Saturday, March 8, 2014

In the Forest of Serre (Fantasy Novel)

In the Forest of Serre by Patricia A. McKillip is, more or less, a fairy tale. It has wizards, kings and queens, a princess, a prince, a witch, and a beautiful mystical creature. Yet, the novel also contains a mystery that tugs at the back of the reader’s mind as the plot unfolds. Lastly, it has a sprinkling of metaphor.

To prevent war on Dacia, the king agrees to give his daughter, Sidone, in marriage to the prince of Serre, Ronan. The wizard of Dacia, Unciel, is very, very ill. Instead of accompanying Sidone to Serre himself, he sends another wizard, Gyre. But they discover that a witch has cast a spell on the prince.  Furthermore, Gyre proves to be a questionable choice to accompany the princess. Why did Unciel choose him? What caused Unceil’s illness? How can Prince Ronan be returned to his previous self?

Part of what makes In the Forest of Serre more than just another fairytale is the character of the scribe Euan. He has been asked to copy Unciel’s papers into a legible form. As Euan writes the words, he awakens memories in Unciel. Euan’s devotion and humility add a special touch to the story.

In the Forest of Serre also has a metaphoric level. What happens when someone gives their heart away? What are we worth to ourselves? How can we break the spell that has been cast on us?

I started reading In the Forest of Serre by accident, mistakenly believing it was a series of short stories. I am glad that I was treated to this pleasant story.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

In the Forest of Serre (Quotes)

The following quotes from In the Forest of Serre by Patricia A. McKillip are definitely ponderable:

You have opened your heart, the book said. Now what will you do?

 …how do I know what I’m worth to me? What would you be worth to you?

Some days you battle yourself and other monsters. Some days you just make soup.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Best of Connie Willis (Quotes)

Over the years books have helped me in so many, many ways, but for the most part I have felt alone in my reading life. So often when I have wanted to talk about something from a book that has moved me, I have been shushed or worse – I have a friend that believes that reading science fiction is a sign of mental illness – Alexander McCall Smith, Debbie Macomber (Blossom Street Series), and Connie Willis are among authors who have repeatedly touched my heart. Near the back of The Best of Connie Willis is a “bonus section”-- which to me is worth more than the price of the book—that contains her Worldcom Guest of Honor Speech and an undelivered Grand Master Backup Speech. These two selections say so much that is in my own heart about books and make me feel that there is at least one other person out there who has a similar experience. I would love to see a slightly edited version of the speeches made into an illustrated book, which those of us who have been saved by books can read over and over again. Below are some brief excerpts:

[Books] saved my life. I know what you’re thinking, that the books provided an escape for me. And it’s certainly true books can offer refuge from worries and despair. …. But it wasn’t escape I need when my mother died. It was the truth. And I couldn’t get anyone to tell it to me…. I found what I was looking for, what I needed, what I wanted, what I loved in books. 

Characters in stories grow up and go off on quests ….. and in the process they tell us about ourselves. They show us what matters and what doesn’t. They teach us how to be human. And tell us how our own stories might turn out.

Books can reach across space and time …. and speak to someone they have never met, to someone who hasn’t even been born when they were written and give them help and advice and companionship and consolation. 

I encourage anyone who loves books to read the speeches in their entirety.