Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Briefly Noted ...


Three books completed today.

The Ill-Made Mute, by Cecilia Dart-Thornton, is the first book of a fantasy-adventure trilogy. It's not bad. The characters are very broad, and the action bits aren't terribly thrilling, but there's a better-than-average sense of reality to the world brought on by the judicious use of an extensive vocabulary. On the other hand, there's also the occasional use of modern scientific terminology in the narration, which is somewhat jarring. Dart-Thornton uses Celtic myth and fairy lore a lot in this book, and while the story themselves are fine things, it does tend to undermine the feel of a true original fantasy world. That is, the myths and tales of this world don't seem integrated into the fantasy world; they're not re-imagined strongly enough. Still, it does make the book stand out from the hosts of other fantasy trilogies out there.

The Revenge of the Rose, by Michael Moorcock, is one of the later-day Elric books, an insertion into the original run of stories. It works well enough; Moorcock brings in characters from other series and books of his, connecting up his works in one great multiversal crossover. The writing's not terribly sharp or well-honed, as is often the case with Moorcock's fantasy fiction, and the philosophy the characters spout really isn't very well-integrated into the action. That is, the philosophies are in character, but I find that the fantastic elements don't go far enough towards reflecting or synthesising them into a meaningful myth. But the characters do come across as convincingly intelligent, too intelligent for the story in which they find themselves; as to compensate they become knowingly melodramatic. It's a lot of fun, in its way.

Last Chance to See... , by Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine, was published back in 1990. I hadn't read it in fifteen years. It's a survey of some of the most endangered species on the planet. It's interesting in its own right, but also interesting as an example of how Adams could make anything interesting. His style was incredibly well-honed and easy to read, extremely funny and incredibly informative at the same time. In a way, it seems that Adams missed his calling. He could have made a mint as a non-fiction writer, making difficult topics accessible and amusing. Mind you, the Hitchhiker's books are nothing to sneeze at, either.

1 comment:

Gareth said...

If you're interested, my blog Another Chance To See attempts to bring the stories of the Last Chance To See animals up-to-date with links to current news stories.