Welcome to a new regular series of features that I’m calling The Books That Time Forgot.
Since about the age of nine, I have read a mountain sized heap of books. Mainly Science Fiction and, to a slightly lesser extent, Horror, Fantasy, General Fiction and Non-Fiction. Obviously to review every single book that I have ever read in great detail would bore the pants off everyone, including myself, so in this series I’ll be briefly reviewing some of the most imaginative and weirdest books lost in the depths of both time and obscurity.
The White Bird of Kinship/Kinship Saga 1: The Road to Corlay (1978) by Richard Cowper. John Middleton Murry Junior was an author who wrote a variety of fiction, including some Science Fiction and Fantasy under the pseudonym Richard Cowper. The copy I read was an ancient and lovely Victor Gollancz yellow institutional hardback. The novel is the first part of a trilogy based on an earlier short story called Piper at the Gates of Dawn. It is set in an alternate, future dis-United Kingdom where floods have separated the country into islands ruled by a brutal totalitarian fundamentalist Christian theocracy. On to this stage steps mystical, musical and fork-tongued Tom the Piper; the harbinger of a new religion called the Kinship. The dramatic tension and adventure occurs when the overbearing Church tries to suppress this nascent, kinder faith. The bad guys are the Church’s shock-troops called Falcons and the good guys include typical rugged tough-guys like ex-Falcon turned resistance fighter Magpie. This book echoes many other works like the earlier Pavane and the later Knights of God. It is a painful, beautiful read, but not a feel-good jaunt. This is serious fantasy for grownups.