John Crowley and Crows

Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr is a deliberately puzzling title. It’s about a crow who gets the name Dar Oakley through a series of adventures. He’s the first crow to ever have a name, and he claims to have invented names for crows. He’s born sometime in an apparently Celtic world – I never made this specific even to myself – about 2,000 years ago, sometime before the British invasion of Gaul. He was born into a realm where there were no people, because humans had not yet reached there. Very soon in his young years, when human populations start to come into the area, he is fascinated by them and by the kind of things they do – building fires, building houses, run­ning around on two legs, and above all having battles with one another. Killing, but not eating, other humans. The crows cannot figure that part out, but they also realize they’ve discovered a treasure they couldn’t have conceived of. There is wealth beyond the dreams of gluttony laid out before them after these battles, and the humans are glad to have them eating the bodies, as long as it’s the enemy dead. He, Dar Oakley, feels he caused this bounty.

“Dar Oakley now has a big connection with humans, and because of his curious nature, he makes friends with a young human girl. Through a procedure that I think was the only reasonable possible one, they become able to communicate.”

— excerpt from an interview with John Crowley, Lotus Jan 2018