Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Wild Hunt

Legendary supernatural hunt which pursues and tears Souls. Alternative names include the Cornish "Devil's Dandy Dogs", Dartmoor's "Wish Hounds" or "Yell Hounds" and the Welsh "Cwn Annwn" or hounds of Hell (these signal rather than cause death). The WH takes to the skies as the "Gabriel Hounds", "Gabriel Ratchets" or simply the "Host", tireless and inescapable as Fate. Quatermass and the Pit gives the WH a Technofantasy rationale rooted in race memory. In straight fantasy it is generally linked with the stag-antlered Herne the Hunter, versions of whom lead the WH in tales such as: Alan Garner's The Moon of Gomrath (1963), whose hunters' sheer love of bloodshed horrifies those they save; Penelope Lively's The Wild Hunt of Hagworthy (1971), where the spirit of the hunt infects young morris dancers; Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising (1973), which effectively invokes the WH to disperse the forces of Evil; and Diana Wynne Jones's Dogsbody (1975), whose hunt-Master, a sad but powerful Underworld figure, repeatedly offers himself as his own dogs' prey. The WH is perhaps too frequently used as a Plot Device lacking the appropriate sense of danger: the warning that this is an uncontrollable manifestation of Old, Wild or Earth Magic is more often issued than followed through; one notable exception is Guy Gavriel Kay's The Wandering Fire (1986), where the WH is summoned and impartially begins to slaughter both foes and allies. Further novels featuring the WH include Jean Morris's The Troy Game (1987), Charles de Lint's Greenmantle (1988), Brian Stableford's Storm Warriors * (1991), Tom Deitz's Dreamseeker's Road (1995) and Jane Yolen's The Wild Hunt (1995). [DRL]

see also: Sarban.

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.