I got into reading fantasy after George R.R. Martin’s fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire, better known as A Game of Thrones. As I awaited the next instalment for Christmas, a fantasy loving friend recommended Mythago Wood, a classic that should be in every fantasy fans library.
Steven comes home from France on news of his father’s death to discover his brother Chris has fallen to his father’s obsession to find a path to the centre of their neighbouring wood. We soon discover it’s a ghost wood: a wood that’s very much alive and fights to stop anyone entering its inner domain, home to creatures created from the subconscious mind, mythic creatures known as mythagos, including Robin Hood, Arthur, and basic, tribal communities.
The world is incredibly detailed with its own in depth mythologies. It feels like a horror at times, with mythagos appearing like spectres out the corner of their creator’s eye, but there’s more to it than cheap scares. Chris disappears into the wood to find Guiwenneth, his lost mythago, but doesn’t return. When Guiwenneth emerges from the wood, an alluring love triangle develops as Steve and Guiwenneth form an unusual bond, and fall in love.
It’s a charming story of a tribal girl falling for a city guy, two characters from two different worlds, and possibly draws on the tale of Arthur’s betrayal by the love of Guinevere and Lancelot. I liked how the love triangle became central to the world. Steve creates a myth of his own when he enters the wood, destined to stop Chris from destroying the inner realm, desperate to rescue his true love.
Mythago Wood has a bit of everything, and gives a great way in for new fantasy fans. I was surprised I hadn’t heard of this classic until now, and definitely recommend giving it a read.