It must be something about autumn. I rarely have time to update my blog or write a lengthy, somewhat coherent post, and I noticed the other day that Pat Rothfuss seems to be busy as well. (Though I’m sure more people are upset over his lack of updates than mine–I can dream.)
I mentioned in the last post that when I returned I would talk a little about my favorite author, some books and other stuff for work, and maybe a project of my own.
Last week, I managed to find time to read A Song for Arbonne by Guy Gavriel Kay. The book had been sitting on my shelf next to Sailing to Sarantium and Lord of Emperors for some time, and I never seemed to get around to reading it. There was always a new ARC in the way or some ten-part series to be finished. Now, I wish I had taken my time reading it because Kay’s works are always so complex and so fulfilling. Like most of Kay’s works, A Song for Arbonne is based upon historical events. (In this case, the region of Languedoc in France which was independent of the monarchy until it was conquered by the French in the 12th century for its support of the Cathars or Bons Hommes.) Kay wrote an essay many years ago entitled “Home and Away” in which he explains his reasons for writing fantasy based entirely upon real, historical events. He claims:
fantasy has the potential to be one such way of addressing the issues that the past so often throws at the present day. It isn’t just an evasion, an escape, a hiding from truths of the world: it can be an acknowledgment that those truths are complex, morally difficult, and that many different sorts of techniques and processes may lead to a book’s resonating deeply for a reader and a time.
I couldn’t agree more. The religious differences that brought about Albigensian Crusade and the purge of the Cathars in France and the fictional war between Arbonne and Gorhaut are issues “that the past” is throwing “at the present day.” Just turn on the news. A Song for Arbonne was published in ’92, and it still applies. The same could be said of the two books of the Sarantine Mosaic which chronicle the collapse of an empire (Byzantine) and a culture’s lust for wealth and power. Where could connections be drawn there?
In short, I highly recommend all of Kay’s works, even his more traditional fantasy epic The Fionavar Tapestry (which happens to be number three on my list of Best Series).
Anyone want to take a stack of ARCs and galley proofs? I’m swamped. I’ve just finished reading The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen, and I have copies of Liesl and Po, a second children’s story, and a nonfiction piece to go through in the next week. Sadly, I’m already behind. The Revisionists came out six days ago, and Liesl and Po came out today–I’m not sure about the dates for the other titles.
For those interested, The Revisionists was pretty good.
I’ll be talking about my personal writing projects next time, so come back!