An ancient historical feud between goblins and elves gets the comic treatment in this razor sharp satire on war and state propaganda.
Brangwain Spurge is an elfin historian. He has been sent by spymaster Lord Clivers to the neighbouring goblin kingdom to make peace. He carries with him a carved gemstone, to be presented to the goblin king, Ghohg. Spurge is also charged with an additional mission: to spy and send back reports.
Upon arrival, Spurge is welcomed by his goblin host, Werfel the Archivist. Both men are historians and should hit it off, but they quickly start feuding. Goblins and Elves have been at war for over a thousand years and each party is keen to blame the other for their long history of hostilities. As troubles mount for Werfel in his own country, the historian and archivist learn to tolerate each other, eventually developing a friendship.
Brangwain Spurge is a razor sharp comedy that lampoons the absurdities of war. There are echoes of Cervante’s Don Quixote in M.T. Anderson’s courtly main characters, with their haughty concerns over honour and status. Their absurd and deluded misreadings of Elfin-Goblin history is a pithy reminder of how prejudices become entrenched. Beautifully produced, with entire chapters narrated by Eugene Yelchin’s lively black and white illustrations, Brangwain Spurge is a hilarious romp with a very serious message.
Ages 10 +
The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge, by M.T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin. Published by Candlewick Press. RRP: $24.99
Review by Chris Saliba
North Melbourne Books