No two persons ever read the same book. --Edmund Wilson

Friday, January 11, 2013

2012/58: Mythworld 1: The Festival of Bones -- James A. Owen

... the Book of Alberich. Do you understand what this could be? Not a poetic cycle, or a mythologized history. This could be an accounting, perhaps only once or twice removed, of the actual father of Hagen — the very instigator of everything in the Prose Edda, the Nibelunglied, and... Wagner’s Ring. [location 1625]

Read this on a plane, which might have contributed to my fuzziness about the plot and characters. The Festival of Bones is part conspiracy theory, part 'search for lost book containing wisdom of the ancients', part occult thriller. It namechecks Wagner, Alexandra David-Neel, Arthur Pendragon and the myth of the Erl-King. Also, there are zombie students. No, real zombie students, not students who spent last night in the bar.

The Festival of Bones contains some cool and intriguing ideas, but the presentation feels muddled. Actually, the whole novel feels like a fix-up prequel to another work (though it isn't; the second novel in the sequence was published well after the first). The writing is competent at worst, with occasional flashes of excellence, and the excitement ramps up throughout the book. It just didn't click with me, but that might be due to the tired, fraught state in which I read it.

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