Mythago Wood: The Crowning of the King

Mythago Wood cover, 2003 editionThe book of the month in my Goodreads post-SF/F-class reading group was Robert Holdstock’s Mythago Wood.  Like in the class that preceded it, we can still post essays but on a voluntary basis, and we have relaxed the requirements for word count.  Here is my contribution (OK, I admit: I actually posted it to the club on June 1, making it a day late!)


The Crowning of the King

Mythago Wood can be read as a story of the need to conquer the Female Principle in order to obtain legitimate status as the Male Principle, the alpha male.

The plot is driven by the need for the Huxley men – the father George and his two sons in turn – to claim sole possession over one woman despite knowing that others have at least as much “right” to. Indeed, each knows that she is a mythago formed by his predecessors’ longings but still calls her “his.”  Continue reading “Mythago Wood: The Crowning of the King”

Pop Culture Mythago Wood

Mythago Wood coverThe May book for my post-class reading group on Goodreads is Robert Holdstock’s Mythago Wood (1984). Holdstock met an untimely death from an E. coli infection after attending a science fiction convention in November 2009.  I tell you, this makes me even warier of con food!  It’s very sad that he died of such a seemingly stupid cause and well before his time.

As usual, I gather pop culture and offbeat resources to accompany our reading.   The first thing to note, however, is that for a book that had so much influence, and garnered so much acclaim, it generated relatively little pop culture derivatives, at least by name.  Moreover, it’s another of these books that is recent enough to be covered by copyright, but not enough to have received Internet popularity.

  • Robert Holdstock’s own official Website still exists and provides links to articles, reviews, news, and clips of his appearances before his death, as well as numerous tributes afterwards.
  • The Worlds Without End page for Mythago Wood offers a good number of links to reviews.
  • Holdstock himself on a bit of pop culture: “The Games We Play.”
  • Flickr user group: “Mythago Wood.”
  • Bran Ruz by Alain Deschamps and Claude Auclair, a standalone graphic novel telling legends of early Celtic Brittany and particularly of the lost city of Ys, is a good companion book.

There are, however, some fan-made mini-movies online, for example:

The book and subsequent series also produced musical influences:

  • Mythago Morris, a team of dancers, musicians and story tellers from Sussex (you’ll find a good number of clips of their shows on YouTube.)
  • The Latvian “post-metal” group SoundArcade released a song called “Mythago Fern” on the album “Moving The Great Hadron” (2012).
  • The Scottish death metal band which exists on-and-off, Mythago, with one album to date.
  • EDIT: The music of Ralph Vaughan Williams influenced Holdstock while he was writing the Mythago series.

And sports!

  • The University of Bristol Ultimate Frisbee Club calls itself the Mythago.

For those of us who enjoy role-playing games, I suggest the following:

  • Tim Gray’s Albion (Silver Branch Games): Celtic fantasy in a once and future Britain.  In addition, some of Tim’s other games like Legends Walk! and Arsenal of Heaven are also influenced by the mythic fantasy genre that Holdstock shaped.
  • In addition, several of the games listed when I wrote about the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales could be good matches.