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Thomas Burnett Swann (1928–1976)

Forfatter af Day of the Minotaur

47+ Works 1,915 Members 31 Reviews 10 Favorited

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Image credit: from Saylor bibliograph


Værker af Thomas Burnett Swann

Day of the Minotaur (1966) 229 eksemplarer
Green phoenix (1972) 154 eksemplarer
The Weirwoods (1965) 134 eksemplarer
Moondust (1968) 130 eksemplarer
Cry Silver Bells (1977) 115 eksemplarer
The gods abide (1976) 104 eksemplarer
Lady of the Bees (1976) 98 eksemplarer
The Forest of Forever (1971) 97 eksemplarer
How Are the Mighty Fallen (1974) 96 eksemplarer
The Not-World (1975) 94 eksemplarer
The Minikins of Yam (1976) 93 eksemplarer
The Tournament of Thorns (1976) 86 eksemplarer
The dolphin and the deep (1968) — Forfatter — 78 eksemplarer
Will-o-the-wisp (1976) 73 eksemplarer
Wolfwinter (1972) 64 eksemplarer
The Goat Without Horns (1971) 51 eksemplarer
Queens walk in the dusk (1977) 38 eksemplarer
The Minotaur Trilogy (1996) 22 eksemplarer
The Manor of Roses [short story] (1976) 12 eksemplarer
The Classical world of H. D (1962) 5 eksemplarer
Will-O-the-Wisp (Part 1 of 2) (1974) 5 eksemplarer
A. A. Milne (1971) 4 eksemplarer
The Night Of The Unicorn (1975) 4 eksemplarer
The Ungirt Runner (1965) 3 eksemplarer
Plus grands sont les héros (2014) 2 eksemplarer
The Dolphin and the Deep [collection] — Forfatter — 2 eksemplarer
Ernest Dowson 1 eksemplar
Les ailes soudaines (2017) 1 eksemplar
Driftwood (2011) 1 eksemplar
The Sudden Wings 1 eksemplar
The Murex 1 eksemplar
The dryad-tree 1 eksemplar
Love is a Dragonfly 1 eksemplar
Trilogie du Latium 1 eksemplar

Associated Works

Unicorns! (1982) — Bidragyder — 223 eksemplarer
Isaac Asimov's Magical Worlds of Fantasy, Volume 12: Faeries (1991) — Bidragyder — 207 eksemplarer
Modern Classics of Fantasy (1939) — Bidragyder — 206 eksemplarer
The Oxford Book of Fantasy Stories (1994) — Bidragyder — 188 eksemplarer
The Year's Best Fantasy Stories: 2 (1976) — Bidragyder — 99 eksemplarer
Flying Saucers (1982) — Bidragyder — 89 eksemplarer
Mammoth Book of Short Fantasy Novels (1986) — Bidragyder, nogle udgaver77 eksemplarer
Nameless Places (1975) — Bidragyder — 47 eksemplarer
Baker's Dozen: 13 Short Fantasy Novels (1984) — Bidragyder — 39 eksemplarer
Le livre d'or de la Science-Fiction : Le manoir des roses (1978) — Bidragyder — 20 eksemplarer
The Wildside Book of Fantasy: 20 Great Tales of Fantasy (2012) — Bidragyder — 16 eksemplarer
Ashtaru der Schreckliche. (1982) — Bidragyder, nogle udgaver9 eksemplarer
Beyond the Fields We Know (1978) — Bidragyder — 4 eksemplarer

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Winter Park, Florida
Tampa, Florida, USA
Winter Haven, Florida, USA
fantasy writer



This is unusual among this author's books in being one of the few not set in the classical world of Greece/Rome etc, although I have previously read a couple set in the middle ages. The setting, of a pre-English Civil War Devonshire countryside and Dartmoor, was promising and set up a clash between the puritan population and the more earthy countrypeople who hark back to the reign of Good Queen Bess/Elizabeth I with its pleasure loving delights. As anticipated, given the author's usual views, he is firmly on the side of the latter and against the puritan viewpoint.

Added to the mix were Gubbings, people dwelling on the moors and luring people to their deaths, a community who, it turns out, are in reality not only extreme Puritans but the descendants of a race once winged who lost their power of flight through a disease and now have only vestigial wings and plumage that they must conceal lest they be thought witches. The Gubbings now condemn any enjoyment in life, with the exception of a woman called Stella who once left to live in Exeter, married a sailor called Philip and had a daughter Aster, now nine years old. A few years ago Philip died of the plague and so Stella and her daughter returned to the Gubbing community on Dartmoor where she survives precariously, being too "Elizabethan", liking beautiful objects, such as her musical instrument, a predecessor of the clavicord, and pewter plates.

The Gubbings have infiltrated the church community of the nearby village and view the poetry-writing vicar Robert, known as Robin, with suspicion as he is also too "Elizabethan" for their tastes. Meanwhile, the local apothecary, tells his son Nicholas to gain the vicar's confidence and spy on him with the intention of finding evidence of wrongdoing. Nicholas, who has had to return from university in Cambridge due to a broken leg, likes Robin who becomes like an older brother to him. The Gubbings then force matters to a head by luring the two men into their clutches.

This had the potential to be an interesting and pleasant read, but some of the character development is entirely too amorphous and really doesn't go anywhere, for example, the conflicted character of Judith, Stella's childhood friend who is now jealous of her and leads the prosecution against Robin and ultimately Stella. The biggest problem however were the repeated references on almost every page to the burning of witches - which is instrumental in the climax. Although the author's afterword credits some written sources for his 17th century background, and also explains that his vicar character and Stella are based on real life people of the era, he shares a common misconception that execution of witches in England was by burning - a method used in Scotland and on the continent - when in reality it was always by hanging. This was a nasty enough means of execution since it predated the scientific reforms of the Victorians, and so the victims died by slow strangulation.

I also found the kangeroo court that Nicholas' father organises at the end very unconvincing - the actual legal procedure was arbitrary enough that it wasn't necessary for him to suddenly appoint himself as a magistrate. It also had the effect of undermining the role of Judith especially as it transpires that Nicholas is adopted and his parents are also Gubbings as are other people in the vilage. It would have made more sense if they were not Gubbings, but instead were human - as it is, it begs the question of why the Gubbings in the village are pursuing their own vendetta against Robin instead of teaming up with their colleagues on Dartmoor.

The end could have been more convincing if the villagers had instead decided to "swim" the witches instead of burning them (especially in view of their intention to drown Aster in any case) as this was a common test to see if the victim was innocent or not. Such swimmings were often done spontaneously by a community without resorting to the law. As it was, I found it so annoying to read on just about every page references to witch burning that I can only award this 3 stars.

(I would also add that the cover of this edition is totally unrelated to the novel - no giant insects or scantily clad women appear in the book although there are some references to bosoms etc!)
… (mere)
kitsune_reader | Nov 23, 2023 |
When I started to read this I had a sense of deja vu from the short prologue so looked it up and realised that part of this volume appeared in a novella form under a different name and was collected in 'The Dolphin and the Deep' by this author, which I have already read.

The book is divided into two main parts. The first I had not read before and that concerned the adventures of two young boys, one a son of the Norman overlords, one a young Saxon from the now oppressed conquered people, and a Saxon girl. They eventually go on a quest to find unicorns. That part is quite sweet, though as with Swann's other stories there is an obsession with sex and the negative aspects of repressing it, as he sees it. There is a hinted at attraction between the younger (Norman) boy and the older, but the older, who is working his way through all the other Saxon maids in the village, never sees it. Meanwhile, they have to rely on his female friend being a virgin, in order to attract the unicorns. The other supernatural aspect of the story is that there are human sized mandrakes, the plants which had legendary powers, and these creatures are hostile and send their girl babies into villages to pass as human - couples adopt them thinking they are changelings the fairies sent and they mustn't offend the fairies.

The second part is the one already read in 'The Dolphin and the Deep'. The two boys (the girl in story one has now died of plague) go on the run for various reasons, hoping to join a crusade. They meet a young girl who they at first take for an angel and have a dangerous encounter with mandrakes. After that, they come to the manor house of the woman whose viewpoint was shown in the prologue. Her own son was murdered when he tried to join a crusade so she tries to prevent them from leaving.

I found this a rather odd story because certain aspects didn't add up such as, if the woman really was a grown up mandrake baby who had managed to pass how had she succeeded in having a human child and why hadn't she drained her servants of blood long before now?. I didn't find any of the characters particularly believable. So all in all I can only award this an OK 2 stars.
… (mere)
kitsune_reader | Nov 23, 2023 |
I believe this is a late novel, if not the last published, from this author. In this, the world of pagan creatures which populated the land and seas is being driven into extinction or hiding. The author is firmly on the side of the pagans: Christianity is on the ascendant with its sexual prudery and attendant hypocrisy.

The story follows two male characters. One, Dylan, has been living on the coast of Caledonia for some years although he has amnesia and cannot recall his family. He is a boy of about sixteen years and also a Roane - I am not sure if these are actually taken from mythology but he has gills and can breathe underwater it seems, although he uses a sealskin for streamlining in the sea. (Towards the end of the story we discover that the seals bring the skins of naturally deceased seals for Roanes to use; Roanes do not hunt them.) His companion is a friendly giant - ant it seems, at least that is how it is shown in the line drawings which accompany the text - called Angus. Their life is shattered when a boat arrives, crewed not by the friendly Romans who had previously visited and taught Dylan Latin, but slave traders. Dylan is sold to be a galley slave and Angus ends up as a performing animal somewhere but makes his way back to Dylan eventually.

The other male character is Nod, seemingly a corn sprite, adopted by a sympathetic woman and her curmugeonly husband. As the story develops we discover a much darker side to the husband who on the surface is a pious Christian. Things change when two women, Stella and Tutelina, arrive at the city who are, to Christian eyes, prostitutes, but just might be sprites of some kind or perhaps more. Nod is invited to a fertility festival in the fields outside the city by the two women and, keen to lose his virginity, tries to find some wine in his father's cellar to take along, but encounters a demonic creature. Escaping he meets Dylan, and they start to form a friendship which becomes firm throughout the story.

The story is about the clash of the two cultures, but is also rather 'dodgy' to modern sensibilities, especially a scene where the heroes escape from Tritons by offering them sex voluntarily rather than the worse alternative that would involve murder as well. By the end of the story, not only is Dylan's amnesia resolved, but the identities of certain other characters are made known.

I liked the more complex character of Dylan in this, which was a change from the often one dimensional protagonists of the author's other books. On the whole, I am awarding this 3 stars.

… (mere)
kitsune_reader | Nov 23, 2023 |
Having rated the previous books by this author at 2 or 3 stars I turned to this last one in my collection not expecting much, so it was a pleasant surprise to find that it is much better. Set in the time of classical Greece, but with mythological beings and gods a reality, as is a lot of the author's fiction, it tells the story of Erinna, a friend of the famous Sappho of Lesbos. Erinna is flat chested and has no illusions about her attractiveness, but one night when she attends a festival where it is usual for people to pair off, she meets a satyr Sappho had previously told her about, and finds a brief love for one night. Very soon after, she is married off to a cousin of her father, and has to move far from her island home, to a place where women have far more restricted lives. When her rather snooty and luxury loving husband discovers she is pregnant, he warns her that if the child is either an ugly boy or a girl - unless showing signs of being attractive when grown, and marriageable - it will be exposed outside the city.

When Erinna's boy is born he is almost perfect but has two little horns on his head, which her husband unfortunately discovers under his curls, and Erinna is tricked into handing the baby over to a slave. Almost too late she discovers he has been left outside the city where some large white wolves come to devour the abandoned babies. She has to fight one of them to rescue him, and he suffers an ankle wound. She flees, trying to take him to the forest where other fauns and satyrs are said to live, but with no food and a journey of days, collapses along the way. A man called Tares, a trader with a mule-drawn wagon, finds her and helps her, but when they reach the forest the baby is taken by a young faun who wants to raise him as a younger brother. The story of how Erinna is reunited with her son and finds fulfilment with the forest folk, with the twist of who are the goodies and villains, then ensues.

I found this story much better than previous ones by the author. It is told from the point of view of an unassuming young woman who has been raised more like a boy, her mother having died some years before, and who therefore can run, use a bow and generally rough it in the woods. Despite her initial lack of confidence with men - she makes it clear that she isn't attracted to same-sex partners unlike Sappho - she is a late bloomer and eventually becomes rather a magnet for various male characters.

Unlike some of the author's fiction, the sexual elements are an integral part of the story, companionship and friendship are just as important, and the characters are more fully developed than in other of his novels. There are some touching scenes which derive from the comparatively short lives of the fauns. As a side note, I found it quite amusing that, despite Erinna's references in the novel to being quite flat chested, the cover, although quite well painted, shows her as very well endowed in that department.

All in all, I enjoyed this book, and unlike the rest of his novels it is a keeper, so I am pleased to award it a full five stars.
… (mere)
kitsune_reader | Nov 23, 2023 |



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