GBR #3: Nancy Springer


Nancy Springer, sketched directly in pen, then colored with crayon. Because CRAYONS!

I Am Morgan le Fay

At last: I reveal myself! Quail before me, mortal child! Down the long years have I journeyed…

Wait..this isn’t actually a declaration of my secret identity.  (That’s for another time.)

The Great Balticon Readathon continues with a look into the Arthurian realm with the very prolific Nancy Springer. Springer has broken the 50 book barrier. Think about that for a minute. Imagine the sheer linear feet of bookshelf space. Has it sunk in? Great! Now that you’re properly wide-eyed, let’s continue.

I Am Morgan Le Fay is one of those books marketed as Young Adult that so many of us who are no longer precisely young enjoy.

((Aside: Young…compared to what? We need a good term for these readers, and books these readers enjoy. A good book is a good book, and there should be no stigma attached to reading something outside of a prescribed age group. How about Aoung Ydult? Yes. That’ll do. End of aside.))


One of the risks assumed in addressing such an often-referenced legend in a book is that the whole enterprise can so easily fall into cliché. Overfamiliarity can kill a reader’s interest.   Nancy Springer takes these familiar characters, as well as a number of brand-new ones (or old ones in new guises) and builds for them a world that is lyric and mystical and uniquely hers.

Morgan’s power comes from her otherworldly nature but, like her enchanted castle, the life she builds is based on very real, and quite primal, human emotions and experience. Aoung Ydults, and Young Adults too, will appreciate the psychological foundation for Morgan’s flawed choices. This book would make an excellent book discussion group, because it raises questions. Can an individual overcome family history? Are we truly able to choose our actions? Or are our decisions pre-determined by early experience? Is Morgan a trustworthy narrator? Do we believe her when (spoiler redacted)? Are there parallels to people we know in life? Do we believe them?

I Am Morgan le Fay is a very readable book. Springer’s prose is lyric without being overblown. It is crisp in places, lush with description in others, but the parts blend well. Very approachable. (Just as with Varley, though, I found myself more deeply touched by an animal death than by some human passings. Seems to be a theme beginning here in the GBR. Or, perhaps, it’s just me.)

And speaking of accessible, Nancy Springer’s back list is now available via Open Road as digital downloads! She’s also rocking an author blog on Goodreads, and tweets about things that matter to me (like dandelions, for example. Oh, and books.) Be sure to visit her author site for these links and more.

If you have been following along through the Readathon, you know that I am seeking out things about which I could have conversations with the various authors, should we meet at Balticon. Nancy Springer collects, among other circular things, Venn diagrams. Thus I have made one. It’s the thought that counts.





3 thoughts on “GBR #3: Nancy Springer

  1. Ooh! Venn diagrams. I created one in my head a very long time ago. I won’t attempt to draw it in a comment section, but it refers to the literary category ‘fantasy’. It seemed to me that This was an enormous set, referring to all stories told that are consistent within themselves. Thus fantasy is the set that also includes Science Fiction, because the internal rules of Science Fiction require a technological or scientific consistency (as well as a good story, in the best of all worlds). So it is a subset, entirely enclosed. One can equally put the Western genre into the fantasy superset, as it requires a similar consistency concerning things such as horses, revolvers, the cattle vs. sheepherder trope or other well known things.
    Murder mysteries fit in their also. Just change the flavor of the tropes and slide it into the superset.

    In fact, what is called ‘Mainstream Literature’ fits in there as well, although it is a smaller circle, because nothing in such a story can succeed unless all its elements belong to this very dull consensual reality I’ve read so much about from other sources.
    In conclusion, every story ever told, whether by a fireside or in a huge print-run, fits into the superset of ‘fantasy’


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