Saturday, December 28, 2013

the key

The Key, by Simon Toyne is the SECOND book in a trilogy. Why have I virtually yelled the word 'second'? Why, because I didn't know that this was the second in a trilogy before I read it. Because the publisher, or the cover artist, or someone, didn't think it was necessary to tell me that, somewhere convenient--like on the cover, on the title page... somewhere.

I'm reading along thinking, this is interesting, there seems to be a lot of backstory here, I guess Simon'll get to it at some point.

He did.

In book one. here's me making the church lady face

ANYways, Toyne does a pretty good job in this one. It trucks right along and the characters are pretty good, although you can see how they'll fulfill their preordained-action-adventure rolls from the moment you meet them. Not that I'm finding fault, we read the same stories over and over and we love them. Joseph Campbell, I'm looking at you... well, I'm looking in your direction, sort of

As I mentioned earlier, there is a fair amount of reference to the earlier story, which I now know is called Sanctus, (the third is called The Tower). Based on the references and this book, Ill probably look for the others, but probably not tomorrow. Toyne has developed a dark and occultish past for the church, with links to paganism and mysticism, that stretches back to the beginnings of mankind. Dark little tendrils of this past are still visible and active the church today, and Toyne weaves a interesting story based on the secrecy surrounding some aspects of the church, such as its archives, that others like Dan Brown have done before. These are the kinds of things that make reasonable people say hmm, and helps to suspend disbelief enough to enjoy a story like this.

Here's a tangent: If the church is opposed to mysticism and mythology, why are there dragons, and other mythical and mystical beasts and icons decorating Saint Peters at the Vatican? And if one of the commandments states that there is only one god, why is Saint Peters just lousy with statutes of Athena and other gods and goddesses? I'm not finding fault, I'm only pointing out that there is probably more room for discussion than hardliners would have us believe.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

watership down

Was Watership Down one of those books folks had to read in middle school? I seem to recall hearing about this story when I was a kid, but maybe that's because of the cartoon they made based on the book. The book was originally published in 1972, and the movie came out in 1978 with the voice of John Hurt in the lead. Watership Down was pegged as the most violent PG-rated movie, ever. dude, the pictures are pretty grim The book and the movie are both English. The author, Richard Adams, won two prestigious children's book awards in England for the story: the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize. He began by telling the story to his daughters, Juliet and Rosamond, who later convinced him to write the story that became Watership Down.

The story of Watership Down is a story of rabbits. Regular ol' rabbits that chew on grass, live in warrens, and hop about. What Adams makes clear pretty quickly is that rabbits can not only communicate with each other--in a language folks just don't understand--but they also have a society, hierarchy, traditions, and even mythology, which enjoys a rich oral tradition. Adams portrays rabbits as every bit as intelligent, complex and thoughtful as humans. He has also woven their natural, outward behaviors into their personalities so that the illusion is complete. A child, after reading this story, could look at a few rabbits nibbling away at some dandelions in a field and imagine that complex plots and strategies were well under way.

Things appear to be going along well at the warren where Hazel and Fiver live, but Fiver is suddenly quite sure that this is not the case. See, Fiver has these episodes (as some rabbits do) where he sort of zones out and catches glimpses of the future. And the future he sees for their warren, just after some men place a large wooden sign at the edge of their field by the road, is not so bright. Murder, death and mayhem is what he sees and then the story is off at a romp.

This a long story, and a good one. I was surprised at how quickly the fact that I was reading about rabbits faded away and I just began to enjoy the story. It's not that the rabbit's collective rabbit-ness was absent, it wasn't, in fact it was pretty central. What faded quickly was the feeling that reading about rabbits in the first place, was anything but natural. You'll have to trust me on that one.

Fun, surprising, violent more than you'd imagine in places and good!

Read this book.