July 5th, 2012


Book 19

Originally posted by audrey_e at Book 19
19 DUNE Frank Herbert (USA 1965)

Dune is often called Science-Fiction's great masterpiece, and this is what attracted me to the book in the first place. However I did not like it one bit.
First of all, I have to admit that Dune is not my kind of Science-Fiction. It resembles more Fantasy in the sense that it recreates a different world. My kind of Science-Fiction is Philip K. Dick's. One that sets itself in the future of our current world an analyzes the dangers of the future/present.
Having said that, it would be unfair to say that Herbert's novel is not concerned with contemporary issues as it is filled with  ecology, philosophy and religion. More importantly, it is absolutely undeniable that Dune paved the way for the SF novels we know today, with its fictional but complex worlds and its specific details about technology.
However, just like with Dan Simmons' Illium I read a couple of years ago, I simply did not care about the characters. Yes their magic, training, technology, religions and garments were discussed in details, but that does not make up for someone's personality.  The problem is, once it became clear that I did not care about the characters and their world, it was hard to focus enough and understand what "the voice", "the spice", "the shield" and all those stuff were.
Finally, while I have to admit Herbert's writing style is elegant, his novel is still filled with cliche statements about the nature of people's relationships or the universe.
To conclude, all I can say is that I'm glad I did not care about the characters considering how anti-climatic the ending was.
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Book 88: Advent by James Treadwell

Book 88: Advent (First Book of the Advent Trilogy).
Author: James Treadwell, 2012.
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy. Coming-of-Age. Arthurian. Myth & Legend.
Other Details: Hardback. 448 pages.

Once, there were mermaids in the seas and virtues in the stars; but then a gift was lost, and all of that became no more than the stuff of fantasy. What if it came back?

Everyone tells fifteen-year-old Gavin that the things he sees aren't really there. He hardly believes himself any more. Then he's sent to stay with his aunt in Cornwall. She's not there to meet him. But other things are, things no one will be able to ignore. Magic is coming back, bringing terrible things with it . . .
- synopsis from author's website.

This novel came highly recommended to me by a close friend who has many years involvement in the esoteric as well being an acknowledged expert in the Arthurian tradition. When he raves about a novel with these kind of themes, I tend to sit up and pay attention.

I found it a beautifully written novel, quite literary in its style reflecting Treadwell's background in academia. It elegantly blends aspects of Arthurian lore with other mythologies and the Renaissance legend of Faust. There certainly are echoes of the novels of Susan Cooper and Alan Garner, who are two of my favourite writers when it comes to these kind of quintessentially British fantasies and I wasn't surprised to read that they were also favourites of the author.

Advent's protagonist, Gavin, came across as a very credible 21st Century teenager, who is thrown headlong into an increasingly unusual set of circumstances when he is sent from London to Cornwall for a short holiday with his Aunt Gwen. Once there things get progressively stranger and stranger. Treadwell takes his time establishing this haunting atmosphere, drawing on Cornwall's rich history of the mysterious.

Given that Advent is the opening act for a trilogy, I don't feel there is too much I can say about its overall theme of magic returning to the world until Treadwell has the opportunity to reveal his story-line in full. I certainly felt it was a promising start and shall be on the look-out for the publication of the second book, which Treadwell's website advises will be the summer of 2013.