Alan Garner has often claimed to be motivated, as a writer, by anger - which he present as a righteous anger on behalf of others. But the sad reality is that he is all-too-often motivated by ressentiment: Nietzsche's term for a selfish, brooding, envy and spite - resentment, a kind of pride.
My conviction is that Garner began, all-but free of resentment - so in the first two books (Weirdstone of Brisingamen, Moon of Gomrath) it is absent. But it makes an appearance in Elidor as class consciousness - and, for me, significantly mars that book.
But with The Owl Service, which was written next - and perhaps because it is set in Wales rather than Garner's native Cheshire, giving distance - the ressentiment is taken-up into the story; and is overcome triumphantly in one of the best endings of any book, ever.
Consequently, the Owl Service is the summit of Garner's achievement - a 'perfect' (ie. unimproveable) book for older children to set alongside the greatest in that genre.
With Red Shift, the ressentiment returns in force, with endless brooding-on, depiction-of, the problems of a working class intellectual (i.e. Garner himself, or how he sees himself). And the pretentiousness of writing style (belated late modernism - of the Ezra Pound, Basil Bunting type) becomes solidified and inescapable.
His last novel, Boneland, ends with a categorical repudiation (to me, a betrayal) of the vision of his early novels - consigning them to a psychotherapeutic pseudo-reality.
After all, in the end - Garner's great gifts and vision and dedication and honesty are all overwhelmed by his lack of spiritual development - by his spiritual degeneration through adulthood. Since the writing is constrained by the man; how could it be otherwise?
Nobody - through a long life - not the genius artist - not anybody; can escape the malign consequences of rejecting God, of setting oneself against God...