details that are so prevailent in other fantasy cult books.
The story goes that the Parliament of Erl approaches their king, eager for their small country to be known throughout the lands. The solution is for it to somehow imbue magic into its royalty, and to achieve this the king sends his son Alveric into Elfland to make the King of Elfland's daughter his wife. Alveric is successful in this, and brings the beautiful Lirazel back to Erl, where they have a child Orien. The King of Elfland however desparatly wants his daughter returned to him, and by use of three powerful runes, contrives to bring her back to her home.
Dunsany delves into several themes throughout the book, all framed by the contrasts of Erl and Elfland.
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