One of a Kind

What makes a novel a classic? The best measuring stick is probably longevity for the older books like Treasure Island and Moby Dick but what makes a modern classic like Lord of the Flies or xKurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle. To my way of thinking it is its unassailable originality, a point of view or a situation or a circumstance that puts it in a class by itself, in a place where it is safe from any attempt to copy it. But let’s up the ante even further and ask what makes a modern medieval classic?

How could there be such a thing in the first place? Aren’t the terms modern and medieval impossible to reconcile together. No, not with hundreds of popular costume fairs taking place all over the world today celebrating the period between the fall of Rome and the rise of other empires. Not with organizations popping up that embrace feudal hierarchy with a king and a queen and a peerage. Not with hundreds of costume shops and tailors and boutiques specializing in that style of clothing. But what about a modern medieval classic?

The only one I can think of offhand is Gahan Hanmer’s The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality in which modern multimillionaire Albert Keane creates a medieval kingdom in an isolated river valley in the Canadian wilderness and crowns himself king. It’s a fantasy that doesn’t employ any magic tricks, a touching romance, a provocative satire and a page-turning adventure in a present day kingdom that has nothing whatever to do with the modern era. Would you like to visit such a place? Would you like to live there? Be careful because you have a long way to walk if you want to leave! In any case you’ll be sure to enjoy this modern medieval classic.