This novel was the next pick for me from the "The Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series". The book was written in 1922, and made the list in 1969, reportedly, when there was a resurgence of interest in Tolkien's works. It is a heroic adventure, and 'High Fantasy,' ; the plot revolves around civilizations on the planet Mercury, and the great battles between the kingdoms of Witchland and of Demonland.
E.R. Eddison wrote of it, "It is neither allegory nor fable but a Story to be read for it's own sake." I certainly didn't find any great moral themes or any such thing in it, and it rather reminded me of Beowulf, or some great epic from Wagner. The prose is sweeping and romantic, the characters either courageous or villianous, and only the adventures truly matter.
A few excerpts to give you an idea of E.R. Eddison's style:
"...the first low beams of the sun smote javelin-like through the eastern windows, and the freshness of morning breathed and shimmered in that lofty chamber, chasing the blue and dusky shades of departed night to the corners and recesses, and to the rafters of the vaulted roof. Surely no potentate of the earth, not Croesus, not the great King, not Minos in his royal palace in Crete, not all the Pharaohs, not Queen Semiramis, nor all the Kings of Babylon and Nineveh had ever a throne room to compare in glory with that high presence chamber of the Lords of Demonland."
"As the rustling of dry leaves strewn in a flagged court when a sudden wind striketh them, there went a stir among the guests. Nor might the Lord Spitfire contain his wrath, but springing up and clapping a hand to his sword-hilt, as minded to do a hurt to the Ambassador,
'Province?' he cried. 'Are not the Demons a free people? And is it to be endured that Witchland should commission this slave to cast insults in our teeth, and this in our own castle?'...
But Lord Brandoch Daha, lightly laying his hand on Spitfire's arm, said:
'The Ambassador hath not ended his message, cousin, and thou hast frightened him. Have patience and spoil not the comedy. We shall not lack words to answer King Gorice: no, nor swords, if he must have them. But it shall not be said of us of Demonland that it needeth but a boorish message to turn us from our ancient courtesy toward ambassadors and heralds.'"
It is long, repetitive, and old in it's style and language but for me it was a chance to revisit the style of writing and plot that I once read as a child; legends of old, pagan in theme, only now refreshed; more enchanting and daring, more dangerous, more mighty in scope, and even more beautiful.