The Magic of Books

Books are magic.

Right now, I’m about one-third through Tad Williams‘ “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn — To Green Angel Tower: Siege”. I read this series two or three times in the German translation, now for the first time I’m reading in English. The last time I read them was quite a while ago, and I forgot how great they are. I just oredered part IV today.

I remember, when I held the English copy of “The Dragonbone Chair” in my hands for the first time a few weeks ago, it was like Christmas come early. It really is one of the greatest fantasy stories of all time, and it’s even better in English (no surprise there, I’m not exactly a fan of translations and only read them if the book was originally written in a language other than German or English.) The author’s language in the books is very poetic.

Anyway, there’s something about a great story well told that’s just… well, magic. How you get to know the characters as if they were real and you’d met them, and how you come to care for each and everyone of them… when the book ends it’s like having to say farewell to old friends. The one book I have read more times than I can count (as a matter of fact, I stopped counting after I read it for the 27th time) is The Lord Of The Rings, and there were times, when after finishing the last page I would turn the book around and start over.

There are other books that captured me with the same kind of magic (although none of them quite as strong as Tolkien’s books): Ralf Isau‘s Neschan trilogy, the Avalon books by Marion Zimmer Bradley, even the Harry Potter books; just to name a few. I don’t know what it is about books, but there is so much life in them that that sometimes it’s hard to believe they are just made-up stories.

If you don’t read, you won’t understand. If you do, there’s no explanation necessary.

“The Magician’s Apprentice” by Trudi Canavan

Rating: ★★★★★

Just finished “The Magicians’s Apprentice” by Trudi Canavan, a Christmas present (which I got a couple of days early or I either wouldn’t be through or not awake yet ;)) and it was absolutely fantastic. I can only recommend it!

Apart from a great story very well told, I was also very impressed with the fact that, being a prequel to “The Black Magician Trilogy” (also very recommendable), it was very consistent. My usual experience with prequels (be it books or movies or television) is that the writers tend to contradict their own original work (whether because they thought the new idea was better and that they should have written it differently in the original story or whether out of inattentiveness is hard to tell). A good example is the series of Star Wars prequels, where Padmé dies despite the fact that in “The Return of the Jedi” Leia, when asked by Luke, tells him she does have a vague memory of her real mother. I always find that bothering me; not enough to dislike the whole thing if the rest of the story is well told and conclusive in itself, but still. To me it makes the difference between a good story and a great story.

Spoiler coming, click “show” to read.
This part is directed at people who have already read the book, hoping to spark a little discussion. If you haven’t read it yet and are planning to read it, it will spoil parts of it for you. That’s why it’s called a Spoiler. You have been warned 🙂

[spoiler]There was a little predictability in there, though it didn’t bother me too much. After realizing that in this story the Kyralian magicians don’t have healing magic and the main protagonist being the very dedicated daughter of a healer, it was easy to guess that by the end of the book they would have figured it out. But that part, too, was very logical. In “The High Lord”, the last part of the “Black Magician Trilogy”, Sonea realizes that the invading Sachakans don’t know how to heal with magic, and if it was the Kyralians who came up with it it is only logical that they wouldn’t share something that important with the Sachakans. Although, now that I think about it, it’s actually a little surprising, that in all the time that passed between The Magician’s Apprentice and the Black Magician Trilogy none of them ever came to Kyralia or Elyne and found out about it (and lived to bring news of it back). Not saying that they would necessarily have figured out how to do it, but they shouldn’t be surprised by it, either, but they are. So, while writing this review I found a little flaw in logic after all… But fortunately it’s minor enough that it wouldn’t effect the 5 star rating 🙂 After all, while it wouldn’t be very likely in the real world considering that it’s not a big secret in Kyralia or Elyne, it’s still possible, I guess.

The one thing she doesn’t explain is why “Higher Magic” was banned by the time The Black Magician Trilogy takes place. It’s possible that it has something to do with Lord Narvelan’s detonation of the store stone and consequential creation of the wasteland, but unless she’s planning on giving an explanation in a later book we’ll have to guess. Which is fine with me.[/spoiler]

When I opened the book for the first time I accidentally skimmed some of the pages at the end. The words that stood out where “Cery” and “Epilogue”, which was an unfortunate combination… made me hope for an epilogue set in the time of the Black Magician’s Trilogy. Unfortunately it turned out to be an excerpt of “The Traitor Spy” Trilogy. I decided not to read it and instead went to the computer to look up the books on Amazon, only to realize that the last one is yet to be released. If there’s one thing I hate about books it’s buying the first one or two of trilogy of which the last part isn’t released yet. Happened to me by accident a few times (John Twelve Hawks “The Traveler” or Philip Pullmans “Golden Compass”, not to mention Harry Potter, which had still three books coming when I started to read), and I was always really mad at myself for not paying attention. So, as much as I’m itching to read more of this story line, I decided to wait. (The next Christmas is sure to come — if you don’t believe the Mayans, that is ;-))