What’s New for the 15th of March: It’s Almost Spring!

We can never be gods, after all — but we can become something less than human with frightening ease. ― N.K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms


I’ve been reading Haunted England which is the work of Jennifer Westwood who correctly notes in another book of hers titled Albion that ‘legend-making is not something that took place in the dim and distant past but a continuing process.’  We’ve reviewed more books than I care to count where contemporary authors such as Jane Yolen (The Wild Hunt), Pamela Dean (Tam Lin), Charles de Lint (The Cats of Tanglewood Forest) and Terri Windling (The Wood Wife) use folkloric stories and give a fresh feel to them.

We all tell stories as it’s an intrinsic aspect of our humanity. How we retell a story is already shaped by our minds, say that cup of Mexican cocoa your housemate made for you when you came in on a cold, haily evening, or that new novel sought out in hard cover because that’s what you wanted to read — there’s a story behind that decision as well.

Those are some of the stories we all tell. Green Man Review is a set of stories told by everyone who has been a part of it down the many decades.  Now let’s see what we’ve got for you this edition…

Though this author is best known for her Pern series, Grey gives us a review of her sole Arthurian novel: ‘”No hoof, no horse,” say the Worshipful Company of Farriers. “Farriery,” the craft of shoeing horses, was even more vital in the days when every mobile enterprise was dependent on horses, especially the enterprise of war. And what more famous warrior-king has there ever been than Arthur? What might it have been like to have been Arthur’s farrier? Anne McCaffrey gives an answer to this question in Black Horses for the King.’

Welsh mythology in the guise of a well-loved novel gets looked at by me: ‘I must have first read Alan Garner’s The Owl Service some forty years ago when I was interested in all things concerning Welsh mythology. I wanted a hardcover first edition which cost a pretty penny at the time. I mention this because it’s now been at least twenty years since I last read this novel, which is long enough that when Naxos kindly sent the audiobook, I had pretty much forgotten the story beyond remembering that I was very impressed by the story Garner told.’

Joseph takes a look at Bill Barich’s A Pint of Plain: Tradition, Change, and the Fate of the Irish Pub, which he describes as ‘a brilliant hybrid of new journalism and memoir: ‘By his own admission, Bill Barich is a dreamer on a mission to recapture his youth. But he greets each illusionary fishing hole, village, and forest with clarity and wisdom. In the end, the reader — not the author — feels nostalgic and thirsty for something never really existed.’ And Joseph even tells you how he did it.

Robert has I think a most superb novel for us: ‘Patricia A. McKillip does something in In the Forests of Serre that I don’t think I’ve ever noticed her doing before: there are recognizable elements of traditional folklore in the story. In fact, they are critically important parts of the story. And to top it off, in spite of the more-or-less Celtic-inspired feel of most of her work, they are from Slavic folklore.’


Jennifer brings us a new bebida she’s invented called La Bruja Te Prende Fuego, or, The Witch Sets You Afire. Please sip it responsibly. And call her next morning to report on your dreams.


April gives us a nice, succinct look at the next installment of Bill Willingham’s Fables — this volume titled War and Pieces. How succinct? She starts with this quote: ‘And that, my friends, is how the great war ended. Not with a bang, but with a wienie roast.’


Gary reviews a new offering from Austrian guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel, Angular Blues. He says of Muthspiel’s current trio, which includes Americans Scott Colley on double bass and Brian Blade on drums: ‘None of these three players are what you’d call flashy, but together this trio makes powerful and moving music.’

And Gary says a new EP by Anna Lynch, Apples in the Fall, consists of five country-folk songs with plenty of variety. ‘One thing they all have in common, though, is their emotional resonance. Lynch’s songs are rooted in personal specifics that are universal enough that every listener can see themselves in them.’

No’am has a review of Maddy Prior’s Arthur The King: ‘The practice of writing quasi traditional songs may horrify some, but it’s been my experience that such songs are much richer to our ears than the “finger in the ear” standard diet. Whilst I imagine that this fine disk will be labeled as “contemporary folk,” it’s difficult to picture any of these songs being played in a folk club by one person with an acoustic guitar. Modern technology is necessary in order to present these songs in their full majesty, and we are all the richer for Maddy and her merry men having done so.’

Vonnie looks at a darkly tinged album: ‘An Echo of Hooves has June Tabor returning to what, in my mind, she does best, delivering ballads or songs that tell a tale. For this she has chosen eleven Medieval ballads. Some of them are very well-known, like “The Cruel Mother,” “Hughie Graeme,” “Sir Patrick Spens” and “Bonnie James Campbell”. Others are new to me.’


Robert decided to upgrade the speakers for his computer and came up with a happy solution: ‘I spend a lot of time at the computer, surfing, writing, editing, and I like to listen to music from my rather extensive library, all of which is also stored on the computer. . . . Then I started thinking maybe I should upgrade, and started looking at speaker systems, but nothing clicked. Then one day I walked into Best Buy to pick up a replacement USB cable for my MP3 player, and spotted the Bose Companion 2 speakers. The price was reasonable, they were small and easy to deal with, so I bought them.’


It’s been just about a month since St. Valentine’s Day, which is time enough for reality to set in. With that in mind, here’s a beautiful live ‘bootleg’ recording of The Everybodyfields singing the classic country song’s  ‘Love Hurts’. It was recorded in the Galaxy Barn at Pickathon, on Aug. 4, 2008, not long before they broke up in early 2009.


About Iain Nicholas Mackenzie

I’m the Librarian for the Kinrowan Estate. I do love fresh brewed teas, curling, English mysteries and will often be playing Scandinavian or Celtic  music here in the Library.

I’m a violinist too, so you’ll me playing in various contradance band such as Chasing Fireflies and Mouse in the Cupboard as well as backing my wife Catherine up on yearly Christmas season tours in the Nordic countries.

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