Day 745: The Buried Giant

Cover for The Buried GiantI thought from what I read about The Buried Giant that it was a historical novel set in the days after the Romans left Britain. But it is really a fable or a fantasy novel or both.

Axl and his wife Beatrice are an old British couple who decide to go on a journey. They have recently become aware that their memories of the past are poor, as are everyone’s, but they vaguely remember they have a son. Years ago, their son moved to another village, and Beatrice has been wanting to visit him. Finally, they decide to go.

Beatrice has difficulty remembering the way to their first stop, a Saxon village she has visited before, but they find it by evening. The village is disturbed and possibly dangerous for the visiting Britons. A boy was taken by an ogre, but a strange warrior has brought him back. The villagers have seen a bite on the boy and want to kill him. But the warrior saves the boy, named Edwin. Once Axl and Beatrice leave the village the next day, they find themselves traveling with Edwin and the warrior Wistan.

This novel features ogres, pixies, treacherous monks, a British lord on the lookout for the Saxon warrior, an Arthurian knight, and finally a dragon whose breath has made everyone forget the past. It is about reconciliation, memory, aging, and death. As a fable, it doesn’t really characterize its protagonists; they are more like symbols. As such I wasn’t really compelled by the story.

In addition, a history class I have been taking recently indicates that it is unlikely any Britons would have been mixing freely with Saxons at this time. By the time the Anglos and Saxons began settling England in earnest, all the Britons had been pushed off to far western England and Cornwall. Although this novel does not really mention which part of England they are in, I understand that Britons did not tend to mix with the Angles and Saxons.

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9 thoughts on “Day 745: The Buried Giant

  1. Helen July 29, 2015 / 1:27 pm

    I started to read this a few months ago but couldn’t get into it and took it back to the library unfinished. It was disappointing because I loved some of Ishiguro’s other books.

    • whatmeread July 29, 2015 / 1:32 pm

      Yes, I don’t know if I would have finished it if I hadn’t (sadly) purchased it. I was trusting that it would be great because it was Ishiguro.

  2. Naomi July 29, 2015 / 2:57 pm

    I haven’t been able to decide about whether or not to read this book, but I think your review has helped. The fantasy/fable aspect of it doesn’t appeal to me, but some people have said to try it anyway. I’m going to go with my instincts and stick to other books.

    • whatmeread July 29, 2015 / 2:59 pm

      Yeah, I don’t mind fantasy so much, but I generally dislike fables for adults.

  3. ekatemari July 30, 2015 / 4:57 pm

    I also didn’t get on with The Buried Giant… it just seemed like it was trying so hard to be very meaningful that it lost any subtlety, while managing to be boring and kinda stilted. -Princess-.

  4. WordsAndPeace August 4, 2015 / 8:27 am

    I usually like Ishiguro, we’ll see, on my list for this month

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