- Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn
Infobox Book |
name = Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn
image_caption = First edition cover
cover_artist = Ron Walotsky
language = English
media_type = Print (
pages = 308 pp
isbn = ISBN 978-0451455703
"Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn" was originally published in the
USin 1997 (and in the UKunder the title "Gate of Ivory" in 1998.) It was written by the award winning author Robert Holdstock. The story is a prequel to " Mythago Wood" and explores the Christian Huxley's quest into Ryhope Wood and the apparent suicide of his mother, Jennifer Huxley.
The title of the book is a clear reference to the
gates of horn and ivorydescribed in both Homer's " Odyssey" and Virgil's " Aeneid". The tale "The Cattle Raid of Cooley" was an inspiration according to the author. [Holdstock, Robert "Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn", (New York, NY: Roc Books, 1997), Acknowledgements page.] David Langford, an author, editor and literary critic, points out that the multitude of impossible tasks placed before one of the main characters is based on the " Mabinogion's" incomplete tale of Culhwch and Olwen. [Langford, David "Supernatural Fiction Writers, Second Edition, Volume 1", ed. Richard Bleiler (New York, NY: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2003), page 450.]
Reading the novel "Mythago Wood" and the novella "
The Bone Forest" will illuminate "Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn" for first time readers. Reading the Wikipedia article on "Mythago Wood" will help in understanding issues and terminology in this article.
Christian Huxley enters Ryhope wood on a search for the impelling mythago Guiwenneth and for a better understanding of his mother's suicide. Inside the wood he joins a small group of mythago companions who, in turn, join a vast army of mythagos, numbering in the thousands. This army includes many mythic archetypes including
shaman, shapeshifters, and warriors. Among these mythagos are those whose creation is influenced by King Arthurand the Welsh tales of Mabinogion, specifically the tale of Culhwch and Olwen. Echoing the tales of Culhwch and Olwen, Christian is assigned with completing many impossible tasks. Holdstock uses the story within a storydevice to have Kylhuk retell a tale involving himself, Olwen and Pwyll, among others.
This army, known as a
legion, is pursued by the angry dead on its search for the gates to the underworld. As Christian nears the end of his quest in the wood, he has an opportunity to enter the underworld (like Orpheus) and grapple with the suicide of his mother which has two very different manifestations, one true and one false. While in the underworld he is also faced with a difficult choice of rescuing only one of two loved ones from death. [Langford, David "Supernatural Fiction Writers, Second Edition, Volume 1", ed. Richard Bleiler (New York, NY: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2003), page 449.]
; Christian Huxley : Main character of the story and older brother of Stephen Huxley.; George Huxley : Father of Stephen and Christian and husband to Jennifer. George is a tall man lean man who is a scientist in the field of
psychologywho has studied with Carl Jung. He has also researched archaeologyand obsesses over myths. Over the course of his studies of Ryhope wood, George produces a scientific journal in six volumes, a personal diary and a detailed map of Ryhope wood. ; Jennifer Huxley : Wife of George and mother of Stephen and Christian. Her suicide is a central issue in "Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn".; Stephen Huxley : Christian's younger brother.
; Abandagora : A male
Saracenwho is brought back to life and is a member of Legion's advanced scouting group, "Forlorn Hope."; Eletherion : The oldest warrior son of Kyrdu. Eletherion is Kylhuk's foe.; Elidyr : A boatman who is a mythical combination of Bran and Charon, this 10 foot tall man takes the dead through the twin gates to the land of the dead. The boatman has the ability to travel through space and time and bring the dead back to life, but only before they pass through the twin gates.; Guiwenneth of the Green (also Gwyneth) : This female mythago (usually evoked as an older teenager) hearkens from the Bronze Ageand appears in various incarnations throughout time, including protomyth, a girl from Roman Britain, a manifestation of the Earth goddess, young Celtic warrior princess and Guinevere. [Pringle, David "Modern fantasy: the hundred best novels: an English language selection, 1946-1987", (New York: Peter Bedrick Books, 1989), page 241.] Each of Gwyneth's incarnations has a varied personality, some dangerous and other alluring, and differing relations with the members of the Huxley family.; Gwyr : The leader Forlorn Hope. Elidyr brings Gwyr back to life from the ashes. Gwyr is an interpreter of languages and sounder of the war horn.; Issabeau : A female member of Forlorn hope who is a Sorceressand Shapeshifter who served as an apprentice to Merlin. Issabeau has fair skin and long black hair. She shares the same primary myth as Someone.; Jarag : A male member of Forlorn Hope who is gray-haired Mesolithichunter.; Kylhuk (Kilhwch) : The heavy-set leader of the 4000-person army known as Legion.; Mabon : A man who is bound to guard the entrance to the underworld. Mabon has the power to show true memory to others.; Manandoun : A tall man with white hair who is Guiwenneth's guardian.; Olwen: The woman whose hand in marriage is sought by Kylhuk.; Someone : Someone son of Somebody is a Celt also known as Ironjacket. His father died before naming him so he has no name. Someone wears an iron studded leather jacket and has an orange moustache. He shares the same primary myth as Issabeau.
Books in the Mythago Cycle
Mythago Wood" (1984)
The Bone Forest" (1991), a novella and collection of short stories
The Hollowing" (1993)
Merlin's Wood" (1994), a novel and two short stories (only published in the UK)
Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn" (1997)
Avilion" (expected July 2009)Note: the order in which the works were written/published does not necessarily correspond to the order of events within the realm of the "Mythago Wood" cycle. For example, "Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn" and the novella "The Bone Forest" are prequels to "Mythago Wood" even though they were published at a later date. The novel "Merlin's Wood" and short stories in "The Bone Forest" and "Merlin's Wood" have little bearing on the events in the Ryhope wood. See the table below for a chronology of events within Ryhope wood.
*cite book | title=Mythago Wood | last=Holdstock | first=Robert | authorlink=Robert Holdstock | publisher=Victor Gollancz | location=London | edition=1st ed. | date=1984 | id=ISBN 978-0575034963
*cite book | title=Lavondyss | last=Holdstock | first=Robert | authorlink=Robert Holdstock | publisher=Victor Gollancz | location=London | edition=1st ed. | date=1988 | id=ISBN 978-057503475X
*cite book | title=The Bone Forest | last=Holdstock | first=Robert | authorlink=Robert Holdstock | publisher=Grafton | location=London | edition=1st ed. | date=1991 | id=ISBN 978-0246138330
*cite book | title=The Hollowing | last=Holdstock | first=Robert | authorlink=Robert Holdstock | publisher=HarperCollins | location=London | edition=1st ed. | date=1993 | id=ISBN 978-000224201X
*cite book | title=Merlin's Wood | last=Holdstock | first=Robert | authorlink=Robert Holdstock | publisher=HarperCollins| location=London | edition=1st ed. | date=1994 | id=ISBN 978-0002246031
*cite book | title=Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn | last=Holdstock | first=Robert | authorlink=Robert Holdstock | publisher=Roc Books | location=New York| edition=1st ed. | date=1997 | id=ISBN 978-0451455703
*cite book | title=Supernatural Fiction Writers | last=Langford | first=David | authorlink=David Langford | publisher=Charles Scribner's Sons | location=New York | edition=2nd ed. | date=2003 | id=ISBN 978-0684312514
* [http://www.robertholdstock.com// Mythago Wood: the official website of Robert Holdstock]
* [http://www.sfsite.com/12a/mytha22.htm The SF Site Mythago Wood series review by Steven H. Silver"]
* [http://www.sfsite.com/04a/ih125.htm The SF Site Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn review by William Thompson"]
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