This is a chronicle of the reversion to paganism and worship of the ancient god Pan in a small out-of-the-way English village. Already a bastion against the onset of industrialisation that is transforming the rest of the country, a place that has changed little in the last century, if there is anywhere that might reject modern trends completely, this is it; the village of Wolding.
But not if one man has his way. The vicar of Wolding senses the changes coming and knows that it is young Tommy Duffin who sneaks out at night and plays his reed pipes upon the hill, a melody that turns people's thoughts away from the things that they should be on, away from the things that they should hold dear. But the vicar seems to be powerless to do anything to stop it. Whichever quarter he turns to for help fails him. But what can he do alone to stem this tide? Gradually, one by one, the people of the village go over to the other side.
This book explores the tensions between the old and the new, tradition and change, the things we know and the things we don't, between the generations and between mankind's ways of dominating or living in harmony with nature.
Once again I am astounded by the elegant writing of Lord Dunsany. There's something about his way of putting things, his turn of phrase that I find aesthetically pleasing. I know I keep giving each of Dunsany's books five stars but they all deserve it (so far).