is how it came to be added to my reading list. However, to be more specific, it is one of the earliest works of Gothic horror, more a precursor to Mary Shelly's Frankenstein than it is to The Lord of the Rings. That is not a genre that I tend to favor, but the idea of reading an early work of speculative fiction was intriguing to allow me to look past that element.
It's said in the news business that if you only tell the truth, your audience will give you poor reviews, but I won't be giving a negative review for Terry Pratchett's The Truth. Actually, I don't know if anyone says that, but like all of the major news agencies, why would I let a little thing like truth get in the way of a good line? After all, a lie can run around the world before the truth had finished putting on its boots.
This book is, I suspect, in its basic essence something that most readers of fantasy and science fiction, or at least writers of it, have thought about at some point: what if I were to somehow be pulled into the protagonist role in the world of one of the stories I'm reading or writing? What would it be like? Could I even accept what was happening, the apparent evidence of my senses? On one level, that is exactly the circumstance in which Thomas Covenant finds himself, and by itself could make for an interesting, enjoyable story, maybe something a little like tumbling through the back of a wardrobe into a magical land.
This book reminded me of Ursula K Le Guin's writing. Something about the descriptions, the pacing, the plotting, the characters, echoed that author's mode and style. Not that I think Wild Seed is derivative in any way - it is one of the most unique stories I've come across recently - merely that the author happened to have similar style and preferences to Le Guin. Also like Le Guin, Butler takes a fairly common concept - that of immortals interacting with mortals - and follows through on it in a way that makes it compelling and original. This is, in many ways, what I've always wanted to see in a book that tackles that concept.
As you know if you've been following along with the weekly reviews for awhile, I've been spending a lot of time reading this past year or so books that deal with either myth or ancient history, whether its the mythology of Iceland or Tolkien, and that has led me to my own thoughts about mythology and history, including a rapidly growing novel that draws from such ideas and formats for much of its inspiration. In many ways, Gaiman's Norse Mythology feels like a similar project, a retelling of old myths in a new way. Instead of telling a new story inspired by those older sources, Gaiman actually retells a sampling of real, classic myths.
Not to be confused with Bloodline, by Conn Iggulden, which we reviewed last year. I'm sure that won't confuse the search algorithms for the site at all. This happens to also be the first book whose title is not strongly reflected by a component in the book; the closest I came up with for the name's inspiration was a vision Lindon has at almost the end of the novel. All of that, however, is getting ahead of ourselves; the relevancy of the title was far from the only thing different about this latest instalment in the Cradle series (I will link to the reviews for the previous books in the series at the bottom of the post).
There have been so many different takes on dragons over the years (and, indeed, centuries), and I have read so many different books about dragons, that you would think that I would eventually get tired of them, or stop finding books that have anything really original to add to the topic. You might think that, but you would be wrong; it seems that there will always be more stories to tell about these majestic creatures in all of their various forms, which for some reason loom so large in our imaginations. Dragon's Blood is another fine contribution to the massive body of human literature on the compelling subject of dragons.
I really wanted to like this book. I thought going in that I would like this book, because it seemed to have so many things that I look for in new fantasy novels: originality, unusual inspirations, intriguing characters with conflicting and mysterious motivations, really unique world and magic, et cetera. In fact, I wanted to like this book so much that I managed to convince myself to keep reading through to the end, despite the fact that at least once per chapter I was about ready to put it down, so I guess you could say that's a testament to it being a better novel than my rating would imply, since it kept giving me just enough of what I liked to keep me from walking away from it in disgust.
In my most recent reread of The Lord of the Rings, I expressed that there is a certain mythical quality to the story and its manner of telling, and that is even more so present in The Silmarillion, which makes sense: according to the letter of Tolkien's included with the text, Middle Earth was intended to be a sort of original mythology, evolved from the languages he had invented.
I've said it in every other post about these books so far, but I will say it again: you should read The Lord of the Rings. If you haven't read them, then a) I'm very sorry for the sad life you have heretofore lived, and b) you should read them immediately. If you have read them, then you should reread them. These are the kinds of books that spoil you for everything else that isn't nearly half as good as they are.