A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
Fear slipped away from him like a dusty cloak. he began to hear each separate note of the pipe as clearly as if Tom were sitting playing at his side and he knew every listener in that vast concourse was hearing the same.
“Piper at the Gates of Dawn” is a terrific post-apocalyptic short story that eventually became the prologue to a trilogy of novels sometimes called the Corlay sequence or The White Bird of Kinship. It stands up all on its own though.
It’s a distant future and rising water has turned Europe into a kind of archipelago with culture and politics reminiscent of the middle ages. We meet young Tom and his Grandfather Peter. Tom plays the pipes and Peter tells stories and we follow them as they travel their way across what’s left of England. Ultimately, we learn that Tom’s extraordinary musical talent has an interesting role to play in the re-birth of art, science, and religion.
It’s not the most unique of set-ups, and it has a dated, new-age vibe to it, but Richard Cowper gives us a fully realized world and characters that live and breathe and peak our interest. Read it, and I guarantee you’ll want to carry on to The Road to Corlay and the other novels in the series.
Review by Matthew