Review: The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro (Knopf, 336 pages)

Yes, it really is that good.

I mean, come on. If you've read Ishiguro before, you know what I'm talking about. His style is as smooth as Nutella (and as wonderful), he builds up the suspense without being flashy, and he explores profound subjects through a variety of narrative lenses. Man is a master.

His latest novel takes place in ancient Britain, after the Romans have left and as the country is settling into a kind of dull stupor. The wars that once ravaged it have ceased, but the peace that has come to the weary Britons and Saxons is not the calm, refreshing kind. Something ("the mist") is blocking their long- and short-term memories. An old couple, Axl and Beatrice, fighting this mental haze and determined to retrieve their memories of a long life together, set out on a journey to find their son. They barely remember him, and can't even recall why he lives so far away, but this quest is their last and best effort to piece together their shared past.

Along the way, they fall in with a knight, Wistan, and a boy who is exiled from his village because he was bitten by a dragon. Ogres, dragons, weird magical hybrid things- these populate the vast green terrain the couple traverses, lending their seemingly-straightforward quest a heroic dimension. And as we find out later, this is for a good reason.

They also hang out with Sir Gawain and his horse Horace (yes, THAT, Sir Gawain, I know!!). Gawain is old and creaky, but is himself on an important journey- to slay the she-dragon whose breath, he claims, causes the misty memories. Turns out, Wistan, too, is after the dragon, but for a different reason.

As Axl and Beatrice struggle up mountains, across lakes, and over rocky terrain, they find themselves remembering more bits and pieces of their lives- both the good and bad times. Everything is still hazy, but eventually they remember that one betrayed the other, they separated and reunited, and that had something to do with their son's departure. Even as these memories filter back in, Axl and Beatrice grow closer, clinging to one another in anticipation of what they'll eventually remember and dreading the same.

Arthurian legend, myth, and fantasy mingle beautifully in The Buried Giant, and the story itself seems to weave a spell around you as you near the end. After all, Ishiguro knows how to end novels, and this one is no different.


  1. Am a big fan of the author so I'm glad to hear this book is as good as I expect it to be. Can't wait to get my hands on it now!

  2. This sounds awesome. I must add it to my TBR list. Thanks for the review and author love. I've never read this author.

  3. This sounds awesome. I must add it to my TBR list. Thanks for the review and author love. I've never read this author.

  4. A deep contemplation on human relations set in the allegorical context of Arthurian legend. The events in the novel left me feeling ambiguous and uneasy, which is a big plus in my view. Ishiguro does not dictate moral lessons to his readers. Instead he presents complex scenarios and forces the reader to come to their own conclusions.

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