K.'s Reviews > Huntingtower

Huntingtower by John Buchan
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Jan 01, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: blood-and-morality-tales
Read in January, 2009

** spoiler alert ** See my review to "Prester John" for more detail about the author, John Buchan.

This review will also encompass the entire Dickson McCunn series, "Huntingtower," "Castle Gay," and "The House of the Four Winds."

We've only really begun to scratch the surface of Buchan's writings, but this hero, Dickson McCunn is the most unlikely and the most fun.

The subtitle to this book is "The astonishing adventure of a merchant, a poet and a captive princess."

Dickson McCunn has spent his life as a respectable and successful Glasgow Grocer. The husband and I chuckled at McCunn's description as I read aloud to him "Mr McCunn--I may confess it at the start--was an incurable romantic. He had had a humdrum life since the day when he had first entered his uncle's shop with the hope of someday succeeding that honest grocer; and his feet had never strayed a yard from his sober rut. But his mind, like the Dying Gladiator's, had been far away. As a boy he had voyaged among books, and they had given him a world where he could shape his career according to his whimsical fancy. Not that Mr. McCunn was what is known as a great reader. He read slowly and fastidiously, and sought in literature for one thing alone. Sir Walter Scott has been his first guide, but he read the novels not for their insight into human character or for their historical pageantry, but because they gave him material wherewith to construct fantastic journeys. It was the same with Dickens. A lit tavern, a stage-coach, the clack of hoofs on a frosty road, went to his head like wine..."

Now tell me you don't already like him!

He has recently sold his business for a tidy profit and finds himself with some time of his hands. His wife is off at a spa and he decides to go on a walking tour to "someplace where there were fields and woods and inns, somewhere, too, within call of the sea."

And off he goes and it's a fabulous adventure and I'm not going to ruin it for you. All I'll say is that the cast of characters in this book is one of the most fun I've come across ever, and they are so real. Mr McCunn almost wimps out when the going gets tough, but he doesn't, and it's so great.

So why is this one rated a five and it's 2 successors only 3? Well, part of it is that I felt totally ripped off that the main character was NOT Dickson McCunn. He figures only slightly in the stories, and it's not to their credit. While these two novels were fun stories, they really lacked Buchan's best storytelling style. I never got to really care for the characters or the plot--they just fell flat a bit--perhaps because Buchan was creating something totally fictional instead of treading trusted ground. I wouldn't NOT recommend them, but I probably won't read them again, where I'm sure I will revisit Huntingtower someday.

*Note: In Huntingtower especially there is a lot of broad Scots. Takes some getting used to.
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11/13/2017 marked as: read

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

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message 1: by Jpopinski (new)

Jpopinski Buchan is a great favorite. This review was spot on. I have reread this wonderful story several times and it never fails to please. The Gorbals Diehards are a delight.


message 2: by K. (new) - rated it 5 stars

K. Favorite at our house too! Agreed and agreed!


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