Mythago Wood (Echo)

One of the things I appreciate about my parents is their affinity for science fiction and fantasy literature. I inherited a love for the latter, and I’ve learned to respect some of the former. In my father’s collection of books he had a few issues of Fantasy and Science Fiction that I delved into during my early teen years.

One of these issues held Robert Holdstock’s “Mythago Wood”, a 33 page novella that won various awards and which he later expanded into a novel of the same name. The story hadn’t stayed in my mind during the years after I read it, if indeed I had, but now that I’ve read the novel version’s sequel, Lavondyss, and reread this story that was written and published before I was born, I find it stays clearly in my mind and is a remarkable story.

Like Lavondyss, this is a story concerned with myth and cultural memory. While setting and speculative root remain the same, the theme of the story focuses more on isolation and the fracturing of a family due to obsession. Far from an uplifting tale, “Mythago Wood” still causes contemplation of family, myth, culture and history in a new light. While exploring archetypes, the characters reflect them in their selves. The question must be asked whether we all take on the roles of archetypes, or only characters in fiction and history.

I’m looking forward to reading the remaining books in the Mythago cycle to experience the rest of Holdstock’s exploration in this vein. I highly recommend reading the works by Robert Holdstock if you can find them, especially this gem and Lavondyss.

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