'You've long set your heart against it, Axl, I know. But it's time now to think on it anew. There's a journey we must go on, and no more delay...'
The Buried Giant begins as a couple set off across a troubled land of mist and rain in the hope of finding a son they have not seen in years.Sometimes savage, often intensely moving, Kazuo Ishiguro's first novel in a decade is about lost memories, love, revenge and war.
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Ten years after his super selling futuristic Never Let Me Go, Ishiguro takes us back to Dark Ages Britain to set his fable on memory, forgetting, love, war and revenge. As ever with Ishiguro, the beauty of his prose is deceiving, hiding an unsettling edge which can be hard to pinpoint.
First review ever because I hated this book and don't want others to read the reviews and buy it.
The language is awful and jarring and not fluid to read. The characters aren't likeable and the story is not engaging. I wouldn't have bothered finishing it but I have a rule to always finish books. If you don't like it at the beginning - it doesn't get better.
The Buried Giant draws on Arthurian mythology and the history of invasion and racial tension through the Dark Ages to examine memory at both an individual and societal level. Reading this puts one in mind of listening to a story told over winter months stuck inside, both beautiful and with more to grasp than what is apparent on the surface. As always Ishiguro, with his particular ability to reinvent his writing style for each book, has delivered a completely new novel to anything he's previously written.
“…for if we’re mortal let us at least shine handsomely in God’s eyes while we walk this earth!”
The Buried Giant is the seventh novel by award-winning Japanese author, Kazuo Ishiguro. Set in post-Arthurian Britain, it follows the journey of a Briton couple, Axl and Beatrice, as they travel some distance to a village where their son, whom they have not seen for quite some years, now waits for them. Along the way, they are drawn into dramas and conflicts involving the people they encounter. The couple are convinced the land is plagued by a mist of forgetfulness, and determined to learn the cause, trusting their love will withstand any memories that are revealed.
Having already met a ferryman and a resentful widow, they are eventually accompanied by a Saxon warrior, a boy with a strange wound and an Arthurian knight with his faithful steed. At a monastery they seek and find wisdom and healing, but are also met with betrayal, monsters, and soldiers. And while one monk asserts “…we must uncover what’s hidden and face the past”, they have difficulty discerning truths from the half-truths and lies they are told. And if they achieve their goal and clear the mist? “Who knows what will come when quick-tongued men make ancient grievances rhyme with fresh desire for land and conquest?”
Ishiguro fills his tale with creatures, characters, objects and happenings from myth and legend: a she-dragon, pixies, a ferry crossing, ogres, instruments of torture, secret tunnels and sword battles. He touches on hate and tolerance, enmity and allegiance, honour and duty, love, loyalty and revenge, war and peace. An Arthurian form of censorship also features. Ishiguro treats the reader to some beautiful prose, but readers of his earlier work will remark on how different this one is. Quite unexpected.
With thanks to The Reading Room and Allen and Unwin for this copy to read and review.