Pavane by Keith Roberts
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I was reading this because my literature journey was taking me along the path of SF Masterworks, but I was surprised to see that Gaiman had a foreword to it, to sum: the short story of Father John fucked me up.
So, of course, I had to read this astounding story that would give Gaiman nightmares.
What I discovered was nothing more than a series of 6 independent tales all set within an alternate history where the Protestant Reformation never took, where Queen Elizabeth was assassinated, and the Holy Catholic Church successfully kept technology repressed to a grand degree. And our modern ages are still full of castles and poverty with some slight oddities like steam-powered track-less locomotives, complicated semaphores, and unrest.
Every tale was fascinating to me, but let's just say that Father John was, indeed, a mind-blower. To put into context, this novel in six parts was given to us in 1968. I can EASILY imagine Gaiman stylizing his own writing to emulate or even perfect Father John in his own vein. I very much enjoyed these literary connections. It enriches both.
Overall, I think this is definitely one of the best, most mysterious, and thoroughly pervasive alternate histories that I've read. We're steeped in characters who are very much a product of their time and place. But what makes it really special? The old gods, just waiting in the wings, subverting the Holy Catholic Church. *rubs hands together* Delightful!
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