Location: Seattle, Washington, United States

What you have here is an old guy. In education for 30 years, started teaching elementary, ended as library and media director of community college. I've enjoyed mountain climbing, sports car rallying, was pipe major of a bagpipe band, played guitar and sang during the folk revival, walking and hiking later in life. Now fairly sedentary. Enjoy reading, esp. mysteries and fantasy, but my reading is pretty eclectic. Enjoy movies, giving Netflix a workout.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Beltane the Smith

I’ve just finished reading Beltane the Smith by Jeffrey Farnol. Farnol was a very popular writer in the early 1900s. His most remembered novel is probably The Broad Highway. I only got around to reading Farnol a few years ago. In discussing various books with my old friend, Don Livingstone, Farnol was mentioned. I determined then and there that I would at least read his most popular book. I borrowed a copy from the library and I loved it. I’ve since read six or seven since and have enjoyed every one of them. I have many more to acquire and read. I think he wrote something over 40 books.

Beltane the Smith took me back to my high school days, where Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe was probably the first adult novel any of us had ever read. I think there was a general dread of reading anything that long. Our "Prose and Poetry" series that were our readers in the upper grades of elementary only had short stories and poems. Ivanhoe was an eye-opener and before many pages we were swept away into the middle ages with knights and derring-do.

Beltane may be a smith when the book opens but it becomes clear that he is of noble blood. His father, formerly Duke of Pentavalon, finally tells him. Beltane is determined to overthrow the evil Duke Ivo and win the hand of the lovely Helen of Mortain. He begins by burning the hated gallows upon which Ivo and his minions have hung so many good men. Gradually he gathers foresters and outlaws (shades of Robin Hood and The Black Arrow) and begins to chivvy Ivo and his partners, Guy of Allerdaine and Pertolepe. There is a wonderful array of interesting characters who are his closest followers, Giles, the archer, Black Roger, Walkyn and his mighty axe and Wulf, all of whom have mighty bones to pick with Duke Ivo. And of course there is romance, full-blown, thwarted, lied about, misunderstood until it is finally brought to full fruition. And of course the good guys win in the end but not before they fight against great odds and perform amazing feats. Battles, sieges, escapes, jousts, secret tunnels, forest glens and rocky caves to which to escape, everything that a 75-year-old boy could ask for. What a wonderful read, a glorious 572 pages first published in 1915.


Blogger adamosf said...

The great thing about maintaining a love of books one's entire life is that we can become boys again at the turn of a page when we discover a particularly exciting new book or author. It happened to me this past winter when I read THE ETCHED CITY, and I anticipate it happening again and again in the future.

I have Farnol's THE BROAD HIGHWAY on my extensive "wish list", and I hope to get to it sometime in the next 30 years. :)

7:17 AM  

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