Sword at Sunset: Question Four


The little people. A stand in for faeries, still felt to me fantastic, and made the book feel as much fantastic as historical. I basically liked the take on them though, and the firmness of Artos' allying to them, as well as the fear most people had for them.

How did you find the little people?


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    I liked the little people - not sure they were a 'stand in for fairies' so much as a stand in for pagans. Obviously, they're meant to be non-romanized Welsh. If Picts and Scots had features more in the book, I suspect they may have been the same. The paganism of the Saxons was not explored, either.

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    See my comments elsewhere.

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    I also liked them, partly for their characterisation and partly for the link back to an older Britain. I don't think they really brought in a truly magical element - their presumed ability seems firmly rooted by Rosemary Sutcliffe in the superstitious awe held by other people, plus the deep familiarity with the land forced on them by a life in hiding. The most revealing episode IMHO was Guenhumara's assumption that they had somehow killed her child by stealing its life force in some way.
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    To make my "stand in for fairies" remark more clear, I'm thinking of them being a target of superstitious dread, living in hollow hills, moving without notice, and their miniature bows and poisoned arrows resembling elf-shot.

    But... in my opinion there's plenty of blurring of the lines between references to ancient British people, Faeries, and Picts in Arthurian literature (not so much the Welsh, I would judge). Probably what they are in the book are the ancient pre-Celtic population (ie: there before the Welsh, let alone the Romans and Saxons).

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