RENARD THE FOX; CURSE OF THE RING DOOM OF THE GODS; ISLAND OF THE MIGHTY by

RENARD THE FOX; CURSE OF THE RING DOOM OF THE GODS; ISLAND OF THE MIGHTY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

These four varyingly successful, oversized volumes are profusely illustrated in color and black and white, have large type and generous margins, and are aimed at the reader looking for myths, legends, and adventure stories. Doom of the Gods concentrates on Loki, ""the trickster, the shape-changer"" of Norse mythology. Foster-brother of Odin, the All-Father, Loki first saves but then betrays Asgard. Loki is the means by which Thor receives his hammer, and it is he who damns Baldur to an eternity in Hel, thus speeding Asgard to its final doom. Harrison writes with lively clarity, making a complex mythology available to readers looking for a good story with no lack of action, horror, or pathos. In the The Curse of the Ring, a retelling of the Volsung Saga, Loki is again a pivotal figure--he captures the dwarf Andvari demanding his gold, including a golden arm ring of twisting snakes. Andvari curses the ring and all who will own it; thus begins the story that will end with the tragic deaths of the hero Sigurd, the Valkyrie Brynhild, and the wronged Gudrun. Harrison makes the complicated, sophisticated story of the doomed lovers accessible and cohesive. While Humphries' illustrations are uneven--there is a delicacy and detail in the black-and-white illustrations that is missing in those in color--they are romantic and dramatic, sure to attract readers. Island of the Mighty is a collection of stories from the Mabinogian and other sources about Britain before the coming of Arthur. The tales of the last giant king, Bran; his sister, Branwen; King Lud; Old King Cole, and the foreshadowing of Arthur are included. This lacks the cohesiveness of the Norse volumes, probably because the scope is too wide for the space allotted. Toorchin's illustrations are serviceable, if predictable. Vacillating between slapstick and religious humor, there are several clever moments in this retelling of Renard the Fox; however, they are overshadowed by problems, including typographical errors and a peculiar section where Renard is pretending to be English and thus unable to speak French: ""No. Me no good speakie you lingo."". . .""Me from England. Me robbed on way, and me all luggage gone and me lost all friend. Me need find someone helpy me."". . .""No, no, nein, nein, non! Please Sir Wolf! No leavy me alone!"" On the whole, Dewars' illustrations are delicate and evocative, reminiscent of Stephen Gammell's, but if you have Joseph Jacobs' or Andre Norton's versions, keep them. The problem with this series is its inconsistency. The risk is that professionals will buy all or none; either of these choices would be unfortunate.

Pub Date: Sept. 17th, 1987
ISBN: 19-274129-2
Page count: 80pp
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press