The Deep, by John Crowley

Doubleday 1975.

John Crowley's first novel does not much anticipate his later work. It is very reminiscent of stories that Ursula LeGuin used to write: a feudal fantasy set in an entirely imaginary world. The advantage of this vehicle is that it all comes from the author's mind, requiring no research apart from reading other stories in the genre. Still, the book is evocative of the "deeps" of time and space.

The mood is somber, somewhat forlorn. The characters seem, to a slight degree, to represent playing cards on a table. Crowley just hints at this. The game structure is not as literal as John Brunner's The Squares of the City where the characters are pieces in a secret chess game (which is given in the appendix).

The only bits that foreshadow his later stories are his interest in fortune-telling, mysterious cosmologies, and the confusion of "inside" and "outside". One character leaves an egg for a "barn elf", just as Sylvie does for Brownie in Little, Big.

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