My rating: 4 of 5 stars
THE DRAWING OF THE DARK is Tim Powers at his most playful.
Sure, he drags a whole bevvy of archetypes on stage as is his wont, with Fisher Kings and wise men to the fore. But we also get drunk Vikings, enchanted swords, wild journeys with high magic through the mountains, more beer, and large-scale battle scenes.
The plot revolves around the secret history of Europe, and a brewery that conjures up the stuff that champions are made of. It’s fantasy, Jim, but not as we know it.
It’s early Powers, so it’s not as intricate or tight as his later work, and not as densely lyrical. But it’s an awful lot of fun, especially after the Vikings turn up and the mayhem proper gets under way.
And did I mention that Merlin is in there too? And that he has a fondness for smoking dried snakes?
Powers invention is fully to the fore in this one, and also his way with a set piece, with the aforementioned trip through the mountains being a highlight, along with a descent deep into the bowels under the brewery with Merlin, where much that is hidden is revealed and the plot, and the beer, thickens.
A fantasy novel about beer, and Arthurian archetypes by one of the greatest novelists of our time? That’ll do for me.