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Book 16

  1. Pohl, Frederik — Gateway (278 pages)
  2. Clement, Hal — Mission of Gravity (193 pages)
  3. Benford, Gregory — Timescape (499 pages)
  4. O'Hare, Mick (editor) — Why Don't Penguins Feet Freeze? and 114 Other Questions (232 pages)
  5. Dos Passos, John — Number One (218 pages)
  6. Heller, Joseph — Catch-22 (457 pages)
  7. St. John of the Cross — Dark Night of the Soul (119 pages)
  8. Day, Dorothy — The Long Loneliness (286 pages)
  9. Allen, Ted, Kyan Douglas, Thom Filicia, Carson Kressley, and Jai Rodriguez — Queer Eye for the Straight Guy: The Fab 5's Guide to Looking Better, Cooking Better, Dressing Better, Behaving Better, and Living Better (250 pages)
  10. Whittemore, Carroll E., ed. (William Duncan, illus.) — Symbols of the Church (59 pages)
  11. Hardy, Thomas — Jude the Obscure (507 pages)
  12. Lee, Harper — To Kill a Mockingbird (278 pages)
  13. Mann, Thomas (Helen T. Lowe-Porter, transl.) — Death in Venice (73 pages)
  14. Kempis, Thomas à — The Imitation of Christ (165 pages)
  15. West, Canon Edward N. — Outward Signs: The Language of Christian Symbolism (232 pages)
  16. Alexander, Lloyd — The High King (253 pages)

Page count: 4,099 of targeted 12,500.

I finally finished The Chronicles of Prydain only to find that there is another book of tales. I'm not sure how much I'll enjoy the tales without Taran and Gurgi and Fflewddur and friends…BUT…I know what you all will have to say on that, and Tales of Earthsea were no poorer for missing a little Sparrowhawk.

Taran Wanderer is still my favorite of the five books, but The High King comes a close second. They're much different beasts, though. I love the skill with which Alexander (or was it Orddu) wove all the different threads from the preceding stories together into a rich tapestry as Taran continued to grow and gain wisdom from previous lessons learned. This was a fantastic ending to the series.

My only quibble is the strong parallel to the end of The Lord of the Rings. Really, the similarities—departure of Sons of Don and Dallben to that of Elves and Gandalf, fall of Annuvin to fall of Mordor, etc.—were too close. I don't think Alexander would intentionally copy Tolkien: the latter is too well known, both to adults and his target audience. So Tolkien and Alexander must have been paralleling existing myth, folklore, and legend. I'm just not well enough versed in that area to speculate further.

I'm a bit disappointed in numbers right now. Despite my recent reading spree, the daily average required to reach 12,500 pages by the end of the year has only dropped one page from 43 to 42. I was hoping to make up more ground, as not everything I read between now and the end of the year will go by so quickly.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Jun. 16th, 2007 01:34 am (UTC)
You are exactly right that both Alexander and Tolkien are drawing on the same Anglo-Celtic mythic tradition, in which the elves (and by extension ancient magic of the world) retreats before the ascendancy of human institutions. The idea of the Summer Country, or the Undying Lands as Tolkien has them, is a very old one in the British Isles -- Arthur's Avalon is pretty much the same place, as is Tir-na-Nog or Hy-Breasil or whatever name you want to call it.

The trope of departing magic is so common in both folklore and fantasy fiction that John Clute, editor of The Encyclopedia of Fantasy coins a quasi-accademic term for it: thinning. I recommend Clute in general, if you're interested in fantasy conventions (I mean the kind without fen in costumes).

So glad you enjoyed the Prydain books; they are among my favorite fantasies ever, and I agree that Taran Wanderer is the best, followed closely by The High King. Like The Lord of the Rings, the Iliad, and Beowulf Alexander's books are unflinching in their depiction of both the necessity (in some cases) and the awful cost (in all) of war. He never talks down to kids about the Big Issues, but he also always leaves room for real hope; I still love him for that.

If you dug the Prydain series, may I recommend Alexander's Westmark books? A bit darker, no magic, but also compelling.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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