Gog-Magog is a modern fantasy steeped in ancient myths of England and Wales.
Gwern is the last born of the Gog clan of the Mharos, the old giants of Albion (England) exiled to the Himalayas. A hunter and bard, he knows nothing of the modern world.
When he and his cousin Barl discover men have breached the Veil that protects their tribe, they are puzzled that tribe elders seem indifferent to the danger.
To save their dying community, they defy orders, travelling to Albion in search of the lost head of Bran the Blessed, who they hope will save them.
Accompanied by a Buddhist hermit, they have to navigate a world they do not understand, while avoiding confrontation with the Jacks (descendants of the Giant slayer) who want to kill them and claim the head for their own.
Though the central quest is the main narrative, the author also weaves through it Gwern’s stories of the myths and histories of his tribe.
Aleban, a descendant of the Titans, meets Albina, a Mycenean princess, banished with her sisters for killing their husbands. Though they have sons, Albina’s punishment means no daughters can be born – until the Elves, Goblinners, Faeries and Wiccans help lift the curse – and so Albion (England) is born.
Brutus, a descendant of Aeneas, arrives in Albion centuries later to discover there is no king. He conspires with Jack to kill Gogmagog, the king of the peaceful Mharos, and so takes over the land.
Bran the Blessed, the true heir of Albion, allies his sister Branwen with the king of Erin, but their brother Efnisien’s jealousy destroys all trust between the two kings and results in the deaths of all of them. We also hear of Arddyr (Arthur) and Merddyn (Merlin), Wayland Smith and many more, each of which has a relevance to Gwern’s quest to save his people.
Glyn Carter’s well-written story is clearly a labour of love. The tales told are clever and the lovely hardback cover and beautiful linocut illustrations by Emily Johns ensure it stands out.
I enjoyed learning about myths I had never heard of, and the theme of nonviolence running throughout. And after all Gwern’s trials and tribulations, the story reaches a satisfying conclusion that stays true to all the characters.
Well worth a read.