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The Weirdstone of Brisingamen: A Tale of Alderley Hardcover – June, 1969

4.6 out of 5 stars 68 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Alderley Series

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Hardcover, June, 1969
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Readers who love E. Nesbit or Susan Cooper may discover a new favorite in Alan Garner, winner of many awards for literary excellence including the Carnegie Medal. The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, first published in 1960, is the story of two children, Susan and Colin, who are sent to rural England to stay with Bess Mossock, their mother's childhood nurse. The Mossocks' farm is delightfully old-fashioned, and the Alderley area is dotted with interesting woods to explore as well as treacherous disused mines. Susan and Colin encounter a frightening local woman, and feel they are being watched by crows. The air of menace quickly becomes acute danger as the children are pursued by small goblinlike beings, who truss them in cobwebby ropes. An ancient wizard named Cadellin comes to their rescue. As they learn more of the dark forces that threaten Alderley, Susan and Colin find themselves on the run through the abandoned mine tunnels, aided by a pair of heroic dwarfs.

Garner's knowledge of folklore and the Alderley area--his characters' dialect sounds realistic instead of like rote fantasy-speak--imbues his story with a thoughtful depth. His writing is as clear as poetry: "And they passed between the stones, only to stop short a couple of paces later, with despair in their hearts, cold as the east wind." There is a sequel to The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, called The Moon of Gomrath, and both books are superbly written, absorbing tales of wizardry and adventure. --Blaise Selby --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Marvelously exciting . . . the story is ferocious and deeply felt."--New Statesman
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Random House Childrens Books; First Edition edition (June 1969)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809824108
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809824106
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,144,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Marc Ruby™ HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on May 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
When the wizard Cadellin took up his guardianship of 140 knights who await the final battle, he had yet to acquire one last horse. When he did so, the price was higher than he expected, for the seller took the stone Firefrost, the key that keeps the knights asleep and would wake them when they were needed. And so, it was lost to the sight of Cadellin.
This is the past that shapes the story of young Susan and Colin, children sent to stay with Gowther and Bess Mossock in Cheshire while their parents are abroad. For unknown to her, Susan bears the Wierdstone itself and the children quickly find themselves at the center of a great struggle between what is fair and what is utterly evil.
They will be menaced but the evil svarts and rescued by Cadellin. They will see Firefrost fall into the hands of the witch, Selena Place and Grimnir, the dark wizard. In the company of Gowther and two dwarves, Fenodree and Durathor they will snatch the stone back from the hands of the morthbrood and quest through tunnel, cave and forest to return it to Cadellin. And they will face a final battle at the edge of Ragnarok.
In an era of fantasy writing when we expect lengthy trilogies as a matter of course, it is amazing how few of them stand up to the standard set by this little (195 page) tale for young readers. Garner is a brilliant writer, who knows exactly how phrase his words so that they gain magical weight and shape without ever becoming over blown and stilted. From the first paragraph, the reader knows that this is something special and is quickly drawn into the world that lies behind the mundane appearances of rural Cheshire. Trees menace, mansions conceal passages to the underworld, and wizards live behind stones and under lakes.
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In "The Weirdstone of Brisingamen," award-winning Cheshire writer Alan Garner retells the ancient legend of the cave of the sleeping king as a Young Adult fantasy. His story treads very lightly on the mantle of "Lord of the Rings," and a bit more heavily on Arthurian legend, but draws mainly from local folklore and Scandinavian mythology.
Except for school, a brief stint at Magdalen College, Oxford, and service in the Army, Mr. Garner has lived in Cheshire near Alderly Edge, as did generations of his family. He knows the `Weirdstone' terrain as well as its folklore, and he writes about what he knows: the cliffs and meres of Alderley Edge; and the maze of mines and tunnels that underlies Cheshire.
`Weirdstone' doesn't follow the path of a true Arthurian romance, except for the Cave Legend, and the brief appearance of Angharad Goldenhand who might or might not be the Lady of the Lake.

(The story of a king and his followers sleeping in a secret cave predates Arthur, but became attached to him as the `once and future king,' who will wake to serve his country again in time of great peril.)
There is also the wizard who guards the Cave. In this story, his name is Cadellin, and a few centuries past he misplaced the Weirdstone of Brisingamen while bargaining for a milk-white mare.
This story really begins when two children, Colin and Susan get off the train at Alderley Station. They are going to stay on the Mossock farm while their parents travel abroad, as Mrs. Mossock was their mother's former nurse. Susan happens to be wearing a bracelet set with an unusual stone, and we gradually learn the history of the stone, which has been passed down from mother to daughter of a local Chesire family, and finally to Susan.
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Format: Paperback
Wizards, dwarves, goblins and elves - Tolkien, right? Wrong. Alan "Weirdstone of Brisingamen," a spellbinding story in the true tradition of imaginative and inventive fantasy. Using various bits of Celtic and Norse mythology, Garner wound together an astounding story.
Colin and Susan, a pair of English schoolkids, are sent to Alderly for a six-month vacation with their mother's old nurse and her husband. Things start off normally enough, with the kids exploring the area and the myths, legends and superstitions surrounding it. But things begin to take an eerie turn when they encounter a spell-chanting old woman named Selina Place - and then a horde of svart-alfar, hideous and hostile goblins.
They are unexpectedly rescued by the wizard Cadellin, who is the keeper of a company of knights sleeping deep under Alderly. They will awaken at some time in the future, to combat the evil spirit Nastrond and his minions in the final, magical battle. There's just one problem: long ago, Cadellin lost the Weirdstone of Brisingamen, the magical jewel that bound the knights there in the first place. Susan realizes too late that the little misty teardrop gem in her bracelet is the Weirdstone - and it's been stolen. The kids team up with Cadellin, the dwarves Fenodyree and Durathror, the lios-alfar (elves), and their friend Gowther to find the Weirdstone - and save the world.
Written in the 1960s, this book effectively combines the English-schoolkids-swept-into-magical adventure subgenre with mythology and the overlap of our world with another. Garner's wizards, dwarves, elves and goblins are as legit as Tolkien's, as Garner draws heavily from mythos and legends. There are similarities to Tolkien's creations, but they are sufficiently different that not once do you feel the need to compare.
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