Friday, November 17, 2017

Shardik - Richard Adams

After his bestselling 'Watership Down' (I'm sure you remember those rabbits), Adams came with this : A medieval fantasy novel, starring an enormous brown bear as a Jesus-like figure becoming the object of a cult. 

I was too young for literary criticism when I read it (a good ten years after it was published, I might add), but I loved this book dearly in my teens and agreed with George RR Martin's epitaph on Adams last year where he called 'Shardik' "a criminally underrated masterpiece". (I gather Stephen King also has referenced Shardik in one of his novels, so it's not just Martin and me.)
When I came across this copy in a British charity shop last summer, it became obvious Destiny felt it was time for a re-read.

Surprisingly, I actually think I enjoyed 'Shardik' even more this time!
Adams's storytelling is contained and controlled - very much contrary to Martin's unchecked narrative and disturbing infatuation with his own characters - and the plot has several levels you can choose whether you wish to focus on or not. 
It deals with religion, of course, but also on childhood, nature, hierarchy and social studies. 
Plus, it's a pageturner! 

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