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3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  1,983 ratings  ·  226 reviews
Between the mountains and the sea, between the sea and Fairyland, lay the Free State of Dorimare and its picturesque capital, Lud-in-the-Mist. No Luddite ever had any truck with fairies or Fairyland. Bad business, those fairies. The people of Dorimare had run them out generations ago and the Duke of Dorimare along with them.

Until the spring of his fiftieth year Master Nath
ebook, 288 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by Prologue Books (first published 1926)
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30-odd years before Tolkein published “The Lord of the Rings”, a British woman named Hope Mirrlees wrote a fantasy called “Lud-in-the-Mist”. Neil Gaiman wrote an introduction to the edition I read and I can see that he meant every word. His own “Stardust” draws very heavily on “Lud-in-the-Mist”, especially in setting and tone. Other recent novels that are reminiscent of “Lud-in-the-Mist” are “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell” by Susannah Clarke and “Little, Big” by John Crowley. They all share ...more
Neil Gaiman raved about this book, so I read it. I wish I could have read it without knowing anything about it -- but I still liked it. It was written in the 1920's -- before fantasy tropes were so set in stone -- so it goes in directions you don't expect it to. Also, it's as though the author never heard of the idea that fantasy is a juvenile and disreputable genre, so she takes herself and her book seriously and uses fantasy to explore real and important ideas.
Kate Sherrod
Of course, I come to this novel via Tim Powers, who quoted it quite tantalizingly and memorably in Last Call as one to which Scott Crane and his late wife often referred to in their intimate shorthand with one another. At one point Susan's ghost, or at least the chthonic spirt-of-alcohol that is impersonating Susan refers to "a blackish canary" ("canary" as in the sense of "a shade of yellow" rather than that of the bird of that name) as a way of commenting on Scott's refusal to grasp what is re ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
The people of Lud were...well, "Luddites". This book I read long ago and it is by turns very sad, very funny, and always mind tickling. This is one of those..if you can find it, "must reads" of fantasy. Of course some will disagree with me...but I'd say if you get the chance, read it.
Jenna St Hilaire
This is a tale of the relationship between Fairyland and ordinary life, which puts it at the heart of my favorite storytelling traditions. Born during the late lifetime of fellow countryman George MacDonald (relevant works: Phantastes, Lilith), and just thirteen years younger than G.K. Chesterton (Orthodoxy), Mirrlees seems to write under the guidance of the same muse that led them. It wouldn't surprise me if she were directly influenced by either one or both; nor would it surprise me if, like b ...more
Eric Orchard
Jul 11, 2010 Eric Orchard rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All fans of Faerie fantasies.
Recommended to Eric by: Neil Gaiman ( through blurbs and interviews )
I can't believe it took me so long to read this! It's a classic fantasy novel, totally essential to anyone who loves this type of book. After reading this book, it seems that there's a whole tradition of literature descended directly from this story. Unlike Tolkien ( who I love ) this is a more modern take on folklore and human nature but at the same time it reaches back far into primal things. I can really see where writers like Neil Gaiman and Suzanne Clarke are coming from.
A sweet and simple book that has a lot more to it than meets the eye.

I'm not too high and mighty to admit that I bought this because Neil Gaiman recommended it. He has an undeniably good nose for classics, and his taste is clearly similar to mine, despite all the issues I have with his writing.

Mirrlees writes beautifully, lightly, intelligently, with great vision and simple, evocative prose. She has the subtle skill that I admire so strongly in Diana Wynne Jones of describing a sense, or a thoug
Olga Godim
Dec 04, 2013 Olga Godim added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of good old English
Shelves: did-not-finish
I’ve been thinking: why couldn’t I finish this book, why did I get so bored? Now I know – because I couldn’t care for any of the characters. None was sympathetic. None inspired me to like him or her, even a little bit. In that, this book resembled a satire, but it wasn’t sufficiently funny either. It also read like a huge metaphor, but I didn’t like what I was seeing in it. Too close to home, I suppose.
And it was too slow. I stopped reading on page 85, when still nothing happened, just lots of t
I don't think I'm well-read enough to review this book -- as is the case with many British writers of that period, Mirrlees is far better classically educated than I am, and I'm sure I missed quite a few of her references. However, I now firmly agree with Neil Gaiman that this is "the single most beautiful, solid, unearthly, and unjustifiably forgotten novel of the twentieth century" so I felt I should attempt to review it here in the hopes that I get a few more people to seek it out.

This is mos
A fairy tale for adults. Both serious and light, this is a story that works on more than one level. The surface narrative is an intriguing story and mystery that gradually builds tension and is delivered with a pleasant, leisurely prose style. But also the author is trying to say something about society and the meaning of life.

Stylistically, I found echoes of this in Jack Vance's "Lyonesse" books. Certainly I think if you liked one then you'll like the other. But don't read this if you want more
This book is full of parables that you can feel the essence of, but never quite get with your conscious mind. But same as how in the book it's told that the characters understood certain things not with their mind but somehow differently, you understand it as well, without really understanding it. It's like remembering a dream after waking up - somehow it all makes sense, although nothing really does, and things can't be arranged in order at all, happening simultaneously but at the same time one ...more
One of the most beautiful, true fairy-stories I have ever read. I'd put it on a level with At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald, and more recently, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susannah Clarke.
Edward Butler
A truly unique book, unlike any other fantasy novel I have read. Dreamlike, outlandish yet never self-indulgent or uncontrolled. Not to every taste, to be sure, but an indisputable accomplishment.

I discovered this book on a Flavorwire list that chronicled some under-the-radar fantasy novels. Then I discovered Neal Gaiman's glowing opinion of it, so I decided to check it out.

First of all, it's beautifully written. Mirrlees has a very rich, very English method to her prose. This, coupled with a unabashedly fantastical tale about a quiet town turned upside down by the smuggling of forbidden fairy fruit, makes for a unique literary experience. Lud-in-the-Mist is a town that has been closely
Read this and all my other reviews at Jena's Book Reviews

Lud-in-the-Mist is a sleep little town nestled between two rivers and between the sea and the hills that lead to Fairyland. Not much happens there and that's just the way the residents like it. Master Nathaniel Chanticleer has been there the whole 50yrs of his life as part of a very respectable and long established family and foresees ending his days there and having his son, Ranulph, take over the family home when he dies. But then Ranulp
One of my favorite books. The writing is so masterful - subtle, sly, terrifying, funny, precise. Mirrlees is a prime example of a female genius whose ideas and techniques were appropriated by other (male) writers and overshadowed by the academic "canon."

It's one of those books that literally leaves you open-mouthed by the consistent bad-assedness of its social satire and linguistic invention. One of those books whose enjoyment is only tainted by your realization that the writer had been poorly r
D.M. Dutcher (Sword Cross Rocket)
It's a dreamy book, but it's confused in what it wants to be, and in the nature of fairyland.

Nathaniel Chanticleer is a village mayor in the town of Lud-in-the-mist. Lud is on the border between the real world and the fairy one, but the townspeople have prohibited and stigmatized most dealings with fairies to the point of them being used as curse words. But all isn't that well, as Chanticleer is haunted by the sound of a mystical note, and his children might be eating the fairy fruit...

It's a d
The people of Lud-in-the-Mist enjoy their steady, structured lives, and fear the mystical stories of the mischievous Faeries who live in the West, and especially fear the influence of their magical Fairy Fruit, which can supposedly turn the most able-minded citizen who eats it into a poetic, quixotic, and babbling lunatic. When the Mayor of Lud-in-the-Mist, Master Nathaniel Chanticleer, discovers that his own son has eaten this forbidden fairy fruit, he must unravel the mystery of how this contr ...more
Oct 03, 2013 Puna rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: logophiles, wordsmiths, dreamers of dreams
Hope Mirrlees’ novel, Lud-in-the-Mist, had me waffling on my star rating throughout its entirety, often within the space of just a few paragraphs. The main problem was that as a story categorized to be of the “fantasy” genre, I had a certain amount of preconceived expectations from the plot, none of which were actualized. I’ve also become used to a certain quality of action in fantasy novels which was severely lacking in Mirrlees’ book. It’s not that there wasn’t any action at all, but more so t ...more
Lindsay Stares
*Dear other reviewers: Neil Gaiman is paid to review books/write blurbs, intros, etc. Don't put too much stake in his reported opinion. (Or, I would say, in his opinion, but that's a separate matter.) Stardust is much more based on The King of Elfland's Daughter, which was written two years before Lud-in-the-Mist, and Gaiman ALSO wrote the intro for the new edition of that book, and it is a much better book.*

The synopsis of the premise said that “the law-abiding inhabitants of Lud-in-the-Mist...
Lud-in-the-Mist comes highly recommended, first by the situation of its author (Mirlees was an intimate of Woolf and Eliot, and they both praised some of her work) and second by a number of modern authors who claim that it is a forgotten fantasy masterpiece.

Unfortunately, it is merely okay. I realize that many people think it unfair to judge a book by modern standards, but that's exactly the standard that I have for books I read—and there are any number of truly classic novels that can stand up
Zen Cho
ahhhh this rocked!!! It's funny how this mostly takes place in the Real World (as opposed to Fairyland) and Neil Gaiman's Stardust mostly takes place in Fairyland (not the Real World), and yet there is more magic in a single serif on any letter of any word on any page of Lud-in-the-Mist than there is in the ENTIRE BOOK of Stardust.

I should note that its handling of race is weird -- Tolkien-style "all the non-white people are from somewhere else". Indigo people appear to be the world's analogue f
Ann Klefstad
Gaiman loves it, as well he should-- the currents that run along the bottom of rivers, the slightly malign but amusing liveliness of the dead, the need for ambiguity in border states, all these are attributes of his own fiction. But this one, from 1926, one of the first written texts from that inner country, is different too, maybe because of its loneliness at the time it was written. Its author produced several novels in a few years, and then, with the death of her companion, ceased writing. So ...more
A curious little book, combining Tolkien's bucolic fantasy and the social commentary of Dickens and Austen with gentle humor and a story that takes its time. Still not *quite* sure what happened in the ending, but it wins eternal points from me for possibly the most realistic description of a dream-state I've read. It's a lost fantasy classic (recently reprinted, I hear, but my copy is the rare reprint from the '70s), and worth the read just for its place in history alone.
With Lud-in-the-Mist, I come to the end of reading a short list of classics that came recommended to me through Neil Gaiman. I mean, he didn't recommend them personally; I put this list together based on some blog posts and author's notes and forewords from other Gaiman works. This is also the third book in a row I've read that was originally published in the 1920s or before, which is a feat in and of itself. I figured since I had finished my English degree 20 years ago, I wouldn't put myself th ...more
Lud-in-the-Mist is a book I should have read years ago but was prevented from doing so because I didn't know it existed. This is a Goodreads gem for me and I'm so happy to have found it. So many books I have read are clearly influenced by it, it's making it easier for me to put them in context after having read it. As for the book itself, I mostly loved it. It read like a simple story but after some consideration, it clearly has layers and I'm not sure I 'got' it all. So this here is not so much ...more
I read this in 1970 when it was part of the influx of reprints being reissued.
The tale has many elements as varied as a murder mystery and desiring the forbidden. The setting is a town grown up at the confluence of two rivers but one river flows from the land of Fairy carrying with it contraband. The people are a cross between nineteenth century and older societies but all reflect English society and customs, especially the classes.
Ben De Bono
This is both a great story in its own right and a fascinating example of pre-Tolkien fantasy. 5 stars. Watch my full review here:
Full Review on Tabula Rasa.

Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees is not so much a fantasy, as it is an exploration of slippery truths and the jagged borders of reality, of death, music, and psychedelic dreamery; all packaged as an intriguing murder mystery. The descriptions are vivid, mesmerizing and the frequent pearly drops of wisdom come as a pleasant surprise. The character names are a nightmare, though. While I suppose all fantasy has its cute and quirky nomenclature, especially these small coun
Rick Hautala
I read this ages ago and decided to dive back in because I had good memories of the book ... Boy, was I right! What a terrific fantasy ... Deep, rich, and--yes, filled with delicious ambiguity ... You are doing yourself a disservice if you don't hunt this book down and read it. I would LOVE to do a screenplay of this book.
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Literally Geeky: Lud-in-the-Mist 7 13 May 25, 2014 09:54AM  
  • The King of Elfland's Daughter
  • Sea-Kings of Mars and Otherworldly Stories
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  • The Emperor of Dreams
  • The Well of the Unicorn
  • Three Hearts and Three Lions
  • Viriconium
  • The Mabinogion Tetralogy
  • The Green Pearl and Madouc (Lyonesse, #2-3)
  • The Dragon Waiting
  • Peace
  • Black Gods and Scarlet Dreams
  • A Voyage to Arcturus
  • The Conan Chronicles: Volume 2: The Hour of the Dragon (The Conan Chronicles, #2)
  • Darker Than You Think
  • Little, Big
  • Gloriana
  • The Wood Beyond the World
Hope Mirrlees was a British translator, poet and novelist. She is best known for the 1926 Lud-in-the-Mist, a fantasy novel and influential classic, and for Paris: A Poem, a modernist poem.
More about Hope Mirrlees...
Collected Poems Paris The Counterplot Wind Engineering 1983 3c: Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Wind Engineering, Gold Coast, Australia, March 21-25, and Auckland, New Zealand, April 6-7 1983; Held Under the Auspices of the International Association for Wind Engineering Madeleine: One of Love's Jansenists

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