The Owl Service (Collins Modern Classics S)


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He uncovers an old, dust and grime coated set of plates painted with a pattern which weaves the beak and eyes of an owl into a garlanded floral design. Alison becomes obsessed with tracing out the pattern onto sheets of paper, which she then folds into origami owls. Once she has done this, the original pattern disappears from the plates, leaving them blank. Her driven creation of owls from flowers acts as the trigger for the re-enactment of an age-old legend associated with the local landscape. Huw looks on and makes obscure bardic proclamations. Tom and Sally parting at Crewe Red Shift, like The Owl Service, features teenage protagonists on the cusp of adulthood, but who are still beholden to uncomprehending parents.

They too are wracked with intense, wrenching feelings for one another which are thwarted by the social and economic forces of the world around them, as well as by their own doubts and anxieties. Tom lives in uncomfortable proximity with his mother and father in a static caravan in Rudheath, Cheshire. He has an expressively romantic relationship with Jan, who lives with her parents in a nearby bungalow. When they move away and Jan begins her nursing studies in London, Tom arranges for them to meet at regular intervals at Crewe railway station.

From here, they cycle out into the outlying countryside. These time shifts are triggered by a mixture of emotional affinity and a tapping into the spirit of particular powerful locations. The struggling rump of a Roman legion, which includes some native followers, is ambushed and retreats to the rocky outcrop of Mow Cop. Here it becomes pinned down on a sacred tribal spot, where the soldiers discover a heavily pregnant woman sheltered in a cave. She is regarded by the local tribe as a fertility goddess, but treated as a prize of war by the Roman members of the legion.

The exception is Macey, who refuses to violate her like the others, treating her with due deference. He is a young Romanised Celt brought into the legion when he was just a child, and used by its leader, Logan, for his ability to go into a state of frenzied violence when certain trigger words are used. Another story takes place in the Civil War period.

Another young seer, Thomas Rowley, gazes out towards Mow Cop from the tower of the church in the nearby village of Bartholmey as the inhabitants prepare for a siege. A militia of Royalist Irishmen is sweeping across the country from the West ruthlessly set on rooting out parliamentary sympathisers.

Amongst those they seek is John Fowler, a charismatic figure in the village who is central to the organisation of the retreat into the fortress of the church. The Roman and Civil War periods are linked by a physical artefact, a stone axe-head. It is used by Macey, who breaks it from the axe in one of his frenzies, and dug up by Rowley, who calls it a lightning stone. He believes it to be a token of good luck if placed with a hearth, a ward against future lightning strikes.

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Tom and Jan discover it in an old ruined cottage on top of Mow Cop, and Tom takes care of it for them, holding it as an emblem of the possibility of a future spent together. The Keeper's cottage The Keeper is an enigmatic and subtly disturbing supernatural tale. It concerns Peter, an enthusiastic amateur ghost hunter. He is accompanied on one of his nocturnal investigations by Sally, as they seek to find proof of reported hauntings in a half-ruined gamekeepers cottage.


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Peter intends to measure and record any phenomena which might become manifest, confronting the unknown with empirical rationalism backed up with a battery of scientific equipment. His grandmother had told him tales from her childhood about the house and its reputation as a bad place. It had been left to fall into ruin by the daughter of its last inhabitant, a gamekeeper who shot himself in Sally seems to sense an abiding and watchful presence in the house.

As the night wears on, they play scrabble to pass the time. The words they choose with uncommon swiftness turn out to be from the lines of an old folk rhyme, which Sally has also unconsciously written out. It becomes increasingly clear that they have, through their curiosity, made a connection with some formless but powerful spirit of the land, a keeper which resents their presence.

Many of the themes of The Owl Service and Red Shift can be found in condensed form in their opening title sequences. The Owl Service uses musique concrete and diagrammatic animation and shadowplay to fold together modernity and age old tradition, the natural and the mechanistic, rational and supernatural in disconcerting visual collage. Their minimal animation therefore gives the sense of stories coming to life, pages flickering into being, their contents made physically manifest in the world beyond the covers.

The music begins with the rippling of a harp, a sound redolent of bardic traditions and the old oral storytelling fixed and codified in the books of the Mabinogion, the Welsh collection of Celtic legends. The harp is followed by a gurgle of water draining down a plughole, the sound transformed to give it a metallic cast. It conjures notions of a fluid passage corkscrewing through time. We then hear a motorbike engine revving, a more guttural reiteration of the harp and water sounds which lets us know that we have entered the mechanistic age of the internal combustion engine.

All three sounds form elements of an unbroken continuum, it is suggested. Bird shadows We see a stand of trees on a hill which are then contracted within a circular frame.

The Owl Service (collins Modern Classics) by Garner Alan

The combination of the two create a composite vision, an amalgamation of ways of seeing both ancient and modern. As if to give this concept visual form, we then see a pattern of concentric circles rippling inwards, waves of time drawn towards a focal point. A papery flutter of wings accompanies bird shadows cast by hands joined at the thumbs.

Hands then make a circle, echoing the one in which the trees were framed. This circular formation, a cyclical symbol, hints at a non-linear view of time, one which encompasses rebirth and recurrence. It is an invitation for something to come through, for an old pattern to re-establish itself. Colouring in the owl service pattern After the flight of wings, the harp returns, playing an old Welsh tune, and we see the pattern on the plate constructing itself, growing in an almost organic form, like time-lapsed lichen.

We hear a scrabbling, percussive patter, as of the scurrying of small, clawed feet. This morphs into an unnerving rubbing, ratcheting and stretching sound. It feels like some plastic material whose tensile strength is being tested to its limits, pulled taut from both directions.

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Something trying to break through the skein of time, perhaps. The raking tracks of clawed nails tears three ragged, parallel lines down the flower and owl mandala, and it fades from view. These titles really are a miniature masterpiece in themselves. They manage to convey so much, with such power, in a very short space of time. Red Shift begins with a bounding Autobahn style electronic theme by Phil Ryan. It immediately introduces the idea of modernity and of fast motorised motion.

We see blue lights coming towards us on a motorway, which blur and reform in the shape of stars approaching or some interstellar vessel rushing towards them , a ring nebula at the centre perhaps the remains of some cataclysmic supernova. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies. Dispatched from the UK in 3 business days When will my order arrive? Alan Garner.

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Harry Potter. Popular Features. New Releases. The Owl Service. Description Winner of both the Guardian Award and the Carnegie Medal, this is an all-time classic, combining mystery, adventure, history and a complex set of human relationships.

The Owl Service (Collins Modern Classics S) The Owl Service (Collins Modern Classics S)
The Owl Service (Collins Modern Classics S) The Owl Service (Collins Modern Classics S)
The Owl Service (Collins Modern Classics S) The Owl Service (Collins Modern Classics S)
The Owl Service (Collins Modern Classics S) The Owl Service (Collins Modern Classics S)
The Owl Service (Collins Modern Classics S) The Owl Service (Collins Modern Classics S)
The Owl Service (Collins Modern Classics S) The Owl Service (Collins Modern Classics S)
The Owl Service (Collins Modern Classics S) The Owl Service (Collins Modern Classics S)

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