Horwood, William - Hyddenworld 4, Winter (ENG)

Lees de Nederlandse versie


Read the other three leeservaringen

concerning this Hyddenworld Series:





I read the last part of the Hyddenworld-quadrilogy of William Horwood, Winter, almost three months ago now. Sure I’ve been busy with worldly affairs, but that didn’t stop me from reading ten other books in the meantime. No, my postponing the writing of this ‘leeservaring’ had a different cause. I feared that I would not be able to capture the profound and deep experience I had while reading this book. It is not just the many and complex storylines that run through these four books, or the ingenious way they intertwine and connect. It is mainly the surrealistic character of certain elements and of the finale of this book, that I’m sure cannot be retold properly in a short text such as this.


How, for instance, do I explain what ‘wyrd’ truly means? I gave it a try in my ‘leeservaring’ of Harvest, the third part of this series. Or how can one really show the importance and the meaning of musica universalis? Winter starts off with a description when we meet Bedwyn Stort on the first pages, on the coast of Pendower, where we left him at the ending of Harvest. It says:


“he understood that since all things of Earth and Universe are vivified by a common energy or harmony, which wise folk call mucisa universalis, everything, however incidental it might seem, has a bearing on the whole.” 


Is it then the energy and the harmony between the earth and the universe? Yes, but it is much more than that. And that’s just it, that ‘more’ that the reader receives in numerous flashes like a single word or a look from one of the characters, or a description by the teller. It is that ‘more’ that gives musica universalis or the Mirror-of-All that weight of deeper meaning and understanding, that cannot possibly be explained. About Bedwyn Stort it says in the beginning of this book:


“Like most hydden, he believed in the Mirror-of-All, in whose vast universal reflection we live our lives, as smaller parts of the whole, which is to say as reflections which come and go.” 


Such a ‘definition’ is utterly unsatisfactory for one who has read the four books, where the concept of the Mirror-of-All is gradually revealed piece by piece.


The frustration that I feel when trying to describe this monumental and beautiful series, is nicely illustrated in a scene in which Stort tells Jack and Katherine that the gem of Winter will surely be found.


“It is simply a matter of replacing one reflection with another!”

“Meaning?” said the ever-persistent Jack.

“Yes, meaning?” challenged Katherine.

“I have no idea,” said Stort, exasperated. “You always want specifics and they rarely exist until they’re really needed.” 


In my ‘leeservaring’ of Harvest I took the liberty and space to shed some light on a few storylines and backgrounds of the hyddenworld. Now I force myself not to repeat that. The wood splinters that I can offer the reader, don't do justice at all to the majesty of the tree that is formed by these four books. 


The quest for the fourth and last of the gems, the one bound to the winter season, takes up most of the time of the company of Bedwyn Stort, Katherine, Jack, Niklas Blut and Slaeke Sinistral. The inexplicable violence of nature, that we already encountered in Harvest, is getting worse. Also time is becoming increasingly unreliable. Hydden and humans ‘lose’ whole hours, that simply seem not to have taken place. The End of Days is approaching rapidly. These anomalies occur in the human world as well, where chaos and anarchy rule. The paths of hydden and humans cross one another now occasionally, something that hasn’t happened for ages. 


Nobody doubts that the fall of Mother Earth is caused by humans. The main question Stort asks is: “is what humans have done to our Mother Earth reversible? Or is it too late?” In the end he will get his answer, even though that happens after the End of Days has taken place. 


The second part of this book – the last 80 or so pages – is titled: Stort’s Final Journey. It tells us the beautiful story of a man who is being shot on a November day in Dallas in 1963. He survives, as do the important people in the car, for whom the bullets were intended. The man suffers from severe amnesia. He doesn’t know who he is or where he is. After he is recovered he ends up in a mental home, where he is diagnosed with: 


“being prone to anxiety and mild depression with associated delusions. He seemed to think he had something important to do that might, as he put it, ‘change the human world’ but he didn’t know what it was.” 


He is very strongly attached to his handmade boots, from which he derives his nickname: Mister Boots. His whole life Mister Boots keeps looking for that important thing he must do, but it will not come to him. He is extremely intelligent and learns languages very fast, and he has many other talents. He has a remarkable life and when he has reached high age, he suddenly remembers who he is. He is Bedwyn Stort and a hydden. He also remembers what it is he has to do.


At this point I’ll say, as I do in most of my leeservaringen: whereto this will lead the reader will have to find out for himself. I could tell you more about the many storylines in the four books, that all come together in this book. But not merely from these books, also some notes played in his other books, resonate here. I’ll name one example.


In all Hyddenworld books the hydden Barklice plays the role of route finder. Where ever the company ends up, Barklice always manages to find the right path and the route to their destination. Such a character also makes an appearance in Duncton Quest, the second of Horwood’s mole novels. I am referring of course to Mayweed. He is the route finder for Tryfan on their many quests. At the end of this wondrous story Tryfan is heavily wounded and blinded and left to die by his enemies. Mayweed finds him and Tryfan asks him if he can lead the way one last time. And so Mayweed does as Tryfan dies. In Winter Stort, aka Mister Boots, is so old that he can hardly walk anymore. He has to climb a hill, though, and finds Barklice at his side. 


“‘The time’s come for our last journey together and I intend to guide you well and make it a good one,’ said Barklice warmly.”


Instead of summarizing a few of the many story lines, I acknowledged that this couldn’t be done. This book is too beautiful and too special to be summarized. Read the series and be amazed by the tenderness and honesty of the main characters, by the wisdom of the author and by the beauty of his language.


Read in December 2013