Beyond The Fields We Know: Five Enchanted Forests

ARTWORK by chic2view from 123RF.com

It’s Trope Tuesday time at Wyrd & Wonder, and the first one is very relevant to this year’s theme – the enchanted forest. Just where you’d find a chap like the wood wolf above. Now me, I love a good enchanted forest. It’s one of those classic archetypes that goes right to the centre of one of fantasy’s currents, and takes me back to my old childhood joy of entering an old forest. Not that England has particularly old forests.

But I do have some old books here. My peeps know I love my book books, but I’m going quite old even for me. So here’s five of my best, going backwards in time…

The Rigante Series by David Gemmell

The Rigante series consists of two duologies set centuries apart, but among the constants binding them together are the Seidh woods. They are enchanted mainly due to their inhabitants, the powerful and capricious Seidh (I’m sure you recognise the inspiration from the name). Sometimes they give humanity great blessings, and sometimes they give them terrible curses, but they always give humanity what they ask for…

And yes, this series is a mere twenty year old, but don’t worry, it’s getting older.

The Book of Atrix Wolfe by Patricia McKillip

Well that cover screams enchanted wood, right? Here the Wood goes unnamed but it too is inhabited by powerful beings little understood by the humans. We see three in particular; the Queen, the King, and their daughter. But when the mage Atrix Wolfe seeks to the war between two feuding kings, he rips that family apart, and the consequences reverberate on and on…

The Mythago Wood Cycle by Robert Holdstock

Maybe the single most enchanted forest besotted series of all time, Holdstock’s Mythago Wood series centres around a place called Ryhope Wood (and many other names). Venture far enough inside Ryhope and you’ll find a pocket dimension of sorts, peopled mythagos – shadows of our own imagination. Live close enough and you’ll discover that maybe the mythagos will come out too, and that’s not always a grand thing.

The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

Rumours that Tolkien used to open sessions of the Inklings by rapping “I like fey woods and I cannot lie” are probably made up on the spot. Nevertheless, it hits on a core truth. Tolkien really liked his enchanted woods. You can barely move for the blighters. Lorien, Fangorn, The Old Wood… and that’s not even counting his non-LotR woods. So yes, this has to be here. And now for something even older.

The King of Elfland’s Daughter by Lord Dunsany

Aye, I know I’ve already spoken of this one today. But it does have a great enchanted forest in Elfland, with a particularly memorable scene when the hero is trying to gain access. It really captures that sense that once upon a time, many of our ancestors lived in their little villages and looked on the forests as places of wonder and terror.

That’s my five, let me know of any other great enchanted forests you know and love.

5 thoughts on “Beyond The Fields We Know: Five Enchanted Forests

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