Wednesday, August 24, 2011
The White Stag, by Kate Seredy
In reality, it is an epic tale of the journey of the Huns and the Magyars from Asia to the Hungarian countryside. With some distance (there have been a few weeks between the reading and the writing of this post) I think the story is a good one, if you like epic-style stories. There are prophesies, a little magic (not too much), multi-generational journeys, struggles... it's all there. It's a little like Exodus, with the Magyars and Huns instead of the Hebrews (and different enemies, of course). But it's told in such a style that the reading required a lot of effort for me. Instead of feeling grand and prophetic, it mostly just felt laborious.
That said, the illustrations, by the author herself, are gorgeous. I actually got a couple of comments on them as I read on the train! And while I found the writing of the story itself really hard to get into, I did really appreciate Kate Seredy's introduction. She talks about the difference between a story and the facts that fill books of the 20th century, and how valuable the stories are even without hard facts. If I didn't appreciate the storytelling, I did love the idea behind the story!
I did a little online poking and found that some people suggest this as a companion to The Trumpeter of Krakow - I can see the appeal, since this book is from the perspective of the conquerors, and Trumpeter is the story of a member of the conquered in a similar geography. But unlike Trumpeter, I would seriously hesitate before recommending this one to an elementary-aged kid - they should be REALLY into the sort of story before they'll get much out of it.
I'm pretty impressed with my 9-year-old self for getting all the way through it. Even if I did miss the point entirely at the time.