After posting my first lot of favourite authors I embarked on a big personal reread project, and the first book I decided to reread was The Gnole. So having reread it recently altered my view of it a little. It's still a favourite, it always will be, but I did find myself viewing it differently this time. Fungle, the Gnole of the title, is still the major character, but he's a rather static hero. What you see with Fungle is pretty much what you get and that's how he stays for the entire novel. The real hero of the piece and the one that goes through the most change is his friend Ka the earth gnome. When Fungle gets taken by the world outside their hidden home, it's Ka who goes after him, it's Ka who pushes Neema to accompany him on the great Fungle rescue. Ka finds qualities he never knew he had. Heroes aren't all big strong brave characters who laugh in the face of death, sometimes they're timid creatures who burrow through the earth, have questionable personal hygiene and just want their lives to go on as they always have. Ka doesn't embody the accepted heroic conventions, but he has qualities, he's loyal and dependable, he values friendship and personal freedom, he's brave although he doesn't realise it himself.
Over the years The Gnole has dated a little, but it's ecological message still applies, even more so now than when it first came out. The author's personal experience of the media allowed him to make some subtle comment on the nature of modern media and he nailed it. If a previously unknown creature wandered out of it's hidden home deep in the depths of the wilderness and showed itself to be interesting, intelligent and entertaining, the media would be all over it and said creature would find itself the property of the public as a mega star in high demand.
The Gnole is a real modern fairy tale and Fungle is a hobbit for the rock and roll age.