Reviews Logo
SearchHomeContents PageSite Map
The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest
edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling
Viking, 368 pages

The Green Man:  Tales from the Mythic Forest
Ellen Datlow
Ellen Datlow was the fiction editor of OMNI from 1981 until it folded in 1998. She now works as the fiction editor of SCIFI.COM. Her well-deserved reputation as an editor for both this series and for the Fairy Tale Anthologies series (both with Terri Windling) has garnered her numerous awards.

ISFDB Bibliography

Terri Windling
Terri Windling is a five-time World Fantasy Award winner, a consulting fantasy editor at Tor, the author of The Wood Wife (winner of the Mythopoeic Award) and other fiction, and writes a popular folklore column for Realms of Fantasy magazine.

Terri Windling Website
ISFDB Bibliography

SF Site Review: The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, 14th Annual Collection
SF Site Review: Year's Best Fantasy & Horror, 13th Annual Collection
SF Site Review: Black Heart, Ivory Bones
SF Site Review: Year's Best Fantasy & Horror, 12th Annual Collection
SF Site Review: Silver Birch, Blood Moon
SF Site Review: Black Swan, White Raven
SF Site Review: Year's Best Fantasy & Horror, 11th Annual Collection
SF Site Review: Year's Best Fantasy & Horror: 10th Annual Collection
SF Site Review: Fairy Tale Anthologies

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling have published several novels and anthologies based on mythological and folkloric themes. In The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest, they tackle the topic of the titular figure which appears throughout pre-Christian (and post-Christian) folklore in Europe, as well as in the lore of other cultures around the world. Although the stories in The Green Man are ostensibly aimed at a young adult audience, many of the stories are equally enjoyable by adults who are not so young any more.

There are several strong stories in the anthology, including Jeffrey Ford's "The Green Word," M. Shayne Bell's "The Pagodas of Ciboure," Emma Bull's "Joshua Tree," and Charles de Lint's "Somewhere in My Mind There is a Painting Box." Other stories, while not necessarily as strong, are still well worth reading, and most of them manage to avoid the trap of creating an image of the nobility of nature against the savagery of man.

Perhaps because the theme of the anthology is mythic in nature, the three poems the editors have chosen to include, by Neil Gaiman, Jane Yolen, and Bill Lewis, perfectly reflect different aspects of the theme and heighten the legendary feeling of the anthology as a whole.

Jeffrey Ford brings a unique combination of Christianity and paganism, along with some old fashioned high fantasy to the theme in his story of King Pious and the remnants of the resistance movement led by the martyred Moren Kairn. In the story, Ford builds a world in which nature responds to the intentions and actions of the people who make use of it, treating King Pious very differently than it treats Kairn's daughter, Alyessa. Bell also demonstrates the reciprocal treatment by nature with the symbiotic relationship which forms between the young Maurice Ravel and the strange pagodas he encounters in France who, eventually, help cure his various childhood maladies when he protects them from predators.

Many of the authors use the mystical quality of nature as an allegory for coming of age, perhaps more notably in Emma Bull's "Joshua Tree" in which Tabetha Sikorsky learns that it is more important to find her true self than to simply pretend to be the person other people expect her to be. A similar lesson is learned by the narrator of Delia Sherman's "Grand Central Park," who gets separated by her friend, Elf, and finds herself face to face with a real elf. The encounter allows her to accept herself for what she is.

Because the legend of the Green Man is so old, it is, perhaps, natural that some of the authors would take the opportunity to recast traditional stories. Gregory Maguire retells Jack and the Beanstalk from the point of view of Jack's mother and his younger brother (also named Jack). Michael Cadnum takes a portion of the Greek myth of Daphne and retells it in a more modern vein, explaining how the philandering of the various Greek gods looked to their victims.

Frequently, the authors featured in The Green Man use some form of humor in the story, although it tends to be more subtle. In "Grand Central Park," for instance, Sherman posits a young girl in a contest with the queen of the fairies. What sets this scenario apart from so many similar ones is that Sherman's character knows the stories about the fairies and can plan accordingly. In "Fee, Fie, Foe, et Cetera," Gregory Maguire retells the traditional story of Jack and the Beanstalk in a manner which is guaranteed to remind the reader of E. Everett Horton reading a Fractured Fairy Tale on the old Rocky and His Friends show.

Although bookstores will most likely shelve The Green Man in the children's or young adult section, it is a book which could, and perhaps should, be found in the folklore or the general fiction section. The stories are well-written and manage to speak to both the intellect and the emotions. While some of the tales may be a little too environmentally conscious, most of them present nature without a maudlin, but rather with a mystical, texture.

Table of Contents
Neil Gaiman Going Wodwo (poem)
Delia Sherman Grand Central Park
Michael Cadnum Daphne
Charles de Lint Somewhere in My Mind There is a Painting Box
Tanith Lee Among the Leaves So Green
Jane Yolen Song of the Cailleach Bheur (poem)
Patricia A. McKillip Hunter's Moon
Midori Snyder Charlie's Away
Katherine Vaz A World Painted by Birds
Nina Kiriki Hoffman Grounded
Carol Emshwiller Overlooking
Gregory Maguire Fie, Fi, Fo, Fum
Emma Bull Joshua Tree
Carolyn Dunn Ali anugne o chash (the boy who was)
Kathe Koja Remnants
M. Shayne Bell The Pagodas of Ciboure
Bill Lewis The Green Man (poem)
Jeffrey Ford The Green Word

Copyright © 2002 Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is a four-time Hugo Nominee for Best Fan Writer and the editor of the anthologies Wondrous Beginnings, Magical Beginnings, and Horrible Beginnings (DAW Books, January, February and March, 2003). In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is heavily involved in convention running and publishes the fanzine Argentus.

SearchContents PageSite MapContact UsCopyright

If you find any errors, typos or other stuff worth mentioning, please send it to
Copyright © 1996-2014 SF Site All Rights Reserved Worldwide