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William Morris

William Morris(1834-1896)
William Morris
was the first author of fantasy literature to use a completely invented setting for his novels. He was an important influence on J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. The copyrights on William Morris’s work have expired, so they are available for free download (some in audio format) at public domain sites such as Project Gutenberg.

The Wood Beyond the World: Disappointing

The Wood Beyond the World by William Morris

I read The Wood Beyond the World largely because I enjoyed the author's The Well at the World's End so much. I was disappointed in it, though. It doesn't have the depth of the slightly later book (they were published two years apart), and the story itself is not as satisfying, nor is the main character as strong.

Golden Walter is what I call a spoiled protagonist. He ends up with benefits that he doesn't earn. In fact, he's not particularly admirable, despite the author's constant Mary Suing of him. When the book opens, he's having marital problems: his wife is unfaithful (totally not his fault, the author assures us). Instead of confronting this in any way at all, he tells his wealthy merchant father, "I'm off to sea on one of your ships, Dad. Deal with the unfaithful wife thing, would you?" (Except in a long-winded pseudo-archaic styl... Read More

The Well at the World’s End: Important piece of fantasy literature history

The Well at the World's End by William Morris

Notes: Because the copyright has expired, you can get The Well at the World's End for free on the Kindle at Amazon or at Project Gutenberg. Make sure you have the entire book. Some publishers have divided it into two installments.

William Morris, a textile artist, was enamored of medieval chivalric romances, so The Well at the World's End, published in 1896, is his contribution to that dying literary genre. Thus, you’ll find heroic knights on quests, damsels in distress, and scary beasts to slay. The novel is even written in archaic language. What’s different and no... Read More

The Sundering Flood: An old-fashioned heroic tale from a godfather of fantasy

We welcome a new guest reviewer: Michaela Hausmann.

The Sundering Flood by William Morris

The Sundering Flood (1897) is the last fantasy romance by William Morris. Unfinished during his lifetime, the romance was published posthumously by his daughter May Morris. It relates the trials and tribulations of the young hero Osberne and his female friend and future lover Elfhild. Although both are separated from each other by an impassable river (the eponymous Sundering Flood), they can communicate with each other across the water and form a close bond. When fate strikes and Elfhild seems lost, Osberne embarks on a journey to find her and becomes involved in a greater struggle for freedom.

Osberne is in many ways a typical hero, w... Read More

More books by William Morris

William Morris fantasy book reviews The Story of the Glittering Plain, Child Christopher and Goldilind the Fair, The Wood Beyond The World, The Water of the Wondrous IslesThe Story of the Glittering Plain — (1891) Publisher: It has been told that there was once a young man of free kindred and whose name was Hallblithe: he was fair, strong, and not untried in battle; he was of the House of the Raven of old time. “Drink, O black-fledged nestling! But call a health over the cup if thou wilt.” So Hallblithe raised the cup aloft and cried: “Health to the House of the Raven and to them that love it! an ill day to its foemen!” Then he set his lips to the cup and drank; and that wine seemed to him better and stronger than any he had ever tasted. But when he had given the cup back again to Fox, that red one filled it again, and cried over it.

William Morris fantasy book reviews The Story of the Glittering Plain, Child Christopher and Goldilind the Fair, The Wood Beyond The World, The Water of the Wondrous IslesChild Christopher and Goldilind the Fair — (1895) Publisher: Child Christopher and Goldilind the Fair is both fairy tale and prose romance, as freshly-written today as it was the day William Morris created it. It tells the tale that in the country which lay south of Oakenrealm, and was called Meadham, there was in these days a king whose wife was dead, but had left him a fair daughter, who was born some four years after King Christopher. A good man was this King Roland, mild, bounteous, and no regarder of persons in his justice; and well-beloved he was of his folk: yet could not their love keep him alive.

William Morris fantasy book reviews The Story of the Glittering Plain, Child Christopher and Goldilind the Fair, The Wood Beyond The World, The Water of the Wondrous Isles

The Water of the Wondrous Isles — (1897) Publisher: Hah, thrall! said the lady, thou art bold; thou art over-bold, thou naked wretch, to bandy words with me. What heed I thy tale now thou art under my hand? Her voice was cold rather than fierce, yet was there the poison of malice therein. But Birdalone spake: If I be bold, lady, it is because I see that I have come into the House of Death. The dying may well be bold.

William Morris The Sundering FloodThe Sundering Flood — (1897) Publisher: The Sundering Flood, among the last of Morris’s works, was published in 1897, after his death. The beautiful prose and rich use of language are typical of Morris and fill the reader with a sense of awe and wonder. The “flood” of the title is nothing less than a river, metaphorically as well as literally dividing two lovers. And there is the fantastic, too: dwarf folk, a magic sword, and an ageless warrior to mentor the hero. All told, a delightful story certain to appeal to all lovers of classic fantasy. “C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien both acknowledged the influence of William Morris.” —The Encyclopedia of Fantasy “No mountains in literature are as far away as the distant mountains of Morris.” —C.S. Lewis