The Free State of Dorimare was a very small country, but, seeing that it was bounded on the south by the sea and on the north and east by mountains, while its centre consisted of a rich plain, watered by two rivers, a considerable variety of scenery and vegetation was to be found within its borders. Indeed, towards the west, in striking contrast with the pastoral sobriety of the central plain, the aspect of the country became, if not tropical, at any rate distinctly exotic. Nor was this to be wondered at, perhaps; for beyond the Debatable Hills (the boundary of Dorimare in the west) lay Fairyland. There had, however, been no intercourse between the two countries for many centuries.
The social and commercial centre of Dorimare was its capital, Lud-in-the-Mist, which was situated at the confluence of two rivers about ten miles from the sea and fifty from the Elfin Hills.
Lud-in-the-Mist had all the things that make an old town pleasant. It had an ancient Guild Hall, built of mellow golden bricks and covered with ivy and, when the sun shone on it, it looked like a rotten apricot; it had a harbour in which rode vessels with white and red and tawny sails; it had flat brick houses—not the mere carapace of human beings, but ancient living creatures, renewing and modifying themselves with each generation under their changeless antique roofs. It had old arches, framing delicate landscapes that one could walk into, and a picturesque old graveyard on the top of a hill, and little open squares where comic baroque statues of dead citizens held levees attended by birds and lovers and insects and children.
It had, indeed, more than its share of pleasant things; for, as we have seen, it had two rivers.
Also, it was plentifully planted with trees.
I’ve just posted the first chapter of Lud-in-the-Mist so that those of you who haven’t read it can get a sense of the book’s tone and rhythm. There’s some angst about the novel’s copyright status—it was published four years after the magical cutoff for U.S. exemption and was originally published in the UK and has been in the public domain and then out again—so I’ve held off posting any till now.
Thing is, there are several small presses and print-on-demand outfits selling awful (ugly, typo-ridden, ill-printed) copies on Amazon without troubling themselves about copyright, so I’ve decided to publish this chapter here and suggest that you purchase the authorized and very reasonably printed edition published by Gollancz in the UK for a good reading experience.