Friday, April 17, 2009

Peter Dickinson: The Ropemaker

I had such a hankering to read something by Peter Dickinson, and thought myself very clever when I remembered that there was nothing stopping me from borrowing his children's books, since I'd read all the adult ones the library seems to have. After all, a long time ago I'd read The Blue Hawk (in translation, admittedly), and it was good. So when I saw this I picked it up. Unfortunately I was disappointed. It starts off well, throwing us into a setting and events that we don't completely understand the reasons for, without any explaining. This is classic Dickinson, to me, and I like it. Makes the reader feel a bit intelligent, right? But then the explanations start coming and to be honest I just felt like the whole book was a series of scenes piled upon one another, with long tedious dialogue and over-explained like anything. The first chapter I started thinking that this would make an excellent film perhaps, and had jsut started crowing to myself that Dickinson wasn't one of those writers that write as if they're expecting that to happen though, ha ha ha, and was I ever going to put that in the blog post!

I changed my mind. I am very unsure of this book.

It redeems itself a little in the epilogue, where we learn that despite our heroes and heroines tremendous efforts to save their home, there will come a future day in which they are a mere myth, and their country will have been overrun by violence and death. With that little glimmer of hope, when one descendant starts to believe the stories. Oh, and the world Dickinson has created is really capable of being a fantastic secondary universe. It's a tremendously cruel and violent Empire, riddled with magic and with a lot of internal logic and myth. Sadly, it doesn't reach all the way, I feel.

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