Weaveworld by Clive Barker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book probably deserves a full analysis, going into a full and deep review mode that gives a grand majority of the characters, both good and evil, lots of time to explore ambitions and twists and character growths and failures. I should also go into a twenty-page monologue on how beautiful and strange and wonderful the fantasy elements are, from the sideways-twisted tormenting of christian beliefs, the reimagining of so many mythical elements, the fact that good and evil are never what they seem and they often fly into each other's territories regardless of how the quasi-demons, quasi-fae, quasi-witches, or quasi-humans look or feel on the page.
It's scary. It is a horror. And while so many horrific creatures with truly awesome descriptions grace these pages, we're not allowed to go with all our natural assumptions. We're supposed to go off the deep end and humanize everyone, not that they particularly deserve it or that the exercise is especially rewarding. Non-magical humans are Cuckoos. The magical races are Seers. The magical realm is called the Fugue. Do these descriptions raise a LOT more questions than they answer? Yes? That's because things are really MESSED UP and that's what Clive Barker is really good at. :)
We switch between the real world and the magical one many times during this epic tale. It starts as a firm grounding in the real world with the baddies on the way to unweave the Fugue which happens to be a magic carpet that contains a magical universe, and so we've got adventure... but that's such a small part of the whole book. It goes much farther, into epic battles, ambitious salesmen, ages-old revenge, demons from a glass-darkly garden of eden, angels who are scourges, and cthulhu-like entities everywhere, with heads like wounds and stomachs digesting on the outside. This is Clive Barker, after all.
The world-building is truly amazing, and so is the deep reimagining of all magic. Can you get an idea how disturbing it is when the magic is called the Raptures and the Menstruum? Or that an old necromancer could be brought back as boneless assassins even though it is implied that he was the one who created the Cenobites from Hellraiser? I LOVE these kinds of hints and terrors. Not only does it tie so much else together, it just keeps going on and on being inventive and creative and huge!
And on a side note, I kept thinking about playing one of the Desgaea games again, because I'm SOOO sure that they stole the idea of going into items to level them up from the novel. It would make so much sense! But in this case, it's just a carpet with a WHOLE UNIVERSE inside it. :) :)
Everything in here *is* basically based on christian good and evil, but is so nicely subverted and wrenched out of place that it nicely serves the purpose of real horror. You know, looking at the reflection of a thing and recognize it for what it is, and yet it is so sinisterly *off* that it dredges up a whole slew of emotional reverberations that keep us off balance? Yeah, that's Clive Barker for you.
My only real complaint is that I sometimes got lost in a little boredom between all the awesome bits. I can't honestly say that the book could do without them, tho, because when everything is so intense, I'd also lose the thread of letting it settle and get the implications in. It's a long book, and placing this up against ANY modern dark fantasy epic will probably impress just about anyone if they turn a critical eye upon it. Brilliant is an accurate description. Detailed and far-reaching and extremely-deeply thought-out is another.
I love most of the characters, but I didn't love the null spots. Maybe we needed them for just that extra bit of twisting and fleshing for the characters, but lets face it... there were a LOT of characters to get full-dimensionalized. Hats off. I was immensely fascinated for most of the book and creeped out a great deal of the time, too.
It's my own fault, I think, if I didn't care so much during some of the character's crusades. Fortunately, on the whole, this is a truly magical classic. :)
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