The Buried Giant
I enjoyed The Buried Giant except for two elements, neither of which are Kazuo Ishiguro’s fault.
Firstly, the couple who find themselves looking for their adult son in this post-Roman and King Arthur Britain are called Axl and Beatrice. Axl keeps calling his wife ‘princess’, meaning I can now only see him as Danny Dyer, as that sounds like something he would call his wife if they were on a quest through a dragon, pixie, and evil-soldier cluttered landscape, complete with strange-mist-related amnesia.
My other problem is Gawain, the elderly knight who insists on wearing full, heavy armour all the time even though it is murder on his elderly horse, who reminds me an awful lot of my least favourite literary character ever, Don Quixote. Okay, he’s not quite that annoying, but he does go on a lot about his days at King Arthur’s side, which becasue I am already reminded of someone I don’t like, comes across as celebrity name-dropping.
But of course it’s a great book. The relationships are warm and genuine, there’s monks dangling themselves on hillsides by chains so they can pay penance by being pecked by birds, and a very real feeling of the danger that would have been present in a lawless, divided country. Saxons and Britons at war, dragons and magic, and having to travel without decent shoes, maps, and no service stations at all to stop for a cup of tea and a bun, and to purchase a bag of Murray Mints for the on-going journey. Times were very hard indeed.