Riddle of the Trumpalar

I mentioned in my last post that Lord of the Rings was not my first conscious experience of speculative fiction. I know that I had read some before I got to that point. The first book that I can consciously remember reading that counts as fantasy is The Riddle of the Trumpalar, by Judy Bernard-Waite (who I know now was not one but three people).

Oh how I loved this book with all my heart. I’m afraid to go back to it now, for fear of the suck fairy, but it had a powerful pull on the childhood imagination of me. Twins, living in Sydney, get sucked into a Moreton Bay fig, where they meet the Trumpalar, who is not quite your normal living-in-a-tree dryad figure… and then up end spat out in the early Sydney colony, and have to help out one of their (maybe convict? I forget. Probably Irish) ancestors.

It’s a little bit Playing Beattie Bow, really, isn’t it? I bet they all came out round about the bicentenary.

Anyway: twins! time travel! even history! (although I didn’t know I loved history at that stage.) I was living in the tropics at the time so I didn’t know Moreton Bay figs from a rose, but since moving south – as an adult! – I’ve had a bit of a Thing for them. And let’s be honest here, an enigmatic figure living in a tree rather predisposed me to fall in love with Legolas and Lothlorien. I remember really enjoying the interaction of the twins – a boy and a girl – with each other and with their ancestor. My fuzzy memory tells me that their parents were actually alive and both around, although of course they lived in the present – but their mum in particular was cool. The Trumpalar I also don’t remember very clearly, although the picture above – which was the copy that I had – also made a strong impression on me. Check out that flowing grey hair! The strength and nobility of that nose! He may have had a book-lined study inside the tree… or maybe that was just my imagination.

I blame this as the beginning of my affair with fantasy. Thanks, all three of you, Judy Bernard-Waite.

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