Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi Was Written Just for Me

Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi Was Written Just for Me

I've never met Susanna Clarke, the reclusive British author best known for her massive and wonderful 2004 historical fantasy novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, and so she can't knowingly have written her most recent novel, Piranesi, just for me. But it sure feels like she did. Piranesi is an epistolary novel told through the [...]

A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor and the Surrender of Power

A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor and the Surrender of Power

Hank Green's A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor is a complex story. An alien hive intelligence, the perils of social media celebrity and a talking monkey are among the natural headline fodder of the plot's explosive adventure. Beyond that, it's legitimately astounding that Green managed to release a book in mid-2020 that is so keenly attuned to [...]

The Magic of Allusions

The Magic of Allusions

Rocannon's World may not be one of the first dozen Ursula K. Le Guin books that I'd recommend but the novel did birth a legacy that, rather appropriately, stretches through time from the story's 1966 publication through the present day. Needing a means of communication that could bridge the time-dilation gap of faster than light [...]

The Interesting Question Raised (and Left Unanswered) by Dan Brown’s Inferno

The Interesting Question Raised (and Left Unanswered) by Dan Brown’s Inferno

The explosive success of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code made him unfathomably wealthy but it also indirectly made him a punching bag for a certain type of literary snob. Yes, that includes me. It's not interesting, especially in 2020, to note that Dan Brown's prose is stilted and awkward, that his descriptions of female [...]

The Fall and Fellowship

The Fall and Fellowship

The final chapter of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Breaking of the Fellowship," is broken into two parts: The first ends with Boromir falling to the temptation of the Ring while the second ends with Frodo and Sam heading out to Mordor as chaos rages behind them. These two passages lay out [...]

A Single Song from The Lord of the Rings Is Destroying Me

A Single Song from The Lord of the Rings Is Destroying Me

J.R.R. Tolkien was an academic with a vibrant interest in storytelling traditions and, because it was a lot easier for 13th century bards to remember rhyming stanzas than one long string of prose text, most of those traditions involve stories written in verse or performed as songs outright. Not content to merely translate and rewrite those existing verse [...]

Niche Periphery: Tolkien’s The Silmarillion

Niche Periphery: Tolkien’s The Silmarillion

Before reading The Silmarillion, there are some questions that you should probably ask yourself: Do you know the basic stories of Gil-Galad and Beren One-Hand? Do you recognize names like Barahir, Grond and Fëanor and want to know more about them? Have you figured out, through context alone, what (fictional) words like dagor and ithil [...]