Recently I poked my nose into a local book group. I enjoy these kinds
of things so much. I wish I had the time and friendship group able to
undertake such a gathering regularly locally. (More on that to come next week.)
visited one or two book groups in the past but they have always read
and then wished to discuss my own books. This time I got to pick someone
else's book. And I chose Judith Tarr's The Lord of Two Lands.
|1700 Banyans 1700s The Metropolitan Museum of Art|
I've reviewed this book before and while I love it, Publisher's Weekly is not so kind.
At the book group we talked a great deal about Egyptian mythology and the history of
Alexander the Great. I realized that I appreciate this
book a more for having a working knowledge of both. (Speaking of here's The rise and fall of the Macedonian Empire in pictures.) I
now think a better book fro beginners not already vested in the history, that still tackles the changing ways of Ancient Egypt is the excellent YA novel Mara: Daughter of the Nile. So if you picked up The Lord of Two Lands and struggled with it, I urge you to try Mara instead.
Some of the things mentioned in the book discussion:
for Tarr's skill with description.
“Spirit goes sour fast in a harem.
It goes to wine or it goes to fat, or it takes to poisoning people.”
much wordage she "wastes" on side characters never to be seen again.
And yet it's still riveting. This is not something authors often can (or are
allowed to) get away with.
"He was old, thin-limbed but
heavy-bellied, in a coat so rich it seemed to parody itself: deep
crimson silk crusted with embroidery. He made Meriamon think of the
baboon in Thoth’s temple, irascible and holy, with his too-long arms and
his withered face."
- The concept of distance or legend writing. A
style particularly prevalent in fantasy where the reader is shown the
word as if through the mists of time, a slight fog that lends a lyrical
note to the writing but also a lack of intimacy. We
discussed the Mists of Avalon
as a prime example of this kind of writing. Some of the other readers
had a very hard time relating to Meriamon, the protagonist because of
this sensation. I did not. Possibly because one of my favorite books of
all time, The Forgotten Beast of Eld,
is a perfect example of this style of legend narrative. Just so we are clear,
this is not a style I feel comfortable writing myself. And when I have tried in
the past, it comes off as stilted. I do not have Tarr's deft had with
- The brevity with which Tarr can transmit profound
emotion amazes me. Niko, for example, is always described in
words of anger. And yet you are in no doubt of his profound love for
"“You’re sick.” Niko kept on holding her. Rocking her, even. His
face was never as gentle as his arm was, holding her in its curve,
cradling her in his lap. He looked furious."
- Tarr's use of short
punchy sentence structure, lots of fragments. Our love for the
character of Sekhmet the cat who is always characterized by this brevity.
"Sekhmet walked the length of her body,
- I spoke at length about how I
thought that due to the Egyptian concept of multiple souls and the
characterization of Meri's shadow, that Meri herself is constantly
walking the line between life and death. That her powers come from
that, as do her sacrifices. Her shadow leaves her when she is ill partly
because that line is so fragile. His presence as the scion of death
would hinder her recovery. Yet she is so accustomed to the other kind
of strength his presence transfers (that of bridging the gap, and spiritual power) that she
panics at his loss. This is a classic struggle in Ancient Greek plays
for the oracle archetype who is both profound, powerful, and damaged: Kassandra, for example, or the Blind Fates. In the male hero's
journey this can often take the form of physical travel to the underworld (a
brutal in-your-face metaphor), but the best female characters are
written into a chronic state between words. I see Meri, in many
ways, as a classic liminal character ~ treading between life and death,
male and female, Greek and Egyptian, fragile and strong.
is one of those times when I want to sit the author down and ask her
about her intent.
Was Tarr aware of accessing these tropes or is it me
reading too much into it? She seems so well educated in the classics I
must assume she knows.
And yet, does that matter? I
remember Mike doing an academic piece on my use of the New Woman
Archetype in the Alexia books. Frankly, I have no idea what he's talking
about, but he made me sound so very smart. And if he read my intent in accessing the New Woman, does it matter that I was unaware myself? After all in writign a book, my words become the readers to interpret. Are they really mine anymore?
If the author is unaware of the percussive nature of her work does that lessen the impact?
And with that philosophical thought, I leave you.
GAIL'S DAILY DOSE
Your Moment of Parasol . . .
Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Your Tisane of Smart . . .
|bessovestny-tumblr Joseph Christian Leyendecker (March 23, 1874 — July 25, 1951) |
Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
PROJECT ROUND UP
Waistcoats & Weaponry ~ The Finishing School Book the Third. November 4, 2014. Cover art to come.
Prudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the First: Print pass (3rd edit) now, release date March 17, 2015.
Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Finished rough draft, cutting and trimming begins in July.
Quote of the Day:
She also has a fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its Facebook Group.
Labels: finishing school, review, shaving the beast