Sunday, August 11, 2013

Marking Books: The Bones of Avalon by Phil Rickman

Reading aloud to Greg, writing poetry and working to keep a roof over our heads doesn't really leave me much time to read for myself... but I do, no matter how long it takes me to get through a book. The Bones of Avalon is one such novel that I believe has taken me over five months to read through absolutely no fault of Mr. Rickman's.

While not for the faint of heart or for what I term "bubble gum" reading, The Bones of Avalon offers a magical and, at times disgustingly, realistic dive into 1560's Elizabethan England. The use of just enough Elizabethan speech helps to guide the reader back in time without confounding the "modern" mind and gives the story an overall sense of authenticity. As one may come to expect from Phil Rickman, a wide range of characters to both adore and abhor are introduced through a mist of mystery, plot twists and treachery at the highest levels.

At the same time I found myself affected by the inner and outer turmoils of Dr. John Dee, I grew especially fond of a rather minor character, a very colorful "maggot" by the name of Joan Tyrre and I was left curious to know more about her. Mr. Rickman, as always, was kind enough to include notes and credits at the end of the book to clear the path between fact and fiction and, with his much appreciated source citing, I am able and eager to read more on Mistress Tyrre's account.

I guess that is the hook with which Phil Rickman has successfully snagged me -- he has such a wonderful way of cultivating existing truth and legend into a beautifully dangerous garden of imagination that once I've finished enjoying the fruit, I wish to dig deeper to explore the very seeds for myself.

Yet another tantalizing tale from "across the pond," The Bones of Avalon was well worth the long read and has left me wondering when I can pencil the second Dr. Dee novel, The Heresy of Dr Dee, into my schedule.


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