Friday, July 28, 2017

FFB: Enchanted Pilgrimage -- Clifford D. Simak

Clifford D. Simak is one of my favorite SF writers, and his City is one of my favorite books of any kind.  It was the subject of my first FFB post, a long time gone.  Enchanted Pilgrimage is from late in Simak's career, and it's not in the came class as City, but that doesn't mean it's not fun to read.  It's a road novel, which means it's necessarily episodic, and it doesn't come to a very satisfactory conclusion, but in road novels the journey is the thing, isn't it?

What we have is an alternative earth, where trolls, goblins, giants, ogres, hellhounds, and Old Ones live in The Wastelands.  Mark Cornwall comes into possession of a document that mentions the secrets of this area, and he's then saved from Beckett, an inquisitor, by a rafter goblin named Oliver.  Mark and Oliver set out to learn the Wastelands' secrets.  Along the way they're joined by assorted pilgrims, each of whom has a reason for venturing into the danger zone.  These companions include Gil, a Marshman who's not quite human; Hal and Old Coon, his raccoon companion; a gnome named Snively, a blacksmith; and Mary, a servant at an inn, who remembers having lived in the Wastelands as a child. There's plenty of danger and a good bit of graphic violence along the way, but when the pilgrims do reach their destinations, they're rewarded with answers, even if there's no definite resolution.  I thought the latter part of the novel was a tad rushed, as there's a romance that comes out of nowhere and part of the resolution comes from way out in left field.  

The writing is fine, though, and the low-key style is pure Simak.  So while this will never be one of my favorite Simak novels, it's still fun to read and quite enjoyable on its own terms.


4 comments:

Steve Oerkfitz said...

I thought his later novels to be okay but nothing special. Preferred his shorter fiction overall.

Todd Mason said...

The first Simak I tried to read was CEMETERY WORLD...but then I found "Desertion" and "Huddling Place" and I learned how much more there was to his talent, insight and ability...

George said...

I prefer Simak's earlier works like "Big Front Yard"and WAY STATION.

Rick Robinson said...

I had (maybe still do have) this one, with that cover, and must have read it at some point, because your plot description sounds slightly familiar. I'm also (with Steve and others) a fan of his shorter fiction, though CITY is a definite favorite.