“Travel Light is the story of Halla, a girl born to a king but cast out onto the hills to die. She lives among bears; she lives among dragons. But the time of dragons is passing, and Odin All-Father offers Halla a choice: Will she stay dragonish and hoard wealth and possessions, or will she travel light?”
—Amal El-Mohtar, NPR, You Must Read This
Read the new Introduction.
Read the first two chapters.
Travel Light is a short, fabulous book that transports readers from a cave in the forest to a dragon’s lair to the wonders of early Constantinople. It is dense yet light, happy, deep, sad, amazing, and short enough that once it’s read all at once you’ll have time to read it again.
This tale of a marvelous journey by the late Naomi Mitchison is the second novel in the Small Beer Press Peapod Classics reprint line. Back in June 2001 (long before this reprint line was ever imagined) Small Beer published Gavin J. Grant wrote a short piece for F&SF on Travel Light:
“… a wonderful story that will transport you into Halla’s world where a basilisk might be met in the desert, heroes are taken to Valhalla by Valkyries, and a fortune might be made with a word to the right horse.”
“A 78-year-old friend staying at my house picked up Travel Light, and a few hours later she said, ‘Oh, I wish I’d known there were books like this when I was younger!’ So, read it now—think of all those wasted years!”
—Ursula K. Le Guin, author of A Wizard of Earthsea
“A gem of a book.”
— Strange Horizons
“Every page is full of magic and wonder…. well worth seeking out.”
“Combines the best of Rowling and Pullman, being full of magic and fantasy with the hard edge of reality sharp at its edges.”
— The New Review/LauraHird.com
“Disarmingly familiar, like a memory only half-recalled. You will love this book.”
— Holly Black (Doll Bones, The Spiderwick Chronicles)
Praise for Naomi Mitchison:
“No one knows better how to spin a fairy tale than Naomi Mitchison.” — The Observer
“Mitchison breathes life into such perennial themes as courage, forgiveness, the search for meaning, and self-sacrifice.” —Publishers Weekly
“She writes enviably, with the kind of casual precision which … comes by grace.” — Times Literary Supplement
“One of the great subversive thinkers and peaceable transgressors of the twentieth century…. We are just catching up to this wise, complex, lucid mind that has for ninety-seven years been a generation or two ahead of her time.” — Ursula K. Le Guin
“Her descriptions of ritual and magic are superb; no less lovely are her accounts of simple, natural things — water-crowfoot flowers, marigolds, and bright-spotted fish. To read her is like looking down into deep warm water, through which the smallest pebble and the most radiant weed shine and are seen most clearly; for her writing is very intimate, almost as a diary, or an autobiography is intimate, and yet it is free from all pose, all straining after effect; she is telling a story so that all may understand, yet it has the still profundity of a nursery rhyme.
— Hugh Gordon Proteus, New Statesman and Nation
About the Author:
Naomi Mitchison, author of over 70 books, died in 1999 at the age of 101. She was born in and lived in Scotland but traveled widely throughout the world. In the 1960s she was adopted as adviser and mother of the Bakgatla tribe in Botswana. Her books include historical fiction, science fiction, poetry, autobiography, and nonfiction, the most popular of which are The Corn King and the Spring Queen, The Conquered, and Memoirs of a Spacewoman.
First published in the UK by Faber and Faber in 1952. Reprinted: Virago Press, 1985; Penguin, 1987.