Thursday, April 28, 2011

Song of the Dragon

The Song of the Dragon, by Tracy Hickman, opens up with the final battle between a mighty elven empire and the last dwarven king.  Drakis and his companions, all of them slave warriors of the elven empire, fight their way to the Ninth Throne and kill the last dwarven king. It is a great victory for them and it will bring honor to their elven master, Lord Timuran. Unfortunately things begin to go downhill for Drakis and his companions.
After the dwarves are defeated the elven warriors turn on one other, each trying to claim the dwarven crown for their master. The crown is lost in the chaos and Drakis’ cohort is left with nothing to bring back to their master except a rather annoying dwarven fool.
Things get worse when the warriors arrive home; House Timuron’s Aether Well gets destroyed during the Devotion ceremony. The Aether Well is the source of elven magic and it is what allows the elves to control their slaves. Each slave’s memories are manipulated and controlled by the Devotion spell in a way that makes the slaves want to serve their master. With the Aether Well destroyed, all of the slaves remember everything they had been forced to forget.
Drakis and a group of slaves flee north lead by the song he hears in his head. Along the way each former slave grapples with their newly remembered memories. Most of them are shocked when they remember the things they have done in the past. Adding to the tension is the fact that Drakis and his companions are strangers to each other. Also one of them is marking their trail, allowing the elves to follow them.
Normally a few escaped slaves wouldn’t be such a big deal for the elves. However many people think that Drakis will fulfill an ancient prophecy and destroy the elven empire. Various power groups attempt to capitalize on this idea. Drakis himself disbelieves the prophecy but that doesn’t stop others from using it to their advantage.
Drakis is a classic reluctant hero. He is also a static character. In fact, most of the characters are static. By the end I was tired of Drakis’ repetitive reluctance. Regardless, my favorite character is the dwarven fool. By the end of the book I still wasn’t sure if he believed in the prophecy or if he was manipulating Drakis in order to get revenge on the elves.
The Song of the Dragon is a fast-paced, epic fantasy adventure. I recommend it to any fantasy reader; seasoned readers or those new to the genre.
Stop by the library or place it on hold today. (It's also availible as an audio book!)

Thanks for reading. Questions and comments are encouraged below.
-Adam Delaura

Thursday, April 14, 2011

House of Leaves

Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves is not a science fiction of fantasy book. In fact, I’m not sure what to call this book. Nevertheless I feel compelled to share my experience with it. House of Leaves is a bizarre, psychological-horror-puzzle that will make your head explode if you try to understand it all.

House of Leaves is about many things although on the surface it provides a pseudo-scholarly examination of a documentary film that may or may not be fictitious. The subject of the documentary film is a house that is larger on the inside than on the outside. Terrible things happen inside this house as the owner and film maker, Navidson, documents his exploration of the extra-dimensional spaces found within the house. The house is possibly alive and it is constantly changing. Hallways and doors change without notice. For example, traveling down a staircase may take only a few seconds but travelling back up that same stairway might take days.

This hardly describes the true plot of this book. The House of Leaves is a fictional book about a fictional film, however in the margins and on several pages are the thoughts of other characters, Zampano and Jonny Truant, who are “reading” House of Leaves and trying to understand it. This act of comprehending the House of Leaves kills Zampano and horrifies Truant. In fact, the introduction to the book is a warning from Truant.

The book has a most unconventional setup. First, it’s filled with various footnotes and references to academic journals, magazines, and scholarly writings; most of which do not exist. Second, there is a separate type-face used to notate the various characters thoughts. Additionally the book has passages in many languages, English, German, Latin, Russian, Braille, and possibly others. There are seemingly random lists of things, passages printed backwards and written in code, entire lines that are struck through, and some very creative page layout. Also the word “house” is always printed in blue.

One could easily write an entire book just trying to explain House of Leaves. Nevertheless it’s worth reading if you are interested in an unconventional novel. Stop by the library and check it out

Thanks for reading. Questions and comments are encouraged.

-Adam Delaura