I’ve remarked before how much I like the structure of comic books — the way that little episodes build into a bigger story arc, which then weaves into a long history. Kage Baker’s The House of the Stag is maybe the closest I’ve seen to that in prose fiction.

What it does is tell a handful of stories, each of them more-or-less complete in their own right, with their own individual style and focus, but all of them building up to a single story arc of two characters. It’s reminiscent of what Gaiman does in Sandman, looking at the protagonist’s story from different angles and perspectives, and it works well here, providing a sense of meta-fictionality that’s in line with the story.

The House of the Stag is set in the same world as Baker’s The Anvil of the World , but it’s not a sequel in any meaningful sense. In fact, I don’t think you have to have read the earlier book at all to fully appreciate this one; as far as I recall, none of the characters are the same, and only some of the place names provide any particular overlap. Even the style is different — The Anvil of the World had a very Vancian feel, whereas this book has a more mythic fantasy feel to it.

I haven’t read anything quite like The House of the Stag, and I enjoyed it a great deal. Highly recommended to anyone who’s bored of more conventional fantasy, or those who found it too boring to get bored with.


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