BD1 Hexwood

Alex alex.mb at
Fri Nov 30 12:22:54 EST 2001

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!


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