Axl and Beatrice are being denied a simple flame to keep them comfortable at night. They live in a mud cave of many chambers on the side of a hill amongst their small Briton community. Described as looking similar to a rabbit warren, the elderly couple have the smallest room. They seem to remember having lived in the center of the community, but now are at the end with the room connected to the community and the outside.
Beatrice hardly ever complains, but she feels the lack of a candle is disrespectful. Axl has intervened a couple of times when she brings up the fact to community leaders. Why are they denied light? Does the community feel they cannot be trusted to extinguish it before sleeping or leaving the room? Is this the way they are to be treated in their old age? Are they a foolish pair?
At night, when Axl and Beatrice lay down they are kept warm by many wool blankets. A mere candle would not add heat but would allow them to stay up a little later conversing. What is there to say, though? Axl and Beatrice are losing their memories and have little to talk about.
It is an odd thing, but the community is also forgetting even the smallest of events. Just last week, a little girl went missing and a search party was organized. The girl returned on her own a couple of hours later and her mother acted as if she was out tending the chickens and nothing more.
The search party came back after another couple of hours discussing some bird they saw while returning from a long forgotten quest. They joined the community at the great fire in the center of the warren to share the news of the wren eagle only to forget and start arguing over whether they saw shepherds on the hill during their return.
Beatrice has a theory. She thinks the shared forgetfulness is caused by the mist that surrounds the hill and the caves below. When it is thicker, all memory is erased and when it is thin she can at least remember her day and retell it to Axl.
It is because of this dishonor with the candle and the community forgetfulness that Axl and Beatrice decide to leave the warren for their son’s home far away. They feel they must go soon for they may forget they have a son and even lose his name.
The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro is his seventh book taking ten years to write. This author of The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go is stretching his talent by producing a never before told fantasy with amazing twists and turns that may make forgotten memories a blessing.