Sienna's Reviews > Phantastes

Phantastes by George MacDonald
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's review
Oct 30, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: 2011

A lovely philosophical fantasy — one of the earliest I've read — that has aged pretty well. Appropriately, the language strays into overly flowery territory, even for me. In some respects this works, particularly where descriptions of the natural world are concerned, but in others, most noticeably the frequent song-poems, it gets a little grating. Our hero's name, Anodos, derives from the Greek for an ascent or way up, and MacDonald skillfully shows that to ascend does not limit us to uphill climbs, or save us from pitfalls and goblin-infested caverns. As the dreamlike plot relies heavily on notions of chivalry, I couldn't help imagining a gender reversal — and noticing how awkward it would be if a woman behaved as Anodos does toward his marble lady. This is well worth reading, with a beautiful, message-laden-without-being-too-preachy conclusion.

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