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Magical Ballads and Fantasy Fiction

Related thread:
'Musical' Novels (112)


Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 16 Sep 09 - 11:57 AM
Desert Dancer 16 Sep 09 - 12:14 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 16 Sep 09 - 12:30 PM
Jack Campin 16 Sep 09 - 12:31 PM
ranger1 16 Sep 09 - 12:37 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 16 Sep 09 - 01:17 PM
michaelr 16 Sep 09 - 06:24 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 18 Sep 09 - 10:29 AM
Rapunzel 19 Sep 09 - 05:13 PM
GUEST,Edthefolkie 19 Sep 09 - 06:44 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 20 Sep 09 - 04:31 AM
Sandra in Sydney 20 Sep 09 - 08:14 AM
GUEST,Gail de Vos 20 Sep 09 - 10:51 AM
Joe_F 20 Sep 09 - 11:44 AM
Mr Fox 20 Sep 09 - 01:27 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 20 Sep 09 - 01:38 PM
GUEST,Edthefolkie 21 Sep 09 - 08:42 AM
Phil Edwards 21 Sep 09 - 10:15 AM
Valmai Goodyear 21 Sep 09 - 01:13 PM
BobKnight 21 Sep 09 - 02:43 PM
BobKnight 21 Sep 09 - 02:43 PM
Desert Dancer 21 Sep 09 - 03:43 PM
Mr Fox 21 Sep 09 - 03:49 PM
Richard Mellish 21 Sep 09 - 06:03 PM
BobKnight 21 Sep 09 - 08:35 PM
A Wandering Minstrel 22 Sep 09 - 08:02 AM
GUEST,KP 22 Sep 09 - 11:32 AM
longboat (inactive) 22 Sep 09 - 11:38 AM
GUEST,Gail de Vos 22 Sep 09 - 07:40 PM
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Subject: Magical Ballads and Fantasy Fiction
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 11:57 AM

All of a sudden it's become Autumn - as it always seems to - and so my hibernatory instincts are quite naturally calling upon me to curl up on the sofa with a good storybook, preferably something completely escapist and regressive. Something even, that demands rain and rattling window panes!

It's been a while since I read any fantasy, and since recently reading the Lancashire Witches inspired 'Mist over Pendle', I've a yen for something with cunning folk and faeries and other queer folkloric entities.

Whilst browsing material on ballads with a supernatural theme, I happened upon a wee essay which discusses briefly some works of fiction, which draw upon magical ballads for their inspiration. Cut and Paste of a few excerpts from The Music of Faery here:

"Some years ago I traveled the Border Country along with fantasy author Jane Yolen, who has used ballad themes to great effect in several of her books. ("Tam Lin" in the picture book of the same name, "Kemp Owyn" in the picture book Dove Isabeau; "The Grey Selchie" in the collection Neptune Rising. In Sister Light, Sister Dark, Yolen creates her own ballads, which read nonetheless like songs handed down through many, many years.) [...] "Tam Lin" has captured the imagination of more fantasy authors and artists than any other single ballad, [...]
Patricia A. McKillip's novel Winter Rose is a gorgeous, poetic work of mythic fiction weaving "Tam Lin" and a second faery ballad, "Thomas the Rhymer," into a wintry romance set in a land reminiscent of medieval England. Pamela Dean's fine novel Tam Lin (Book #5 in the "Adult Fairy Tales" series) uses the ballad as the basis of a contemporary coming-of-age tale set among the theater students at a midwestern college campus. Elizabeth Marie Pope's retelling of the ballad, titled The Perilous Gard, is set in the courts of Elizabethan Scotland. The book is written for Young Adult readers, but is highly recommended for adults as well. Alan Garner's Red Shift is an unusual, subtle, powerful reworking of the ballad's themes. Dahlov Ipcar uses the ballad in her short novel A Dark Horn Blowing, while Joan Vinge retells it in short story form in "Tam Lin" (published in Imaginary Lands, edited by Robin McKinley). Diana Wynne Jones, like Patricia McKillip, combines the tale with "Thomas the Rhymer" in her novel Fire and Hemlock -- but this wonderful, highly original tale is set in modern England. [...]
Delia Sherman's excellent first novel, Through a Brazen Mirror, is also based on this evocative song. "I heard Martin Carthy's version of 'Famous Flower'," Delia told me, "and it haunted me with questions. [...]
I asked Delia if she had a theory about why certain writers found ballad material so compelling, returning to it again and again. "What I like best about ballads," she said, "is that they're plots with all the motivations left out. Why did Young Randall's stepmother want to poison him? Why choose eels? Why did Randall eat them (especially if they were green and yellow)? There's a novel there, or at least a short story."

And on it goes...

Just wondering what fantastical folkloric fictional Autumnal delights others would recommend - specifically ballad inspired or otherwise. And what they think in general of such modern literary borrowings from traditional magical ballads?


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Subject: RE: Magical Ballads and Fantasy Fiction
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 12:14 PM

Thanks for those recommendations. There have been some previous mentions, if not discussions, of the topic -- although I'm having trouble finding the thread I'm thinking of. Here's one:

adaptations of Tam Lin

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Magical Ballads and Fantasy Fiction
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 12:30 PM

I'm afraid my cut & paste job of bits of that 'The Music of Faery' article is rather clumsy. The online article (linked to above) also has added bonus of providing uber helpful Amazon links!


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Subject: RE: Magical Ballads and Fantasy Fiction
From: Jack Campin
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 12:31 PM

None of these is fantasy in the usual sense but anyway...

Andrew Greig, When They Lay Bare, a novel built around "The Twa Corbies".

Ian F. Benzie, The Year's Midnight, using the story of the execution of Macpherson.

Flann O'Brien, At Swim-Two-Birds, using the mediaeval Irish mostly-prose story of Mad King Sweeney.

Somebody or other recycling the Odyssey and setting it in early 20th century Dublin.


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Subject: RE: Magical Ballads and Fantasy Fiction
From: ranger1
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 12:37 PM

I recommend Charles de Lint's books. None of them are based on any particular ballads (that I know), but music does play a large part in the themes. Which makes sense, as he's a folkie himself.


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Subject: RE: Magical Ballads and Fantasy Fiction
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 01:17 PM

You might like to try Jack Vance's 'Lyonesse' trilogy which is set on the Elder Isles - lands now lost beneath the waves of the Atlantic.

No ballads, but princes, princesses, magicians, knights, warring kings, pirates, giants, ogres and fairies galore. I have been reading Vance for most of my life and he is like no other writer I know of - my favest rave of all time. The atmosphere that he creates with his characteristic prose style is unique. If you haven't read him yet I envy you!

The three books are: Lyonesse: Suldrun's Garden, Lyonesse: The Green Pearl and Lyonesse: Madouc.


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Subject: RE: Magical Ballads and Fantasy Fiction
From: michaelr
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 06:24 PM

I highly recommend Tad Williams' Shadowmarch.


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Subject: RE: Magical Ballads and Fantasy Fiction
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 10:29 AM

Refreshing this, in case anyone has any further thoughts.
'Fire and Hemlock' is currently sitting in my Amazon basket waiting for a few other additions...
Never read Jack Vance Shimrod, I'll look those up.


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Subject: RE: Magical Ballads and Fantasy Fiction
From: Rapunzel
Date: 19 Sep 09 - 05:13 PM

I have read Fire & Hemlock almost annually for the last 20 years (nearly time to start again). If you haven't read it before, I hope you will love it. You might regret that you didn't have it through your teenage years. Absolutely essential.


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Subject: RE: Magical Ballads and Fantasy Fiction
From: GUEST,Edthefolkie
Date: 19 Sep 09 - 06:44 PM

I believe "Pavane" by Keith Roberts has the the first verse of the Lyke Wake Dirge as an introduction...

This ae neet, this ae neet
Any neet and all
Fire and fleet and candle leet
And Christ receive thy soul

It's a magnificent book - alternate history in spades. Roberts was a bit of a b*gger but couldn't half write, especially in his early stuff. Somebody called him the Kipling of science fiction.

A lot of Roberts' stories and novels went out of print after his death but quite a few, such as "The Inner Wheel" are available from print on demand specialists - check Amazon or Google.


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Subject: RE: Magical Ballads and Fantasy Fiction
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 20 Sep 09 - 04:31 AM

Just purchased an anthology, edited by George R.R.Martin and Gardner Dozois, called 'Songs of the Dying Earth' (Harper, 2009) a sort of tribute volume to Jack Vance by 23 of the greatest names in modern SF and Fantasy (it's not just me that thinks he's the 'bee's knees'!).

All the stories in the book are set in Vance's 'Dying Earth' milieu. The relevant volumes from the master, which you also might enjoy, are:

'The Dying Earth', 'The Eyes of the Overworld', 'Cugel's Saga' and 'Rhialto the Marvellous'; I think that these may have been combined in an omnibus volume recently.


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Subject: RE: Magical Ballads and Fantasy Fiction
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 20 Sep 09 - 08:14 AM

wikipedia article on Christopher Stasheff

"Warlock and Son" has several chapters in which the happenings reference folk songs.


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Subject: RE: Magical Ballads and Fantasy Fiction
From: GUEST,Gail de Vos
Date: 20 Sep 09 - 10:51 AM

You may be interested in my new book -- Stories from Songs-- which discusses various ballads and their reworkings in popular culture -- novels, short stories, graphic novels, film. It is the third in a series exploring folklore in contemporary clothing. The other two look at folktales and the ballads of Tam Lin and Thomas the Rhymer.

Yours in stories,
Gail de Vos


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Subject: RE: Magical Ballads and Fantasy Fiction
From: Joe_F
Date: 20 Sep 09 - 11:44 AM

Some of the stuff the filk community has come up with might interest you.


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Subject: RE: Magical Ballads and Fantasy Fiction
From: Mr Fox
Date: 20 Sep 09 - 01:27 PM

I believe "Pavane" by Keith Roberts has the the first verse of the Lyke Wake Dirge as an introduction...

This ae neet, this ae neet
Any neet and all
Fire and fleet and candle leet
And Christ receive thy soul


It does, Ed. And his later story cycle 'The Chalk Giants' has the medieval lyric:

    Fowles in the frith,
    The fisshes in the flood,
    And I mon waxe wood
    Much sorwe I walke with
    For beste of boon and blood.

He also refers to the lines "I leaned my back against an oak, thinking it was a trustie tree" in one of his short stories. Nice to see somebody else has read Keith Roberts - I was beginning to think I was the only one!

Much further down the scale is a short story by Gregory Frost called 'The Vow That Binds' which is about a strange fellow named Lant who can talk to animals - until he falls in love. Then, the only beast that will talk to him is Raven, the trickster. The raven offers to predict Lant's future. Fans of Fairport Convention can probably guess what happens next.....


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Subject: RE: Magical Ballads and Fantasy Fiction
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 20 Sep 09 - 01:38 PM

Hey Rapunzel - I thought I recalled that 'Fire & Hemlock' had been mentioned on this board at some time.

Gail de Vos - what an interesting project! I looked it up, but didn't find it listed - looks like you've also been quite prolific in writing on associated areas.

I've also added Winter Rose to my Amazon basket..


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Subject: RE: Magical Ballads and Fantasy Fiction
From: GUEST,Edthefolkie
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 08:42 AM

Mr Fox, don't worry, there are a lot of Keith Roberts fans about.

Hopefully still including a former girlfriend to whom I lent "Pavane" in 1972. "What's up with you?" I said when she looked a bit shattered. "It's your fault, I spent all last night reading that bloody book!"


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Subject: RE: Magical Ballads and Fantasy Fiction
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 10:15 AM

Alan Garner's Red Shift is an unusual, subtle, powerful reworking of the ballad's themes.

Blimey. I thought it was about me...

Obligatory tangent: James Yorkston, "Would you have me born with wooden eyes?"


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Subject: RE: Magical Ballads and Fantasy Fiction
From: Valmai Goodyear
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 01:13 PM

Terry Pratchett's 'Lords and Ladies' incorporates a lot of plot from Tam Lin and A Midsummer Night's Dream, with three witches and the Lancre Morris Men (signature tune 'Mrs. Widgery's Lodger') thrown in for good measure.

Valmai (Lewes)


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Subject: RE: Magical Ballads and Fantasy Fiction
From: BobKnight
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 02:43 PM

Supernatural ballad? See/hear my song "Walker Dam.

"http://myspace.com/bobknightfolk


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Subject: RE: Magical Ballads and Fantasy Fiction
From: BobKnight
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 02:43 PM

Waaaaah!! The blue clicky didnae work!!


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Subject: RE: Magical Ballads and Fantasy Fiction
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 03:43 PM

http://myspace.com/bobknightfolk

(somehow the space between the "a" and the "href" got lost. That's what the "Preview" option is good for... ;-)


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Subject: RE: Magical Ballads and Fantasy Fiction
From: Mr Fox
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 03:49 PM

[i]Terry Pratchett's 'Lords and Ladies' incorporates a lot of plot from Tam Lin and A Midsummer Night's Dream, with three witches and the Lancre Morris Men (signature tune 'Mrs. Widgery's Lodger') thrown in for good measure.[/i]

Tons of references to 70's folk-rock as well, especially Steeleye (Thomas the Rhymer) and Fairport (Tam Lin, natch).


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Subject: RE: Magical Ballads and Fantasy Fiction
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 06:03 PM

Another retelling of Thomas Rymer is Ellen Kushner's "Thomas the Rhymer". And she managed to work The Famous Flower of Serving Men into the story as well.

Richard


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Subject: RE: Magical Ballads and Fantasy Fiction
From: BobKnight
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 08:35 PM

Thank you Desert Dancer for pulling my blue clicky out of the fire. :)


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Subject: RE: Magical Ballads and Fantasy Fiction
From: A Wandering Minstrel
Date: 22 Sep 09 - 08:02 AM

Can heartily recommend Charles Vess's Book of Ballads and second the Charles deLint recommendation, especially The Little Country


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Subject: RE: Magical Ballads and Fantasy Fiction
From: GUEST,KP
Date: 22 Sep 09 - 11:32 AM

For a collision between fantasy and folk song, some of you might enjoy this:

I don't believe in ghosts

best read at Halloween, but that's not far away now...
KP


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Subject: RE: Magical Ballads and Fantasy Fiction
From: longboat (inactive)
Date: 22 Sep 09 - 11:38 AM

Richard Mellish. I believe Ellen Kushner thanks Martin Carthy in the book's aknowledgements and thanks, it's his version (the most complete version known) that Kushner uses.


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Subject: RE: Magical Ballads and Fantasy Fiction
From: GUEST,Gail de Vos
Date: 22 Sep 09 - 07:40 PM

Stories from Songs: Ballads as Literary Fictions for Young Adults is published by Libraries Unlimited and available on Amazon as well as other online book sellers. It should also be at a public library near you (she says hopefully).
Gail


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