Boneland (Tales of Alderley, #3) Boneland question

What is it all about?
Janette Janette Aug 29, 2012 04:46AM
Alan Garner
I read The Weirdstone of Brisingamen when I was nine and was totally captured by it. It was and still is my favourite book. The Moon of Gomrath in some ways disappointed me because it did not have more of Cadellin and the dwarves that I had loved in the first book and it was a more demanding read that I did not fully understand as a child. Boneland I therefore eagerly waited for full of excitement and anticipation wondering what would happen next. It has left me perplexed and full of questions. I did enjoy it, the language and the mix of reality and myth and the insight into Colin's mental state was wonderfully explored but it has left me needing to discuss this book with someone else who has shared these books too. What does happen in this book? What has happened to Colin and to Susan? Who were Meg and Bert? What has Colin become at the end? What does it all mean?
What do others think? I think this is a book that needs to be discussed and ideas explored so let 's get the discussion going. What do you think?

I am glad that this is still a growing post. I love Alan Garner his writing intrigues and challenges me. I haven't re read Boneland yet but need to and will do on my next holiday.
I have read Weirdstone so many times it is very close to my heart . It was the book that changed me into a reader as a child and I have enjoyed introducing it to lots of children since.

The one of aspect and aim of Boneland, i believe, is to show the terrible changing in our viewing the world. Where is reality and where is self evidents, and how it is changing with ours growing up.

Duncan (last edited Aug 12, 2015 04:06PM ) Aug 12, 2015 04:05PM   0 votes
I'm late to the party with this, but I'd love to know if any of you actually did go back and re-read Boneland, and if so what do you now think? I've just finished reading it for the first time and can't begin to describe how I'm feeling. It's an astonishing work - but I don't know why. It's an incredible story - but again I don't know why.

Having read the comments above I am also of the opinion that Meg is a representation of the triple moon goddess, of which Susan is another aspect. I'm really intrigued by the idea that the whole thing is a dream. Alan Garner is so careful with language and there's no doubt that he deliberately used the same opening and closing lines. But why? What's he trying to say?

This novel also has me questioning the relationship between Colin and Cadellin throughout the whole trilogy. Even though I've read all three books this week I now feel the need to go back and read all of them again in the light of Boneland.

I think this is a book that I'll be revisiting time and again over the years in order to try and better understand what's going on. It's certainly not the sort of novel that can be understood on the first or even second reading. The layers here are astonishing.

So, if anyone feels like talking a bit more about this exceptional and challenging novel please let me know.

Meg (who's loving and protective in her relations with Colin) seems to be the mother aspect of the triple Moon goddess, along with Susan (the maiden) and the Morrigan (the crone -- note that the Celtic Morrigan was sometimes depicted as a trinity). The Moon of Gomrath was already hinting at this kind of relationship in the bracelets worn by Angharad Goldenhand, Susan and the Morrigan. This might mean that Meg is Angharad -- but on the other hand Colin's view that Susan has ridden away to the mythical (not the astronomical) Pleiades would seem to be correct, so she and the illusory Susan may be his personal construction of the goddess trinity rather than an external truth.

That said, Meg clearly had some verifiable objective reality, as Colin's doctor knew her. Bert was, I think, just a bloke who she had pressed into her service while she needed him -- Colin meets him in his everyday life at the end.

Though there was obviously a pragmatic reason for it too, Cadellin presumably intended Colin's amnesia less as a punishment than a release from his grief at the loss of his sister and of the magical world. I agree that Colin is taking on aspects of his role as well as the Watcher's at the end, and I wonder whether the Homo sapiens shaman whom the Watcher meets is meant to be Cadellin himself.

It's a very complex novel, packing a great deal into its short length.

Eustace (last edited Aug 30, 2012 08:08AM ) Aug 30, 2012 07:59AM   0 votes
I read it two days ago and then went back to the beginning and started again. I loved it. I can't look at it as a stand alone work, but I can't look at any of Alan Garner's novels as stand alone works as they are all intrinsically linked in my mind.

These are just some of my first impressions. Susan has passed over with Celemon. Colin has survivors guilt and cannot process the forces that entered his life circa the Weirdstone/Gomrath. Cadellin is responsible for the amnesia. I find myself questioning the shared role/destiny of Colin/Cadellin/the Watcher. Colin living in the old quarry, with his cellar set into rock behind iron gates and the Watcher crawling from his spirit cave and approaching the hill of life and death. There is a lot of ambiguity around the Morrigan/Meg/Susan. Also when the Watcher finds the woman she is with two other women (one of whom is breast feeding a child) who he sees as all having the same face, which calls to mind the threefold Goddess. There is a dialogue with Meg where she mentions that things come in trinities.

I'm just rattling this off. There is so much more that but these are the themes that I think immediately relate to the prior 2 books in the sequence. I found Boneland so incredibley potent.

I think it's possible the whole thing takes place in a dream - compare the very first and very last words of the book. In the hospital, perhaps?

Someone suggested reading all three books in order, which sounds sensible. The poor reader needs all the help she can get with this one.
I posted a review on the Book View Cafe blog, here:

Interesting thoughts. I plan to read it again over Christmas and consider your ideas

back to top

all discussions on this book | post a new topic

Books mentioned in this topic

Boneland (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

Alan Garner (other topics)