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review SPOILER ALERT! 2020-05-25 23:26
Die Pendragon-Legende (The Legend of Pendragon)
Die Pendragon Legende - Antal Szerb

Whatever I had expected of this book, they did not come true at all because this book turned out to be the most unpredictable read of 2020 so far. 

 

In a way, this book was a bit like going for a walk in the hills and suddenly being slapped across the head by a fish falling from the skies. And in a way, that also describes 2020 so far. So, it's been a timely read.

 

In all seriousness, Antal Szerb was having fun here in this collage of all the genres that I can only describe as a satire of all of the popular fiction that had been written up to the book's date of publication...and somehow preempting Scooby Doo, Indiana Jones, The Da Vinci Code, and I am sure some "rad" 70s fiction that I am glad I have not discovered, yet.

 

We get a scholarly MC, who ends up banding with a motley crew on the way to a Welsh castle, which may or may not be haunted, to visit an aristocrat, who may or may not also be an evil practitioner of the occult ... or a version of Dr. Frankenstein ... one can't be too sure.

We also have weird prophets, superstitious priests, potential human sacrifice, a whole lot of atmospheric fog that appears just at the most thrilling moments. We have Englishmen with upper lips so stiff that it takes a whole lot of questionable femininity to make them wobble, and we have an Earl's daughter, who spoils the usual script of a murder mystery  that ends in falling for the crime-solving hero

, and basically runs off with an Austenite character whom we've never heard off until the last page

(spoiler show)

 

This was a romp. It was fun, but for crying out loud, don't ask me what I've just read.

"I was back in my historic bed (Queen Anne, I believe). With time, this room had come to seem like home. A not entirely restful home. Somewhere above my head the giant axolotls swam. A few yards from my window stood the balcony Maloney had fallen from. And there was the vivid memory of the night rider circling the house with his flaming torch. It was home to me, as a trench would be to a soldier. I pulled my head down under the blanket."

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text 2020-05-25 21:35
Reading progress update: I've read 257 out of 311 pages.
Die Pendragon Legende - Antal Szerb

That's the trouble with prophets: they're so volatile.

“It’s the Pied Piper of Hamlyn and his retinue of children,” Lene suggested.

“No,” exclaimed Osborne. “Look, it’s Pierce Gwyn Mawr, the old prophet Habakkuk. My, he does look in a bad way.”

We quickened our pace to meet him, and now I too could make him out quite clearly. The poor man was even more prophet-like than before. His appearance was exactly what you would have expected of John the Baptist, clad in the traditional attire of one crying out in the wilderness. Except for a rag around his loins he was stark naked—not something you expect to see in broad daylight in these islands. The stout branch in his hand served as a walking stick; the grey shock of his beard and hair flew in every direction.

It was a disturbing, fantastic, strangely threatening sight, complete with the obligatory wisps of straw in the hair that every self-respecting lunatic in Britain has sported since the days of King Lear.

He was followed by a procession of village children. But this was not mockery: they were really frightened, ready to take to their heels at the first hostile gesture from the prophet.

   Osborne called out to him: “Hey there, Pierce Gwyn Mawr. What’s new in the world?”

The prophet gave no reply. Though he looked towards us, I don’t think he saw us. His eyes were flickering and ecstatic; they also seemed, to me, to be filled with a supernatural fear, the universal fear felt by children and madmen of a world possessed by demons.

   I can’t say this for certain of course, being no expert in the reading of eyes.

Then, when Cynthia said something to him in Welsh, he stopped, appeared to recognise her, and a very specific terror seemed to engulf him. But he still made no reply. She repeated her question. He spun round and, with astonishing nimbleness, sprinted towards the village with the children at his heels.

“For Heaven’s sake, Cynthia,” I asked, “what did you say to frighten him so badly?” “Nothing,” she said, clearly shaken. “I only asked if he was hungry.”

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text 2020-05-25 01:04
Reading progress update: I've read 203 out of 311 pages.
Die Pendragon Legende - Antal Szerb

Right. How does Casanova fit into this?

 

This book is bonkers. (In a good way.)

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text 2020-05-25 00:58
Reading progress update: I've read 194 out of 311 pages.
Die Pendragon Legende - Antal Szerb

Ok, this is Scooby Doo re-enacting the Da Vinci Code.

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text 2020-05-24 23:13
Reading progress update: I've read 149 out of 311 pages.
Die Pendragon Legende - Antal Szerb

Well, this has turned into quite an odd story. If there was a dog in the cast of characters, I would describe this a the original Scooby Doo story:

 

We have our MC (Janos Batky), a young Hungarian scholar, and a new acquaintance visiting the Earl of Gwynedd. On the way, they also bump into the Earl's nephew, who is also headed to the ancestral castle in North Wales.

 

Once arrived at the castle, we have the mystery of a masonic cult of immortality (don't ask...), death threats, spooky goings on at the castle after nightfall, crypts, a secret laboratory, and an old woman who provides a prophecy.

 

This is fun. But it also quite odd.

I'm really intrigued as to where this is all going

 

Oh, but one thing is for sure, our MC, Janos, is adorable:

"We had reached the library.

It was an extremely long and narrow room, with countless books lining the walls, the majority in the uniform binding embossed with the Pendragon-Rosicrucian coat of arms.

I was filled with the tenderness I always feel—and which nothing can match—when I encounter so many books together. At moments like these I long to wallow, to bathe in them, to savour their wonderful, dusty, old-book odours, to inhale them through my very pores."

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