The Chronicles of Morgaine is the oldest, tattiest, most worn out and dogeared book on my shelf. I own a 1986 edition – bought new – and it has survived about six house moves, numerous car-boot-sale culls and a protracted period in a cardboard box in a loft sometime during the 1990’s. It is the most re-read of any of my books and, over the last 25 or so years it has done faithful service as a sort of literary comfort-food, a paperback rice pudding, if you will.
Now that all of my reading is done on a Kindle, this is the book that reminds me what reading a paper book feels and smells like. When I have replaced all of my paper books with electronic ones, THIS is the one, held together with strata of yellowing sellotape, that will remain on the shelf, defiantly paperiferous.
I really love the story. It is a collection of three books, “Gate of Ivrel”, Well of Shiuan” and “Fires of Azeroth”. From the title and cover art you might be forgiven for thinking this is a bit of a sword & sandal, Conan & Sonja saga – nothing like it! It owes far more to Arthurian legend (and with a fair dose of Lord of the Rings) than anything and there isn’t a bulging loincloth to be found.
What more to be said? the plot is long and linear, based as it is around Morgaine’s ill-fated quest and Vanye’s struggle with his oath of fealty to her. There are battles and betrayals, pursuits and travails aplenty, and none of it matters. Once you “get it” you realise that the *real* story is about the developing relationship, uneasy and unwilling at first, between the two protagonists; the fey, unpredictable and beautiful Morgaine and her faithful warrior servant, young, persistent and deeply flawed Vanye.