What do women most desire? The answer to this riddle threads The Loathly Lady, an enchanting medieval adventure epic inspired by the old Celtic myth about the Loathly Lady and the Arthurian tales of chivalry. Here is what some of the advance reviews say about the book:
Publishers Weekly called The Loathly Lady “a surprising twist on familiar folk tales and Arthuriana”
A SF Crowsnest reviewer Kelly Jensen says: “I had a hard time putting ‘The Loathly Lady’ aside and the last hundred pages disappeared in a blur.”
Stuart Clark, the author of the acclaimed Project U.L.F. series characterizes the book as “Beautifully crafted. Lawson has created a world that leaps off the pages at you…A classic coming-of-age tale in a not-so-classic fantasy world…Thoroughly recommended!…Lawson puts a whole new twist on the fantasy novel. A must read.”
Here is what John Lawson himself says about writing this book:
Back when I was in college, to complete my foreign language requirements, I enrolled in a Middle English class. I was tired of studying French, and perhaps it appealed to me the idea of surprising some drunken fanfaron at the Renn Faire with my fluency.
It was much to my surprise (and pleasure) when I discovered that the class was less about the language and more about the literature. Just enough of Middle English was taught to enable us to read the works in their original forms. Term papers dealt with researching words so old and obscure, they weren’t even in the OED. Most of it was very familiar–Beowulf, Chaucer, Malory, de Troyes–but one piece came as a great surprise to me, The Tale of Florent by John Gower (an analogue to his friend Chaucer’s Wife of Bath tale), and I carried that story with me for over 20 years, waiting for the opportunity to use it. I have even kept the text book in which I first read it. (But please don’t look it up if you’re unfamiliar with it. There’s no need to spoil things.)
In previous interviews, I explained that in addition to exploring new regions of the world of the Seven Kingdoms, each of the books in the Witch Ember Cycle also carried a theme. The first book, Witch Ember, was heavily influenced by Arthurian Romances. The sequel, The Raven, borrowed from the Norse Sagas and Eddas. And Sorrow drew from Regency romances and Gothic horror. For The Loathly Lady, I wanted to create a fairy tale. As a prequel to Witch Ember, and with its Medieval setting, the book also leaned heavily Arthurian myths and fables, but really it was the tone of the old style Grimm’s fables that I wanted to capture. So I adopted as many of the conventions as I could. The themes of three. The repetition of introductions and alliteration. The nesting of stories within stories. And the fantastic and the grotesque.
Back in 2000, when I was writing Witch Ember, I was still carrying that Loathly Lady story around, and as the book developed, it became clear that two of the minor characters (who in fact ended up have a major impact upon the protagonist) were the perfect vehicles for my fable. It is with great satisfaction that I was finally able to bring their story to light. I didn’t so much as want to write a fairy tale as I did tell a story that could become one after, say, a 1000 years of retelling. I’d like to think that characters like Esmeree and Squirrel could be easily imagined entertaining young urchins gathered around the stage of the Mill, regaling them with the tale of Brandywine, the White Lady, and a dragon.
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