Silverlock by John Myers Myers

June 27, 2006 at 12:00 am | Posted in 4 stars, Book Reviews, Fantasy | Leave a comment

Silverlock has a reputation as a fantasy masterpiece, but while it is quite a unique piece of work I wouldn’t call it a masterpiece. It’s also not exactly fantasy. Not really. Published in 1948, this is a story about, well, stories. Myers draws characters and situations from dozens…probably hundreds…of famous public domain stories and legends. If you enjoy spotting references, this is probably worth it on those grounds alone. People who enjoy that are the ones who label this book a masterpiece. I however don’t really find reference hunting to be all that entertaining. Consequently I was more interested in the story itself. It’s in a mode I’m not too fond of, the picaresque. The main character starts out as a thoroughly unlikable jerk but his strange journeys cause him to change. It’s all well executed, but cribbing as it does from so many sources it didn’t feel all that original until the last fourth of the book, when the story unexpectedly turns from episodic hijinks into a meditation on the meaning of life. If you’ve read many of my reviews you know this was more up my alley, and indeed I found it quite interesting. Ultimately I’m not sure many modern readers will enjoy Silverlock, but if you are widely read in pre-1900s literature you probably will find much to like, and for the rest of us ultimately there are some interesting ideas as well.

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