Alan Garner’s Weirdstone of Brisingamen is nominally a children’s Fantasy novel. Released in 1960, an early contribution to the post Lord of the Rings Fantasy canon, Weirdstone is beautiful tale, weaving local legend with folklore, welsh and norse mythology and language. It is, perhaps, a book best read at a young age. I know a number of people for whom Weirstone holds a special place in their hearts, remembered with great fondness.
I discovered the book much later in life, and although I enjoyed it a great deal, I fear that it will never quite hold that special place for me as it does for others who discovered the novel as children. It is still an enjoyable read for an adult, and particularly interesting for fans of Fantasy. The themes and concepts within the book may seem almost stereotypical or overused, but that’s because this book came first – it’s a novel that influenced many great authors, something I was unaware of until I read the book and recognised its influence in books I’ve read previously that were published later than Weirdstone.
It’s a great book for children – an easier read for younger readers than some of Tolkein’s work. Set in Cheshire, rather than a fictional world, much of the novel’s setting is readily recognisable. There’s good and evil, wizards and elves and dwarves, and all the ingredients of great Fantasy. And for adults keen to learn about Fantasy, it’s a great example of an early pioneer in the post-Tolkein era.