Thursday, 6 September 2007

The Moon Stallion

I said I would write more about this, so here goes. The book is a novelisation of a 1970s BBC serial (which completely passed me by). It's not really a classical pony book - more a story that happens to have a horse in it.

The Moon Stallion of the title is a white horse who is connected to the White Horse of Uffington. The story is set in either late Victorian or Edwardian times (it's not specific) and opens with an archaeologist, Professor Purwell, and his children, Diana and Paul going to Uffington. The Professor has been asked by Sir George Mortenhurze, a local squire, to seek out the true facts about the historical King Arthur.
It soon emerges that Mortenhurze, and Todman, his stablemaster, and it turns out, a horse warlock, have designs on the Moon Stallion - Mortenhurze because he wants revenge on it for having, he thinks, caused the death of his wife, and Todman because he wants the power the Moon Stallion has. The plot centres around Diana, who is blind, but who has a connection with the Moon Stallion and does in fact turn out to be the Moon Child.
I won't give the plot away completely, though it does end pretty much as you would expect. Novelisations aren't always the most successful literary form, and this one doesn't do much to improve the genre. The author (Brian Hayles) has a disturbingly literaral approach, and it is as if he is describing exactly what he sees on the screen - as he was a scriptwriter this is possibly why. It leads to a mire of redundant adjectives and description, and left me longing for a red pen to get rid of all the verbiage. Here's an example:
"Thank God you're safe, child!" whispered Purwell into his daughter's hair, as he hugged her to him, not ashamed to cry as her gentle fingertips caressed his face. Paul bubbled over with excited laughter and cheerfully pulled Estelle into the heart of the family confusion.
You might have spotted that Purwell whispered: and in the whole book no one ever says anything: they demand, retort, grunt, smile... All of this makes the book a bit of an effort to read. The constant packing in of far more words than are necessary makes it tedious in places, and instead of introducing emotional subtlety it's rather more as if you're being hit over the head by an author who is constantly trying to impress you with the accuracy of their description.
"A shadow crossed her face, and she called out, into the shadowy interior, quietly troubled."
Why quietly troubled? Just troubled would have done. Maybe if I'd seen the TV series, I'd have had enough of a sense of magic for the story to have taken over, but it just didn't work for me.
If any of you saw the series, I'd love to know what you thought of it. And indeed, the book.


I am sorry about the total absence of line breaks - try as I might I can't get any to appear. The Moon Stallion obviously doesn't approve of this post.

5 comments:

mutterings and meanderings said...

sounds like a good idea and the sort of story I would've liked; shame it's been badly done.

Gillian said...

I don't remember 'Moon Stallion' at all, but the book cover is so evocative of the 70's.

smallbutmighty said...

Yes I saw the Moon Stallion on TV, but not read the book. I do remmeber it from your summary, but don't recall being much more impressed with the TV vesion than you are with the book spin-off! But hey it was horsey and on TV...

Jane said...

sbm - what a shame! I had been hoping that the TV version was better, as I could sort of see it in my mind when I was reading the book, and it didn't play too badly there....

Bowleserised said...

I have had this book for years yet never read it. This saves me the trouble!