Tuesday, October 31, 2006,8:11 PM
More about books...
So I'm sitting here in my Jedi knight costume handing out candy while Mike takes Emma trick-or-treating (I'll post pictures tomorrow). As I look at my blog, I realize that it looks like I’ve been ignoring my “recent reads” or just not reading recently. In all honesty I haven’t had much time to read recently, but that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped.

As I mentioned before, I recently read through every single book Anne Bishop has written (I just didn’t want a long string of fantasy books by one author over on the sidebar). I really enjoyed her books and liked journeying into a very feminist (but not misandric) take on high fantasy. I most enjoyed the Black Jewels Trilogy and its spin-offs. The Tir Alainn books were also a great read. I enjoyed how she created other world in true high fantasy fashion, but also included unique twists on elements from our world.

I wasn’t as big of a fan of Sebastian. It tried to be high fantasy, but was too surreal and full of the sordid realities of our world to flow together well. I did find its use of the concept of resonating with landscapes to be meaningful. For the shattered world of Ephemera the only way one can travel between the scattered lands is if one’s heart resonates with that particular land. Of course one can always be surprised about which lands one can enter, but one also always knows when one is at home – fully resonating with a landscape. I liked that idea and having recently traveled to Texas and Santa Fe I understood what it meant to resonate with a place. It is the places I have encountered where I find beautiful surroundings, creative/progressive culture, local shops, and great conversation (with family or friends- old or new) that I resonate with and long to be. So Austin, Boulder, Santa Fe… these are places I enjoy and desire to be. Not that I can’t find resonance and make a home elsewhere (say Yorkville, IL), it just feels different.

Anyway, my other recent reading has been in Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. I’m just now about 300 pages into the 1000+ page books, and its just beginning to show signs of a plot. It’s a very Victorianesque book. So we shall see how it goes. I usually like to finish one book before I start a new one, but this one is so slow and my reading list is so long… Its interesting in its own way and I was very amused by the opening of chapter 1. It reminded oh too much of religion and how we treat it vs. spirituality. If you’re interested, this is how the book begins. -

SOME YEARS AGO there was in the city of York a society of magicians. They met upon the third Wednesday of every month and read each other long, dull papers upon the history of English magic.

They were gentleman-magicians, which is to say they had never harmed anyone by magic - nor ever done anyone the slightest good. In fact, to own the truth, not one of these magicians had ever cast the smallest spell, nor by magic caused one leaf to tremble upon a tree, made one mote of dust to alter its course or changed a single hair upon anyone's head. But, with this one minor reservation, they enjoyed a reputation as some of the wisest and most magical gentlemen in Yorkshire. …

In the autumn of 1806 they received an addition in a gentleman called John Segundus. At the first meeting that he attended Mr Segundus rose and addressed the society. . . . recently he had begun to wonder why the great feats of magic that he read about remained on the pages of his book and were no longer seen in the street or written about in the newspapers. Mr Segundus wished to know, he said, why modern magicians were unable to work the magic they wrote about. In short, he wished to know why there was no more magic done in England.

It was the most commonplace question in the world. It was the question which, sooner or later, every child in the kingdom asks his governess or his schoolmaster or his parent. Yet the learned members of the York society did not at all like hearing it asked and the reason was this: they were no more able to answer it than anyone else.

The President of the York society (whose name was Dr Foxcastle) turned to John Segundus and explained that the question was a wrong one. "It presupposes that magicians have some sort of duty to do magic which is clearly nonsense. You would not, I imagine, suggest that it is the task of botanists to devise more flowers? Or that astronomers should labour to rearrange the stars? Magicians, Mr Segundus, study magic which was done long ago. Why should anyone expect more?"

An elderly gentleman with faint blue eyes and faintly-coloured clothes (called either Hart or Hunt - Mr Segundus could never quite catch the name) faintly said that it did not matter in the least whether any body expected it or not. A gentleman could not do magic.. Magic was what street sorcerers pretended to do in order to rob children of their pennies. Magic (in the practical sense) was much fallen off. It had low connexions. It was the bosom companion of unshaven faces, gypsies, house-breakers; the frequenter of dingy rooms with dirty yellow curtains. Oh no! A gentleman could not do magic. A gentleman might study the history of magic (nothing could be nobler) but he could not do any. The elderly gentleman looked with faint, fatherly eyes at Mr Segundus and said that he hoped Mr Segundus had not been trying to cast spells.

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