Bardskull is the record of three journeys made by Martin Shaw, the celebrated storyteller and interpreter of myth, in the year before he turned fifty. It is unlike anything he has written before. This is not a book about myth or narrative: rather, it is a sequence of incantations, a series of battles.
Each of the three journeys sees Shaw walk alone into a Dartmoor forest and wait. What arrive are stories – fragments of myth that he has carried within him for decades: the deep history of Dartmoor itself; the lives of distant family members; Arthurian legend; and tales from India, Persia, Lapland, the Caucasus and Siberia. But these stories and their tellers don’t arrive as the bearers of solace or easy wisdom. As with all quests, Shaw is entering a domain of traps and tests.
Bardskull can be read as a fable, as memoir, as auto-fiction or as an attempt to undomesticate myth. It is a magnificent, unclassifiable work of the imagination.
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