The Buried Giant
by Kazuo Ishiguro
Knopf (2015), Hardcover, 317 pages
As with past Kazuo Ishiguro novels, nothing is as it seems. Buried Giant is equal parts fantasy, historical fiction, action/adventure, and psychological investigation. The premise revolves around a disparate group of travellers on a quest- an older couple named Axl and Beatrice, both Britons, the Knight Sir Gawain of King Arthur fame, and a Saxon warrior named Wistan, along with his new charge, also a Saxon named Edwin, who sports a magical Dragon bite which connects him to the feared She-dragon Querig. This She-Dragon is responsible for spreading a mist throughout the country that leaves it’s citizens forgetful of the brutal past, when Britons and Saxon battled to a bloody result. This ability of the Dragon’s is a direct result of a spell cast on her by the wizard Merlin, as a way to attain a lasting peace by enabling the country to heal through the forgetting of past barbarisms.
It would seem that all of these travellers are on the same quest, but as the plot thickens, it becomes evident that all have diametrically opposed tasks. The prose is beautiful-many times throughout the story, the images Ishiguro described were vivid in my mind. The characters on the other hand are less defined, but the mystery attached to each character is integral to the storyline, as each is unsure of their past, owing to the mist of forgetfulness that has spread across the land.
The title Buried Giant most assuredly refers to the buried giant that is memory, and how we can forget, with the flip side being the question of whether we are better off forgetting, which would also negate any sense of justice or reckoning. There are many lessons embedded deep within the story for readers to discover, and I am sure that each reader will find many different interpretations.
The end is not what is expected, and while many questions remain unanswered, I found this an extremely satisfying and entertaining read. Recommended for readers of Historical fiction, Fantasy, action/adventure and Psychological mystery
(4 out of 5)