After some sudden and unspecified catastrophe has depopulated England, the countryside reverts to nature, and the few survivors to a quasi-medieval way of life. Beginning with a loving description of nature reclaiming England -- fields becoming overrun by forest, domesticated animals running wild, roads and towns becoming overgrown, the hated London reverting to lake and poisonous swampland -- the rest of the story is an adventure set many years later in the wild landscape.
ound their dogs abandon the fold, and join the wild troops that fell upon the sheep. The black wood-dogs hunt in packs of ten or more (as many as forty have been counted), and are the pest of the farmer, for, unless his flocks are protected at night within stockades or enclosures, they are certain to be attacked. Not satisfied with killing enough to satisfy hunger, these dogs tear and mangle for sheer delight of blood, and will destroy twenty times as many as they can eat, leaving the miserably torn carcases on the field. Nor are the sheep always safe by day if the wood-dogs happen to be hungry. The shepherd is, therefore, usually accompanied by two or three mastiffs, of whose great size and strength the others stand in awe. At night, and when in large packs, starving in the snow, not even the mastiffs can check them.
No wood-dog, of any kind, has ever been known to attack man, and the hunter in the forest hears their bark in every direction without fear. It is, nevertheless, best to retire out of thei
a very engaging story. I am waiting for the second half.
This naturalist-science fiction-coming of age-adventure may be the best of Jefferies fictional work. A great and unspecified disaster has caused the collapse of British and presumably all late 19th century civilization. Britain has descended back into a medieval society with a few small cities based on a loose feudal system which appears to include knights, slaves, gipsy bands, brigands and an abundance of warring groups. Much of the British Isles are now covered by a large internal sea and travel is only one of many things which has become difficult and dangerous.
The protagonist hollows a log and builds a dugout canoe to seek adventure. His travels and experiences make up the core of the book. The story suffers from a sudden ending which makes one wonder if Mr. Jefferies had intended to write a sequel. If so that tomb never appeared as the author died a few years after this books publication. The body of his work stretched from children's stories to naturalist works, novels and essays. Yes he was a tree hugger but quite an extraordinary and talented one.
If you have not read Richard Jefferies before I recommend you first read Henry S. Salt's work "The Faith of Richard Jefferies".
The unspecified nature of the (presumably global) catastrophe coupled with the very scant details of the pre-collapse world lends this book durability. The author presented his world in such a way as to make me wish we could explore it.
However, the extreme detail often appears to overshadow the actual story. Much of the book appears to be setup for a story that doesn't really begin to flesh out until quite near the end. At which point, the hero walks into the sunset, leaving practically all the issues unresolved.
I imagine this abrupt ending was deliberate, adding to the timelessness of the story, but even so, the book leaves the reader in the lurch.
Nevertheless, reading this was not a waste of time.
Great story that seems as current as any modern science fiction & fantasy novel. The ending is abrupt but the world created by the author feels very real. Overall an engaging book.
This book describes England returning to the wild in a beautiful way. It's clear a lot of thought went into the setting and it really is convincing. I didn't find the actual story that engaging but the main character is interesting and the fantastic scenery and setting kept me reading.
This is a pretty weird tale and it has a rather abrupt end.But alltogether is a very good book and full of fascinating landscape descriptions.