Sunday, July 12, 2015

Top Ten - 1. The Gnole

I know I said I wasn't going to do this, but I had so much fun going through the alphabet and picking out my favourite authors and works that I didn't want it to end, so I gave it some thought and came up with my 10 favourites of those. It will be numbered from 1 - 10, but that's as much for convenience sake as anything. This is not in any order as such, I don't rate one book as better than another, they're all equally loved for different reasons. I am doing it alphabetically, which is why The Gnole, written by Alan Aldridge is first cab off the rank. In terms of posting schedule, I plan to do one book a day until I hit 10, I'll take weekends off, and Tuesdays are still reserved for football reviews.

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.


  1. I've never read the Gnole, I did try once but I wasn't in the right head-space for it at the time.

    what you say about Ka not being a particularly heroic hero reminds of Sam Gamgee from LoTR - I think he's an unsung hero as he doesn't want to go on this adventure, but he's not going to leave Frodo to go by himself to Mt Doom. He'd've been perfectly happy to stay home and garden.

  2. Prior to actually writing the review I did have the thought that Ka is very much The Gnole's version of Sam in Lord of the Rings. He does caution Fungle about not bothering with the outside world and letting them both stay at home doing their own thing.