BD1 Hexwood (spoilers too)

Jennifer Forsyth jforsyth at
Fri Dec 7 16:52:10 EST 2001

I want to echo Alex's question: Why has the Bannus decided to make Ann
into a child? And it's not just Ann, either, but Hume, although I can think of
an explanation for Hume's being a child. I think one of the problems I have with
Hexwood (and this isn't saying having problems can't be constructive) is that I
always feel cheated when I read it. It's not just that I think I know what's
going on and I don't, because I often enjoy books where stuff is going on I
don't understand until things come together later. I know I feel cheated, which
may well be exactly right given the plot, but I *liked* Ann. I liked the
village. I liked the "Earth"iness of it. When Ann realizes she's really Vierran,
I feel like Vierran's the substitute identity, not the other way around. And
while I'm thinking about it, there must be a good reason why Ann is sick at the
beginning, but I can't think why.


Alex wrote:

> I agree with much of what Ven has said about Hexwood and her comment about
> DWJs handling fo the structure being like the Bannus was extremely
> perspicacious - I hadn't thought of that before and it suddenly made a lot
> of things understandable that hadn't been before. This links up with the
> thing that I found interesting, the way in which DWJ sets up your
> expectations by making the beginning seem like a children's book and then
> subverts this utterly with the truth about Mordion and the Empire. I think
> this makes the evil of the Empire seem all the more chilling because our
> expectations are based around a different kind of text, a more sanitised one
> where the hero remains heroic, even if flawed, and the villains remain
> villainous. In a sense it's a complete contrast to A Tale Of Time City (this
> came into my mind because of the android connection) where the evil Lees
> remain unredeemingly evil and the good characters might be quirky or
> bad-tempered but are still intrinsically good. Perhaps it links with A
> Sudden Wild Magic hera as I'm never wholly convinced that Herrel will be a
> good man though Zillah is a bit too good to be true. Having said this
> though, we expect this confusion about characterisation in an adult novel
> wheras we don't in one for children and I'm not clear about who the book is
> aimed at. This is of course an outrageous overstatement (look at His Dark
> Materials, for instance) but there is a darkness at the heart of Hexwood
> that doesn't exist in the Chrestomanci books despite the themes of good and
> evil being present in those too.
> I haven't got my copy of Hexwood at the moment so can't check what I'm
> saying, but the other thing that strikes me (and it is relevant to what I've
> just said), is the emphasis on age. Ann is initially pubescent but in
> reality is post-pubertal and desires not a wholesome hero of the classic
> mode but a known killer. She must be drawn in part to the darkness of
> Mordion as well as the 'true and good' part of him that his smile is
> supposed to convey. If I had my book I'd like to look up what happens to the
> ages of all the characters and the way time shifts - Ann can never guarantee
> when she will return to the wood. Why has the Bannus decided to make Ann
> into a child? Its actions don't seem to be completely random though it's not
> always possible to see structure in what happens. I did notice the great age
> of the Reigners - is there a hint that knowing one is semi-immortal
> corrupts, or that age innures you to atrocities?
> Looking forward to more discussion - wish I'd had the chance to reread it -
> by the way I love the use of Runcorn as the portal. I know Runcorn quite
> well and it makes me laugh every time because lots of the council estates
> there were really quite space age in the 70s though many of them have been
> demolished now. I particularly liked the purple ones with porthole windows,
> they were really groovy!
> Alex
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