Figures of Earth

James Branch Cabell

Ballantine Books 1969 [1921]
A book review by Danny Yee © 1993
One of the classic American fantasy novels, Figures of Earth one of many works set in Cabell's universe, a pseudo-medieval world with a lot of fantastic props. The story describes the life of Manuel, a swineherd of divine birth who rises to become a legendary hero and ruler. His adventures are told with a down-to-earth, pragmatic humour that verges on the cynical, and interspersed with short philosophical ruminations and poetical excursions, mostly on such things as the nature of love, relations between the sexes and personal commitments and journeys. None of these are, however, allowed to distract from the story, and everything is undercut by the humour; Cabell certainly doesn't take himself too seriously.

I enjoyed Figures of Earth a lot; its humour was so enjoyably sophisticated that I had to check that the author really was an American :-).

September 1993

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%T Figures of Earth
%A Cabell, James Branch
%I Ballantine Books
%D 1969 [1921]
%O paperback
%G ISBN 0345281705
%P xii,290pp