The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Re-read October 11, 2019
Just in case you might think that a book like this might lose its flavor or lessen my enjoyment three years after the last read, or it being the third read with the third-read blues, check your expectations at the door.
I still freaking love this book.
It has everything I could ever want. A mastermind plan or three. Godlike powers. A mystery, a revenge story, a freaking humorous and heartbreaking debacle including lions, dogs, and a very special man in a tu-tu, and a library that is so much more than a library.
Where both rage and love can be the energy source of suns, and bitch-slapping lionesses is perfectly acceptable behavior. Or where standing up for yourself can usually mean several dozen suicides. Sequentially. For one man.
Damn, I love this book. It has not lost any of its flavor. I could keep reading this every single year and still love it. It's definitely one of my all-time favorites. :)
Re-read October 14, 2016
I read this one back in September of last year and loved it enough to drop it into my Top 100 list. I've been thinking about it off and on ever since then. And I just had to re-read it for the Halloween season, too. It just fits oh so well! :)
Did it hold up to my beefed-up expectations? Did it lose any of the fires of ultimate agony or any of its Asshole Buddhism? Hello, No. :) I still love it.
I've never loved lions as much as I have in this book. I've never been more surprised to discover a love story, either, or an actual loving Father in Adam Black, the man who by all rights should go down in all literature as the most fucked up villain of all time.
All the oddness of this book, its sheer creativity, blows me away. All its characters become real and archetypes and real all over again, wrenched from all those endlessly tired grounds to become something new and fantastic again.
You want to see the training of gods? You want to participate in a war of gods? From their point of view? Well, welcome yourself to this book, my friend. It's not for the weak of heart. The stakes are really high. Maybe higher than any but the strangest and strongest SF or Fantasy out there, and the wrap-up is frankly an even more awesome story than all the action that came before it.
Expect an evolving story of unsurpassed creativity and courage.
And even though the deaths, more deaths, and even more deaths, of world-eating plagues and starvation, of the snuffing out of the sun and the raising of a new one, it's kinda odd... that this is strangely one of the most up-beat and hopeful of Fantasies or Science Fiction or Horror that I've ever read. :)
I might just have to make this a tradition and read it every year just for the plain joy of it. :)
This one is going to be a difficult review because I love it so much.
I'm not going to have Steve warm my bones under his light, anymore. I'm not going to have the thunder out of the east to have my back. But in the end, it is in Carolyn I trust. I have faith in her, and I'll have to have faith in her for the rest of my life.
Confused? Read the book. You'll know what I mean afterward. :)
My word, I can't get over how much new mythology that Mr. Hawkins crammed into such a short book, or how much of it wormed its way into my brain. I haven't been this enthused about any book like this since American Gods, and I have to admit this is a BETTER EXPRESSION than even that.
Gods walking the earth is one thing, but to actually watch them perform an infinite regression of events to create their own successors in such a way that the poor sap doesn't even realize it until long after the big battle is a scale of craft that ought to be left to actual gods, and not some person named Scott Hawkins, who, out of the blue, blew my mind by actually pulling it off.
I cried after Carolyn succeeded in getting her revenge, and I cried again after I realized what she had become by doing so. I don't need a heart coal to see me through to the end, though. I just cried like a little baby when Steve finally succeeded.
This is an IMPORTANT work. It's going to stick in my mind for a damn long time, and even now the story is continuing in my hindbrain, either resurrected endlessly, or a victim of the Black Book. Or, maybe worse than any of that, it's going to stay with me because I Never want to let the story go.
I'm recommending this for the Hugos for next year. It's not quite fantasy. It's more SF, and even Carolyn laughs at the notion of magic, so there you go. This novel is officially replacing my current top pick of Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson, too.
I am absolutely amazed by what I have just read, and I'm bumping this one up to one of my top ten novels of all time. It's just that good.
Oh yeah, and if I ever get a chance to bitch-slap a lioness, you know I'm going to be blaming this novel. Just saying.
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