The Buried Giant – book review

The Buried Giant – book review

Today I would like to talk to you about a book I’ve recently finished reading : The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro. This is by no means a comprehensive review – it’s only my personal opinion and  I will try to keep it concise (and spoiler-free).


I will start by saying that I read Never Let Me Go and the Remains of The Day by Kazuo Ishiguro and I loved both of them, therefore I was really excited about The Buried Giant, especially as I had heard that it contains some fantasy elements (apparently, it is debatable whether it’s a fantasy novel or not, so I will not go into those details). The premise is quite interesting:  an elderly couple, Axl and Beatrice go on a quest to find their son (this happens in a post-Arthurian alternate Britain, where all sorts of fantasy creatures like ogres and pixies wander about). Moreover, the most intriguing element is the fact that there’s a strange “mist” that causes some sort of amnesia, making people forget both recent events and things that had happened in the distant past. While reading the book I had this odd feeling of uneasiness, that I interpreted as a reflection of the characters’ own confusion and faded memories. The experience felt as if reading through a pair of blurry glasses (if that makes any sense) , making me feel bewildered at times.


In regards to the style and execution, I must say I was not a huge fan of the language employed by the characters: I thought it was too formal and polite (annoyingly so at times), and that really detracted me from the story. It was also repetitive, but I do understand how this made sense in the story (the characters kept on forgetting different things and asking the same questions repeatedly). Although I like the idea of the protagonists being elderly, I found the character development of Axl and Beatrice to fall a little flat. It saddens me that I could not connect with them but I did like the depiction of their relationship. “(For) I suppose there’s some would hear my words and think our love flawed and broken. But God will know the slow tread of an old couple’s love for each other, and understand how black shadows make part of its whole.


So, as you may have inferred (or not), the entire novel centers around this theme of memory and memory loss both on a personal level, and on a societal level. The question we get to ask ourselves is: is it better to forget and move on, or to face the past, with its moments of ecstasy and its moments of horror. In this sense, the buried giant is a symbol of what we all keep hidden inside, as people and as a society. At least that’s how I interpreted it.

All in all, I would recommend picking this book up (if you do, I would LOVE to have a discussion on it, especially about the ending, so please feel free to comment), as I assure you it will prove to be an interesting experience. It is not action-packed as you’d might expect, but it is full of symbols and meanings worth exploring. On you can find all of Ishiguro’s books, both in English and Romanian.

sig S

 P.S.: All the photos are taken by me during my visit to Thassos Island. I thought the fog surrounding Mount Ipsarion perfectly conveys the atmosphere of the book. If you read the book, you will see how perfectly these pics match the story.

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  1. Anaivilo

    You have a way of describing books that instantly trigger a craving to read not only this book, but any book! – I really need to start reading again, I’ve been neglecting this for far too long..

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