Monday, September 9, 2019

Seonag and the Seawolves, by M. Evan MacGriogair

[Single]
★★★☆☆

(Scottish Folktale Fantasy) This is the story of Seonag and how she crossed the waves ahead of the hunters and how she found the wolves and what happened then. (8,459 words; Time: 28m)

Recommended By: ๐Ÿ‘ABrown+1 ๐Ÿ‘MHaskins+1 (Q&A)


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Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Review: 2019.498 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: This story is set in the Scottish Hebrides, about half-way between London and Iceland. Calum (Malcom), in his old age, tells the story of Seonag (Joan), whom he knew as a teenager. Having no place in the community after her family left for Canada, she ends up swimming to find the lost wolves of Scotland.

Up to that point, I thought Calum’s father’s advice really just amounted to telling her to kill herself. Even at the warmest, the waters off the Hebrides will kill a swimmer in under two hours. However, magic is clearly involved, so the fact that she manages a 50-mile swim (and Calum manages to swim back) is just part of that.

On Hiort (or wherever she ended up), she finally finds what her real purpose in life was, and she becomes the new guardian. She punishes Dรฒmhnall Geur (“Clever Donald”), the man who killed the wolf, she lets Seรฒras (George) and Dรฒmhnall Dubh (“Black Donald”—but now they’ll call him “White Donald”) escape. And Calum swims back with the knife.

I suppose the lesson is to be good to people who’re different from you, as long as they’re not different in a bad way (e.g. cruel like “Clever Donald.”) And not to kill the wild things just because you can.

I think the joke in calling her “Seonag Bhร n” is that “Ros Bhร n” is Snow White from the fairy tale, who was also pale with black hair. I’d be interested if anyone with a better understanding of Gaelic has a better idea.

Con: It makes too much use of Gaelic, which is a distraction if you look it up and a source of confusion if you don’t.

In terms of disbelief, it sort of lost me when the four men managed to follow her in a boat. I was pretty sure her swim was magical and that she’d arrived in a magic land, so it made sense that Calum couldn’t follow her. But for them to follow in a mundane boat seemed like a wrong note to me.

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