Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Powys' Porius - A Big Read

Just a quick post today about a new, old book that I’ve just cracked open. I’m talking about John Cowper Powys’ Porius, a novel set during what is commonly referred to as the Arthurian period or ‘Dark Ages’.

For some time I’ve been debating starting this unabridged pack of seven hundred and fifty one small print pages but after reading a couple of sample paragraphs, I find that I have been drawn in by Powys’ language.

The scene is north Wales in the year A.D. 499 and Porius, a Briton descended from Cunneda, is facing attack from invading Saxons and their Pictish and Scots allies. To aid Porius, the ‘Emperor’ Arthur sends his advisor Merlin as well as Nineue and Medrawd. I don’t know what will happen but I am looking forward to this, admittedly long, journey. But, isn’t that the great thing about sweeping historical novels? Getting swept up in events that could shatter the world of the characters about whom one is reading is fantastic. Historically, we know that eventually the Saxons overwhelm the beleaguered Britons who, for however brief a time, hold out against the invaders. However clichéd it may be to say it, the journey is what matters, or rather we should say that the journey is the adventure.

With an author such as Powys at the helm of this tale, it promises to be a formidable read in an land that is truly as beautiful as the words he uses to describe it. After the first few pages, one can see that Powys held Wales dear. I’ve been all over Wales and can honestly say it contains some of the most dramatic, romantic landscapes in Britain, from the mountains of Snowdonia, to the Legionary base at Caerleon, to the druid stronghold of Anglesey. If I can dig up and scan some of my photos from past travels, I’ll endeavour to share them here as they are definitely worth a glance.

For now, on into Porius as I lug this massive thing into packed morning subway cars where people have already shot me odd ‘What the hell is he reading?’ looks. That’s ok. I’m in my own world when reading. My only regret is that I don’t have this thing on an e-reader.
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