Spiced_wine's Reviews > The Hollow Hills

The Hollow Hills by Mary  Stewart
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's review
Apr 08, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: fantasy, favorites

Spiced_wine I read the Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, and The Last Enchantment when I was in my teens, and have read them many times since.

Mary Stewart's writing is so rich, so evocative and so beautiful that I often return to her Merlin trilogy to remind myself how powerful words can be.

In these stories, Stewart takes us back to a little-known time, and we are *there.* We feel that Britain has slipped from the order of Roman rule into a dark period where echoes remain. The land is wild, perilous, the forests deep, the mists curl about the standing stones and (to quote) 'things seen in the water and heard in the wind'.

When this book takes us over the sea to Brittany, there is same sense of a world falling into fragments, of petty kings, of violence.

Stewart excels in evoking the essence of the distant past; the reader knows how one would have felt in those days without aircraft or internet, when the world seemed far larger, full of superstition, danger and uncertainty.

It's always the feel of the misty, beautiful, mysterious north that enthralls me when I pick these books up. Tolkien wove the same spell in The Lord of the Rings.

There is a realism in her writing, too. This has a different 'tone' entirely to any book set in Medieval times, neither is it Roman; it's Romano-Celtic, a brave, struggling hybrid that looks to the past and faces a future that we know from history will change the face of Britain, and the world.

As for Stewart's characters, they are invariably wonderful; every one of them comes vividly alive on the page.

I'm not a great fan of first person perspective, find it lacking in many cases, but there are a few people who are masters, and Mary Stewart is one of them.
If some-one offered to write me a story in the style of any author, I would choose Mary Stewart for the elegance, richness and power of her prose. Having read her at a young age, she influenced me greatly, and this is still the kind of quality I seek out in novels. As I've grown older, and read more books than I can possibly remember, I am more and more humbled by Stewart's skill.

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Elfscribe (new)

Elfscribe I think I read these long ago as a teenager but my only memory is a vague sense that I liked them. Seems like I should try them again.

Spiced_wine Elfscribe wrote: "I think I read these long ago as a teenager but my only memory is a vague sense that I liked them. Seems like I should try them again."

I would have no hesitation in recommending them to any-one who loves beautiful wordsmithing and wonderful characters. The setting feels so real, indeed it is supposed to be real, rather than a fantasy world, but there is still this sense of mist and mystery. I wonder if I remembered this to review it because of your work, since there are a great many similarities.

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