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RE: [mythsoc] When the King Comes Home & 2 Princesses of Balmore

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  • Pauline J. Alama
    I m sorry, I don t at all understand what you said, because I haven t read any of these other books. Could you explain what was important about the meeting
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 8, 2002
      I'm sorry, I don't at all understand what you said, because I haven't read any of these other books. Could you explain what was important about the meeting with the king in "When the King Comes Home" without reference to the other books? Thank you very much.

      Pauline J. Alama
      (Bantam Spectra, July 2002)

      --- On Sun 04/07, David Lenander wrote:
      > on 4/6/02 3:41 AM, mythsoc@yahoogroups.com at mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
      > wrote:
      > Perhaps Alexei will jump in and say more (I'd love that) but what I found
      > so
      > excellent in his comment was that he focused on the artistic structure of
      > the book. I recognized that the meeting with the King was very
      > important,
      > central, but I didn't see how until I read his comment, and then had to
      > "step back" from the story and plot and characters and look at
      > this whole
      > book as a work of art: something that is integral to the plot and ideas
      > behind the text. Hail is an artist who is working on making works of
      > art:
      > oddly, reproducing works of art. (Here's another plug for Bujold's _the
      > Spirit Ring_, as well as for Peg Kerr's _Emerald House Rising_, these are
      > books that play with some similar ideas). You might also read the report
      > of
      > the Rivendell Group's discussion of Caroline and Pat Wrede's book,
      > _Sorcery
      > and Cecilia_ on the web page (which is at
      > http://www.tc.umn.edu/~d-lena/Stevermer%20page.html
      > [Unfortunately, when I set up a lot of my early web-pages, I used spaces
      > in
      > the titles, which seemed to work fine in a completely Mac and Unix world,
      > but didn't, once we crossed over into Windows territory. If for some
      > reason
      > the %20 thing doesn't work, try entering a space instead. Or go to my
      > Wood
      > Between the Worlds page, or my Rivendell page to find a link.
      > http://www.tc.umn.edu/~d-lena/RIVENDELL.html
      > ]
      > As I was starting to say, Caroline has expressed her extreme doubts about
      > the use of Magic in her books to the Rivendell Group, it's usually of
      > dubious efficacy and morally suspect. This comes out especially in _The
      > Serpent's Egg_, (to which list member Margaret Purdy Dean contributed, by
      > the way) but I suspect that's partly behind some of her reluctance to
      > resolve things happily via magic in this book. But, of course, she's
      > much
      > more willing to do so in a comedy, such as the other books set in this
      > world, or the Sorcery and Cecilia books.
      > In any case, it was stepping back from the story and looking at it as a
      > book, or extended prose narrative, or a novel, that allowed me to
      > appreciate
      > the artistry and subtle beauty of _When the King Comes Home_. I seem to
      > need these keys to understanding some books that otherwise puzzle me.
      > This
      > has happened several times with Eleanor Arnason's books: (I couldn't
      > make
      > hear or tail of _To the Resurrection Station_ until she told me that she
      > understood the book as being about the mental or ideational change that
      > must
      > occur in people first, before social change can follow. And then she
      > explained the title reference of which I had been ignorant: _To the
      > Finland
      > Station_, in which Lenin (I think it was) gets on a train not knowing or
      > understanding something, but has finally resolved or come to a new
      > understanding by the time he gets off the train at the Finland Station,
      > which enables him to move forward with his plans.... She didn't have to
      > explain more to me, suddenly a puzzling book became much clearer and I
      > found
      > I liked it much better). It's interesting to me that I unconsciously
      > focused on the King's speech as significant, but it was Alexei's comment
      > that showed me what was really signficant about it. Unconsciously I (and
      > I
      > suspect this may apply to many other readers) recognize how the author
      > has
      > focus on this speech, but I failed to understand why.
      > I'd guess, in regards to other concerns, that Caroline doesn't have much
      > faith in marriage as a solution to problems. Or possibly, even much
      > faith
      > that most problems are solvable, and not just a feature (as opposed to a
      > bug, I guess) of daily life. Or she's afraid of offering such a trite
      > ending. (Mind, I'm not sure of this at all, and actually, though I think
      > that marriage is a pretty poor solution, by itself, it's perfectly
      > respectable as a story ending for many reasons, apart from fidelity to
      > what
      > actually happens in any likely "real life."
      > On another note, Claire and I both read _Two Princesses of Balmore_ (I
      > may
      > have that title slightly wrong), by Gail Carson Levine (author of _Ella
      > Enchanted_ and other books) today. Claire seemed ready to put it at the
      > top
      > of her list, and I'm not sure I think it's better than _The Ropemaker_,
      > but
      > it might be. The children's field seems strong this year, and this one
      > is
      > more definitely a children's book than Dickenson's. Not that I didn't
      > think
      > well of the other nominees I've read, either. This book is lighter, kind
      > of
      > on the order of a grimmer and fiercer Wrede Enchanted Forest book, or a
      > little warmer Diana Wynne Jones book, very like _Ella_, I guess, though
      > possibly a better book--or at least nearly as good.
      > >
      > > Message: 3
      > > Date: Fri, 5 Apr 2002 08:30:42 -0500 (EST)
      > > From: "Pauline J. Alama"
      > > Subject: When the King Comes Home: SPOILER ALERT
      > >
      > >
      > > SPOILER ALERT: if you haven't read _When the King Comes Home_, you
      > may not
      > > want to read this.
      > >
      > > I would be interested in hearing David Lenander & Alexei talk
      > more about _When
      > > the King Comes Home_ -- it might bring out something I may have
      > missed. I felt
      > > very ambivalent about it. It drew me in immediately with excellent
      > wordcraft
      > > and an engaging narrator with a very distinctive voice. The
      > characters were
      > > very well drawn, and there were some beautiful moments, allusive
      > symbols like
      > > the brook running milk as the king crosses, that sent my imagination
      > running
      > > in all directions. However, in the end I was disappointed with it.
      > None of the
      > > glimpses of wonder seemed to add up to anything. It was all for
      > nothing; no
      > > resolution emerges. I don't think this was by accident, because it's
      > > elaborately foreshadowed: from the very beginning there's a tone of
      > regret, we
      > > live in fallen times, things are not now as they were in my youth,
      > etc. But I
      > > don't understand why. All these signs and wonders mean nothing. The
      > king came
      > > back, but it was a mistake, and now he's gone, which is OK. Also, the
      > end was
      > > not believable. They have no king, no priest-bishop, and the infamous
      > lord who
      > > tried to use the king also falls. This is what we call a power
      > vacuum, and it
      > > would be filled by something. Look at real-life Afghanistan, for
      > crying out
      > > loud: there was a power vacuum which was filled by the Taliban. Now
      > the
      > > Taliban are goine, and there's a power vacuum, and our country is
      > trying to
      > > prop up an approved leader to fill it while a bunch of warlords are
      > jockeying
      > > for position. No leader (or leading body) means every strongman sees
      > the main
      > > chance, and you have endless war, not peace and decline to
      > mediocrity. I know
      > > this is fantasy, but Stevermer declined to solve the problem of
      > kingship by
      > > fantastical means (whether the historical king coming back to rule,
      > the ailing
      > > king being healed, the new leader drawing the sword from the stone,
      > or
      > > whatever), and that ought to require her to produce a naturalistic
      > solution to
      > > the problem of government that runs through the plot. If you're not
      > going to
      > > offer a magical solution, you have to have a natural solution-- like
      > a war
      > > hero becoming the new king, or the people forming a sort of medieval
      > Swiss
      > > proto-democracy--or else my suspension of disbelief gives up and goes
      > home. I
      > > don't mean to beat up on Stevermer -- she kept me going for a good
      > long time,
      > > and it wasn't until almost the last page that I started to think I
      > wouldn't be
      > > voting for this after all. But I really don't understand why she
      > brought
      > > things around to such a non-resolution of the problem of kingship
      > that is,
      > > after all, proclaimed by the title to be a major theme of the book.
      > >
      > >
      > -- David Lenander
      > 293 Selby Ave. St. Paul, MN 55102-1811
      > d-lena@... 651-292-8887
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