Friday, December 3, 2010
Books Read Of Late
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (and other poems,)by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Sitting down on a Sunday night to read the title poem and I was thrilled by Coleridge's descriptive and quotable prose.
"Water, water everywhere, - Nor any drop to drink"
I also enjoyed the long poem 'Christabel' which enchants but unfortunately was never finished. It opens the door of eerie possibilities and leaves us hanging. 'Kubla Khan' also dazzles with its luxurious (but not confusingly unpronounceable *see below) language. Part of the appeal for me beyond the prose was Coleridge's intent of making the supernatural seem tangible. These are deserved classics.
Tros of Samothrace, by Talbot Mundy
This was a strange one for me, in that I love historicals, druids battling Caesar is right up my alley-and while each chapter opens with a fragment of the High Druid Taliesin's wisdom (excellent snippets) and there were great characters and twists for some reason it took me forever to get through it-and it is a relatively short book. Something I can't put my finger on kept making me put it down and grab something else. (I started in June) I wonder if Tros is too self-righteous or if Mundy's prose is clever but sleep inducing? I've finished but still unsure of why this was such a difficult book to get through. I want to figure it out, because I need to be sure I don't ever write like Mundy. Great concept-sleepy delivery.
The Catilinarian Conspiracy, by Sallust
Sallust was a Roman praetor under Julius Caesar and the first governor of Numidia. As a Roman politician, he of course had friends and enemies and among them was Lucius Cataline a would-be usurper of the Roman republic (not long before Caesar himself-wink)
What I found most fascinating was the parallels (as Sallust tells us) between the oaths and conspiracy of Cataline and the Gadianton Robbers as I envision them in my own work. Cataline (like Akish-Antum, Lenin, Mao, Hitler, etc) surrounded himself with multitudes of the young, desperate and impressionable-I labeled the formula the "Lost Wolf Protocols" in Heroes of the Fallen.
Among the oaths he bound his followers to himself with was the drinking of bowls of human blood mixed with wine-that they would all be united to each other in solemn ritual and share the guilty knowledge of a dreadful deed-likely murder to begin with.
After an unsuccessful first attempt not unlike Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch, Cataline regrouped and went about after another route to power-manipulating the Roman Senate-when that failed-he went back to the politics from the barrel of a gun/sword philosophy.
After a number of battles and political maneuverings he was finally slain in battle-the similarities to men such as those listed above as well as Zerahemnah, Amalickiah and Giddianhi from the Book of Mormon are uncanny.
Black Colossus: CONAN graphic novel adaption, by Robert E. Howard, Tim Truman, Tomás Giorello
Among my favorite Conan tales are any with the color "Black" mentioned in the title. Truman's adaption takes a few liberties, but I don't recall anything that would upset the purists too much. I like Giorello's art, it is visceral, bloody and even risque at times-it captures the essence of the tale perfectly. Overall I think it is one of the better Dark Horse collections-but that might also be because it is one of my favorite stories anyway. The Conan movie is coming up next year-its too bad they didn't just film this instead of whatever nonsense they will cobble together.
Elric of Melnibone, by Michael Moorcock
I have meant to read Moorcock for years upon years, you would think I would have but no, never had until I read the Elric novella Red Pearls, last month in Swords and Dark Magic.
So I went back to start at the beginning and read the first Elric novel. I had a very hard time getting into it. The first few chapters were so much laboring and luxurious descriptions of Melnibone (Elric's kingdom) and not enough action. I was sorely tempted to put the book down numerous times, it wasn't until about chapter 4 or 5 that I really started enjoying it. The novel kept a good pace from then on and had wonderfully inventive magics and settings, BUT I still would not class Moorcock on par with so many other S&S authors. (even if Moorcock coined the term)
Because Moorcock's prose can be too much, the names are too exotic and confusing, I kept thinking he was trying too hard to be different, the unpronounceable names slowed a story that was already shuffling along.
I will still keep reading (I believe I have every Elric story in my library) but I am sure I am gonna read Howard, Leiber, Wagner and Gemmel before I get back to Moorcock.