“The King That Was Not”

Well, the work of weird fiction we’re discussing over at LibraryThing this week is a short one. You can use the link to read it, and it will probably take you all of five minutes.

Review: “The King That Was Not”, Lord Dunsany, 1906. 

As I said it’s short, and, for me, that’s a plus when it comes to Dunsany, an author I don’t like as well as many. I’m not sure why that is. The King James Bible cadence and phraseology don’t bother me. I think I’m annoyed by the quality others like in Dunsany, his tendency to put snags in his story which stop you and cause you to reconsider or reread what went before.

Anyway, I did enjoy this wry Dunsany tale explaining why there is no king in the land of Runazar. 

Once upon a time, King Althazar decided to honor the gods with statues to them.

The gods were not amused by Althazar making the faces of the gods like the faces of men.

They decreed that they won’t speak of Althazar, They won’t dream of Althazar.

And Althazar simply disappears, not just physically but in all memory and history. 

The priests perpetuate the idea that Runazar never had a king and that’s why they’re in charge.

It’s an interesting twist on a divine curse and the tendency of a political elite to justify their reign on dubious or incomplete grounds as well as, of course, the inability of the merely material to capture the likeness of the divine.

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