Friday, May 11, 2018

Book Review: The Druid Stone

Book Review: 'The Druid Stone' by Simon Majors

2 / 5 Stars

'Simon Majors' was one of the pseudonyms used by the prolific American author Gardner Fox (1911 - 1986). The Druid Stone first was published in the U.S. in 1967; this New English Library paperback (111 pp) was released in February 1970.

The NEL could saddle its paperbacks with underwhelming cover art; that said, this has to be one of the worst cover illustrations I've ever seen on a book. But this also is one of those novels where, sadly, the poor cover art complements the poor text within.............

The Druid Stone is set in New Hampshire in the mid-60s. The protagonist, a man of the world named Brian Creoghan, is in a state of semi-retirement, losing himself in wandering the rural Autumn landscape during the days........ and sitting down beside the fireplace with a snifter of the best brandy in the evenings. 

He draws the attention of two 'Goths': Ugony and Moira MacArt, a brother and sister living in a mansion nearby.

It seems that the MacArts are intently pursuing occult knowledge, knowledge that they hope will allow them to access Dis, the parallel dimension often referred to in old legends and myths as the world of fairy. They believe that Croeghan has the innate ability to access Dis, provided the right conditions are used to enable his Astral Transport.

Bemused by the idea, Creoghan consents to participate in a strange experiment: by touching the Druid Stone, an artifact in the possession of the MacArts, he will attempt to project his 'astral body' into Dis.

The experiment succeeds..........and upon lapsing into a coma in 'our' world, Creoghan finds himself reincarnated in Dis, in the body of a barbarian warrior named Kalgornn. Croeghan / Kalgornn then embarks on a series of adventures, all of which have implications for the survival of our world and its inhabitants.

Even making allowances for its brevity, The Druid Stone is a mediocre effort from Fox, who was content to rely on stilted, pulp-style prose when writing this novel. 

Its underlying premise shows promise, and likely could have been worked into something impressive by a more dedicated author. For example, Fox shows hints of Lovecraftian events underlying what seems to be a conventional sword-and-sorcery tale, but these and other glimpses of imagination never are developed, and the narrative lumbers to a predictable ending. 

I can only recommend The Druid Stone to those Gardner Fox devotees who must have every one of his novels in their collection. 

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