My second read of the new year is The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguru. One of my favourite books is The Remains of the Day by the same author but this is a completely different book.
- I had not expected fantasy, England shortly after the time of King Arthur, dragons, ogres, a mist that makes a people forget their past. Fantasy is not usually my favourite genre but in this novel the touching love story and the question of whether it is better to forget the past work well in the fantastical setting.
- To summarize, Axl and Beatrice are an elderly Briton couple who leave on a journey to find their son who they vaguely remember. On the way, they become involved in a plan to slay a dragon, meeting one of King Arthur’s aged knights, and a Saxon warrior and his young friend. They hope that when the dragon dies, their memories will return.
- The love between Axl and Beatrice is a main element of the story, and how that love will be affected by the memories, good and bad, when these memories are restored to them. On a broader level, it makes us wonder what will become of the peace between the Britons and Saxons when memories of atrocities carried out by the Britons are as well stored.
- The novel has sword fights, fights with ogres and a monster in an underground passage, yet these incidents are presented not in a swashbuckling way but in a misty, shadowy way. In fact looking back at it, the whole book seemed as shadowy and dreamlike as the people’s memories.
- I found this to be a beautiful, at times melancholy book. It is sad to think that one would forget the past, the time spent with one’s children, the beautiful moments. It may be good to forget the bad times but is it worth it to also forget the good? Do we really know who we are without memories? Axl didn’t.
- The book also looks at death and parting and the ending is rather confusing. But perhaps we can put our own interpretation on it. This is a book that I will remember for some time to come.