Lord Dunsany's The Book of Wonder consists of several short stories set in a strange fantasy land, each one telling the story of a character's adventure and their often grim fate. Three of these episodes, "Distressing Tale of Thangobrind the Jeweller," "The Hoard of the Gibbelins," and "How Nuth Would Have Practised His Art Upon the Gnoles," tell stories of men trying to steal treasure from different types of creatures and beasts. Each character suffers from the flaws of pride and greed. For instance, Thangobrind the Jeweller is commissioned to steal the Dead Man's Diamond from a horrible spider-idol and only thinks that "business is business." Before going on his quest to steal treasure from the Gibbelins, The Knight Alderic in "The Hoard of the Gibbelins":

pondered so long upon the Gibbelin's hoard that by now he deemed it his. Alas that I should say of so perilous a venture, undertaken at dead of night by a valourous man, that its motive was sheer avarice!

Similarly, in the story of the thief Nuth, his apprentice becomes "insane with pride" and accompanies Nuth on a foolish and dangerous job to steal from the gnoles. In the end, the three characters all meet similar and untimely fates at the end of their adventures.

Questions

1. How are the characters in each story punished for their greed and pride? Are they given fair warning of their punishments?

2. Are these three short stories similar to the other stories we have read? For example, consider the brothers from "King of the Golden River" by John Ruskin and "The Doom That Came to Sarnath" by H. P. Lovecraft.

3. In the stories about Thangobrind and Nuth, the word "business" appears many times. Does its use seem ironic in any way?


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Last modified 5 April 2004