Wednesday, July 17, 2013
The Old Gods Waken
Anyway, in this one John runs into a weird mix of Druidism and Indian (Native American) mysticism, facing off against not only two druids, but against such dangerous Indian spirits as the dreaded Ravenmockers. The druids, a couple of nasty brothers named Voth, are trying to awaken ancient spirits that predate even the Indians in the mountains. Thus the book's title, as the Voths hope to raise old, forgotten, but angry gods and use their power for no good.
Like The Voice of the Mountain, which I reviewed a few weeks back, this book suffers mostly from being too long for its subject matter. It reads like a drawn out John the Balladeer short story, and while that's not a bad thing, it does make the pacing seem slow. Wellman does his usual amazing job of bringing the mountains of the Carolinas alive, and you can feel his love for the region, its people, and it's music and folklore.
The descriptions of the meals John shares with the country folk are particularly vivid, making me long for the days of lunches at my grandmother's house. The ham and biscuits, corn dodgers, greens, and such. You don't have to have grown up in the rural South to enjoy the simple pleasures of a John the Balladeer story, but I think it adds something to my own love of these stories. I grew up in backwoods Georgia, and the world John travels through is much like what I remember from my childhood.
One interesting bit from The Old Gods Waken is the inclusion of the Cherokee medicine man Reuben Manco. Manco also appears in several of Wellman's John Thunstone stories and one of the novels. Though Wellman never got around to having the two Johns onstage together, they did know one another and had mutual friends. I like that.
Anyway, this is another good John the Balladeer book, an excellent read for a lazy afternoon. Yeah it could move a bit faster but fast pace isn't everything. Sometimes it's better to just sit back and enjoy the ride.