Gabriel Clarke's Reviews > The Corn King and the Spring Queen

The Corn King and the Spring Queen by Naomi Mitchison
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bookshelves: to-read-in-2014
Read 2 times. Last read July 14, 2016 to November 8, 2016.

In Marob, which the Greeks called Scythia, the Corn Queen’s father intrigues for power against the Corn King. There is bloodshed, politics and divinity, and both King and Queen, broken in their own ways but ultimately seeking to be mended, set out on long journeys of discovery. In Sparta, another kind of journey is happening - a revolution and a return to older, more egalitarian ways. The collision between the lived myth of Marob and the bright realism of Stoic-influenced Sparta, the nature of magic and divinity, the fluidity and cruelty of the ancient world - all of this forms the subject of this genuinely epic, complex novel and is brilliantly brought to life. Dense, complex, tragic, heartbreaking and exhilerating…one of the best historical novels I’ve ever read and an utterly convincing evocation of the closeness and the strangeness of those other humans of the ancient world.
Naomi Mitchison wrote this in the 1930s and is clearly indebted to the mythologists Jane Harrison and Sir James George Frazer. But there’s an ambiguity and a psychological reality to the different worlds the characters move through - both the materialistic straight edge of King Kleomenes of Sparta and the Stoic Sphaeros and the lived magical/mythical experience of Erif Der and her sister witches and people of Marob - that is wholly modern. Highly recommended.

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Reading Progress

Finished Reading (Other Paperback Edition)
January 6, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read-in-2014
January 6, 2014 – Shelved
January 6, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
July 14, 2016 – Started Reading
November 8, 2016 – Shelved (Other Paperback Edition)
November 8, 2016 – Shelved as: read-in-2016 (Other Paperback Edition)
November 8, 2016 – Finished Reading

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