Gamebook store

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Urbane fantasy free on Kindle

A universe away from the Gothic tragedy of Frankenstein, never mind the swashbuckling epic adventure of Fabled Lands, there is the tradition of urbane (sic) fantasy pioneered by Saki and Lord Dunsany. Such stories usually belong to the category that SF academic Farah Mendlesohn calls liminal, in that the weird elements are presented as matter-of-factly as waking up to find deer crossing your back lawn. That wyvern perched on the chimney pot opposite may be no less alarming than a tiger on the loose from the zoo, but it's no more peculiar either. We all know how easy it can be to stray over into the Twilight Zone.

If urbane fantasy is your cup of Earl Grey (dash of lemon if you don't mind, old chap) you can pick up a free Kindle copy of A Minotaur at the Savoy (US edition here) until midnight on Friday. This little volume, as regular readers will know, is a tie-in with the world of the Mirabilis graphic novel, fleshing out the background by means of fifty tall tales woven around the postbag of the Royal Mythological Society. For example:
Dear Prof Bromfield and Dr Clattercut

Recently I was taken by a friend to a restaurant in Fitzrovia. As we were settling down over whisky and cigars after the meal, I glanced at the menu and noticed that the à la carte listed
Dodo Véronique. Intrigued as I was, I had by this time already put away a dozen oysters, the onion soup, a smoked haddock dish, two helpings of beef wellington, a lemon soufflé, a plate of almond biscuits, a bottle or two of Chateau Yquem and three large brandies. Also, I’d had a bit of a gyppy tummy earlier in the week, so at that stage I really didn’t feel up to fitting anything else in. I now rather wish I had, as I went for a bit of a walk to see if I could find the place again and there’s no sign of the street. I remember it had a little blue sconce of flame over the door, and a sort of curtain of ivory beads to keep the fog out. My friend has gone on a trip to Venezuela so no use asking him.

Sincerely, Edward Plunkett, The Attican Club, Pall Mall

Dr Clattercut replies: O rara avis in terris!

Prof Bromfield: Latin? You’ll have lost most of our readers right there, old man.

Dr Clattercut: I merely remarked on the pang of missed opportunity. Who knows how long before Mr Plunkett will again find himself in a restaurant with dodo on the menu?

Prof Bromfield: I doubt if there’s honestly any cause for regret. From what I hear, dodo is a tough, gamey sort of fowl. No use cooking it like chicken. Dodo meat is more like what you’d get on a year-old pheasant: tough if served pink, and dry if overcooked. Much more sensible to put it in a curry or a spicy Mexican dish. A Véronique sauce would be all wrong. There’s your explanation, Mr Plunkett – you can’t find the restaurant because it’s gone out of business.

Dr Clattercut: Perhaps the words of another rare bird, the Swan of Avon, will offer some consolation: “Things sweet to taste prove in digestion sour.”


  1. This is brilliant, I already have the print version but I haven't finished it yet, now I can finish it on my kindle. I do love my kindle. Thank you for another great freebie!

  2. Thanks, Wanderer. And if you happen to feel like giving it a rating on Amazon, I'd be doubly grateful ;-)