Sunday, 5 November 2017

TEMPERATE TO THE MAX!!! - The Legend of Sir Guyon FQ Book 2 Canto 1

How the hell do you tell a story where the main character is Mister Reasonable?

Add sex, drugs, dead girls and blood-smeared babies.

Think this is Walter Crane

We start this Canto with Archimagos escape from prison, his finding of Duessa (she's living in caves and wearing moss) and their scheme to, yet again, dick Redcrosse around;

"And forth he fares full of malicious mind,"

BUT - things do not go the customary way for Archimago, as we shall see.

Firstly - Redcrosse is now slightly less stupid;

"By now so wise and wary was the knight
By triall of his former harmes and cares,
That he descride, and shonned still his slight:
The fish that once was caught, new bait will hardly bite."

After his experience with Spensers killer Dming Redcrosse has presumably either graduated to the safety of storygames or is just murdering every suspiciously innocent old man he meets.

So, Archimago (also, I recently found out that Wikipedia thiks this is the first use of 'Archmage'. Spenser probably meant it to mean 'First Image' or something like it, and its probably/possibly a metaphor for the Catholic church. So that's where 'Archmage' comes from) Archimago can't fool Redcrosse any more but he can find some other mark.

Enter Guyon.

There is nothing physically interesting or remarkable about Guyon so far, except that he travels with an Aged Palmer who finds his way slowly on foot, with a staff;

"And ever with slow pace the knight did lead,
Who taught his trampling steed with equal steps to tread."

Not sure of the Artist
Oh Archimago

We then get a classic Archimago/Duessa scene where they try to get Guyon to attack Redcrosse.

Which almost works. But at the last minute Guyon decides he can't strike the image of the cross on Redcross's shield, and Redcrosse recognises Guyon and can't strike the image of Mary on his shield. So they stop and calm down.

Then they shake hands, agree to be friends and go their seperate ways.


That takes us to the middle of a Canto.

This reminds me a lot of the introduction of a new superhero in a fresh book or as a side-story in someone elses book. There's almost always a scene where they encounter an older or alrady-popular hero whos possibly a bit like them, then they either fight, or deal with some problem together. The new hero approaches the problem in a way which is clearly a bit different to the old hero, but also wins thier approval.

This does a lot of stuff in serial story terms. It links the new hero to the old one, they are part of the same universe. It makes it ok for fans of the old one to like the new one, because they have been OK'd by the classic, and it marks them out in an individual way as being a 'bit different'.

Anyway, that's the middle of the Canto. Now we start Sir Guyons first real adventure.


Sir Guyon (and his Palmer) hear a cry from the woods.

The cry is two verses long and its a woman crying for death and saying she's leaving her baby behind.

Guyon "from his tall steed, he rust into the thicke," and finds;

  • A hot girl, suicided with a knife to the heart.
  • She's gushing loads of blood.
  • There's a baby.
  • The baby is playing with the blood.
  • There's also a dead knight.
  • He's smiling.

I do like it when things turn Giallo.

There is a good verse about the overpowering strength of Guyons heroic emotions;

"At last his mighty ghost gan deep to grone,
As Lyon grudging in his great distain,
Mournes inwardly, and makes himself moan:"

Guyon tries to stop the bleeding;

"What direfull chance, armd with revenging fate,
Or cursed hand hath plaid this cruell part,
Thus fowle to hasten your untimely date;
Speak, O deare Lady speake: help never comes too late."

But it actually is too late as the Lady only has time to tell her sad story before dying;

  • She was totally into this knight here (Sir Mortdant).
  • He left her to go off seeking adventure.
  • But "Me he left enwombed of this child,"
  • He "come, where vile Acrissa does wonne," (Acrissa - greek for 'Without Control' according to the Penguin edition notes.
  • Acrissa is a hot sexy enchantress who floats about in a mgic island called 'The Bowre of Bliss' where she pervs up Knights with "Words and weeds of wonderous might".
  • The Lady gets her knight back, after wandering pregnant through the world.
  • They are leaving when Acrissa curses him, as soon as he drinks he dies.
  • Thus, the Lady gets Despair and stabs herself.

She then dies. Guyon has a conversation with his Palmer about burying them both, which I didn't entirely parse.

Guyon cuts part of everyones hair, mixes it with the womans blood and throws it into the grave and we end with a classic super-oath of vengance and justice, 'the dead knights sword out of his sheath he drew'.

It's Sir Guyon verses Acrissa, and he's going to take her the fuck down, in the most temperate way possible!

End Canto.

Some favourite references this canto; Archimago still as his "sutil engines" and "well filed tongue". No Phoebus mentions so far.

Things we know about Sir Guyon;

Hangs out with a black-clad Palmer (who is definitely not Archimago*)
Has Mary on his shield
His first actions are to not fight Redcrosse and to try to heal someone.

*You never know...


  1. "There's also a dead knight.
    He's smiling."

    I am definitely going to use this somewhere, it is just too effective of introduction of mystery to leave it unused.

  2. Archimago could mean "lie(r) from the begining" (i.e. Satan himself), being arché "(from the) begining" (cfr 70 bereshit -> en arché) and imago "image, mere image, falsehood"