Friday, May 05, 2006

The Iron Tree by Cecilia Dart-Thornton is an okay read. I think though that she tries too hard to evoke the legend quality in her work. Yes I know, and yes I reade the article by Ursula Le Guin about using a more mythic and mythically evocative language in fantasy to imbue it with difference and a feeling of otherworldliness but it sometimes just isn't right. I've read books, hell I used to read legends like they were going to disappear when I was younger and I'm actually used to the languge they use but this just falls flat, and I'm not sure why.

I have to admit that I also found the names to be a bit offputting and in once instance caused me to laugh out loud. "King Maolmordha O Maolduin of Slievmordhu" (there were accents in the original but I'm a bit lazy). Now, the O in that name means "of" so that name has two of's instead of maybe a Mac which would be "son of" which would be a bit better, (we won't go into the no "v" in irish issue). Then there's the marshdwellers one example of which is "Earnan Mosswell", pardon? Oh yes, celtic derivative first names, every single one, and English derivative surnames. Uh huh, that so works.

A typical few paragraphs read:

"Just as the fray reached its height a man, tall and lithe, came running out of the hovering haze of dust that still filled and obscured the defile. Uttering a crazy war whoop he rushed at the ambushers, his scimitar upraised. He moved like a peasant dancer - not with consummate sill but with supremem confidence. Striking to right and left, feinting, parrying, his eager blade slashed the air like a whirling, silver-spoked wheel. The edge bit into flesh like the north wind in Winter and dripped crimson with gore.

"The lunatic disarmed an adversary with a cunning stroke of his scimitar, then upheld his foe's chin on the point of his curved blade. The ill-matched eyes of the terrified bandit glazed over: behind his conqueror's shoulder he could see Death walking down the road to fetch him.

"'Avaunt thee, dog!' shouted the madman in his foe's face. 'I grant thee mercy. But never trouble us again!'"

Oh yes that's typical of the dialogue, high Shakespeare, even in the midst of crisis or fight. It just doesn't work, nor does the over purpled prose.

I'm sure she has fans and this is the fourth of her books that I have actually read. I did actually like the first one, but partially because I made allowances for "first book" this time I really didn't care if her characters lived or died, I have no urge to read the next one, not even on a curiousity to see what happens next.

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