Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Whim of the Dragon by Pamela Dean (1989)

The trilogy ends, except it does not, because another book called The Dubious Hills set in this same world has been published, which I've never read, and Pamela Dean is trying to have another one published, a sequel to both The Whim of the Dragon and The Dubious Hills.  At this point, I've probably beat sequels to a pulp in my writings, but Dean's sequels haven't been hideously bad or unnecessary. The two sequels to The Secret Country have felt natural and the writing has remained strong.  Still, if sequels are supposed to solve stuff, tie everything up in a bow, then The Whim of the Dragon  did none of this.  I read The Secret Country and come away with a total brainfreezing WTF just happened; there are so many puzzles within quotes within unicorns; it's all mind boggling literary and I love it.  And then The Hidden Land  is just an extension of this life that loveliness has to sell (I can quote poetry too, Sara Teasdale, although not well, I had to look it up and was going to quote it backwards; see:  smarty pants kids below), and it's even more boggling, and I'm still eating it up with a spoon.  And now The Whim of the Dragon, which is a third book and is supposed to solve everything, leaves the reader with even more questions, more brain punches, more feeling drunk of great writing and more wondering how something so incredibly impossible to fully understand could be so beautiful.  It's art.

Smarty pants kids.  Is it just me, or do the five children become more and more smart as the series progressed.  They were certainly never of average intelligence at any point in the first book, or the second,  but by the third, they are quoting poetry from memory like some sort of bard savant.  I think one of the things I secretly like about these books is a desperate wish to have wanted to grow up surrounded by Teds, Lauras, Patricks, Ruths and Ellens - and having just about as far away as possible from that existence as is possible.  I'm not sure these kinds of kids even really exist - I've certainly never met any.  But the dream of being reborn in the next life, surrounded by people who quote Shakespeare and mean it; but for now a raisin in the sun.


The Whim of the Dragon (The Secret Country, #3)The Whim of the Dragon by Pamela Dean
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How I could both be incredibly and continually and mind-bogglingly stumped after reading these three books, without a clue as to what the hell is going on most of the time, and still be head over heels in love with The Secret Country? I read the first book, several times since I purchased it in the 1980s golden age of fantasy paperbacks, always coming away from it with a sense of sweet strong-writing-induced oblivion; I read the second book, and remain in awe and anger at how beautiful and puzzling the prose could be; And then The Hidden Land is just an extension of this life that loveliness has to sell (I can quote poetry too, Sara Teasdale, although not well, I had to look it up and was going to quote it backwards, and it's even more inconceivable and strange, and I'm still eating it up with a spoon. I imagine in ten years or so from now, Ms. Dean will take me on this adventure again. This trilogy is like a medieval mizmaze for fantasy lovers. The mizmaze was a prayer labyrinth (google it); Pamela Dean's work are a sort of literary prayer labyrinth, forcing the reader to contemplate the beauty and complexity of storytelling and writing.


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