Friday, June 28, 2024

Songs from the Drowned Lands ~ Kernaghan

Recently I took a trip to New York (the city) and needed something to read that I could easily carry on the plane. I don't really buy paperbacks anymore but still have my rather large collection from the '80s. I poked around and found a book I hardly remembered reading, but whose content echoed some vague satisfaction from when I first read back in '83 or '84.  

I plunged into on the plane and had trouble putting it down to chat with my wife, or move about, or even wander NYC (which I did, finally taking the time to see the beautiful Empire State Building and the painting of Washington crossing the Deleware). But even while I wandered about my mind kept returning to the stories, now untold but aching to spill out of the pages.

Songs From The Drowned Lands was written by Eileen Kernaghan and published in 1983. It was one of many fantasy books I scooped up in those days and several by Kernaghan. Fantasy was different then, you could read a book and not have to worry about it being part of a giant trilogy or multi-book series, which always run the gamey risk of thrones of never being finished. Plus its nice to just read a story and move on to another with different characters and different settings.

Songs is just such a book. It tells the story of the Sorcerous Isles, rarely named, as taken from the point of view of 5 different characters. Those who inhabit these isles have learned of its eminent demise at the hands of the Lords of Chaos, upon whose arrival the sea will rise up and sweep the Isles and all who inhabit them away.

The tales each relate how notable sorcerers respond to the threat, with acceptance, fear, seeking to flee, fighting it and hope. 

The book is wonderful written and Kernaghan's descriptions of the landscape paint an amazingly vibrant tapestry through which the characters wander. The dialogue is crisp. The characters engaging. And the threat of Chaos is painted so subtly that it yields this strangely compelling fear that nags at the reader, at least it did me. 

Here is one of my favorite passages, heard by Theiras, a noble of an ancient house, a relative of the king. She has only just realized the Lords of Chaos and the coming storm and must come to terms with her melancholia.

"For you there will be no wine, no poppy. That is not the way a king dies, or the daughter of kings. A king does not run from death, nor does he bargain with it. Theiras, if there is the true blood of warriors in you, you will not let death strike you from behind. You will hold out your life in your hands, a gift freely offered. That is the order of things - the first and ancient order - and you will not betray it."

I cannot recommend this book enough. It has encouraged me to return to the genre and read more stories, that are just that, stories.

Find it on Biblio!

Monday, June 03, 2024

The Presumption of Hell

It is presumed in Hell that the plane is one of structured law. That Hell is a realm governed by the dictates of its occupants and creators. That it is one of continuity and design, of purpose and patterns. That Hell’s decalogue governs all things there and all those who inhabit it. This is not wholly the truth, for Hell is also governed by evil, and evil is petty, vainglorious, vindictive, lacking in any real understanding of consequence. Those who occupy Hell are too evil to see the folly of their own deeds and because of this the plane of their manufacture is only a fa├žade of order, a charade perpetrated by the very nature of those who dwell there, the great and the small. It is an artifice for which they themselves have fallen and one they, in their egomaniacal solipsism, propagate unceasingly. 

                                                                                ~ The Codex of the Planes


Songs from the Drowned Lands ~ Kernaghan

Recently I took a trip to New York (the city) and needed something to read that I could easily carry on the plane. I don't really buy pa...