Books have souls. Real books have souls.
The Aegypt Quartet is composed of four books and I read all of them over about two months. Aegypt (later this novel was renamed The Solitudes) is probably the book that I would tattoo all over my body. And did I say I wasn’t reading long books just a moment ago? Combined these four are at least 1500 pages. I had just read a third of the first one when I hurriedly ordered the remaining three, including, accidentally, two copies of Endless Things. Oddly enough, like Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, The Solitudes investigates the alleged loss of magic in our world – but the great power of this book is that not only is it awe-inspiring in itself, but that it actually makes other books better. Jonathan Strange is now a better book in my mind because of what this book said. What kind of magic is that??? I was also hoping that magic would spread to me, and make me a better writer. It could.
Love & Sleep follows, wistful and sombulent, and although I first thought, “This is not as good as the first one, but I have a fondness for it,” it turned out to be even better. As The Solitudes addresses the nature of reality more clearly than any other book I’ve read, Love & Sleep addresses the true nature of magic better than any other fantasy I have ever read… and in fact brought me all the way back to the true magic inherent in one of my oldest and most beloved books, A Wrinkle in Time.
Love & Sleep leads you to believe that the main character Pierce Moffat is shortly on his way to Europe, but his adventures take a darker, more twisted and scarier turn in Daemonomania. What is the difference between connection, love, and possession? Not that much, when you examine them too closely for comfort, but still with amazing pleasure. And what is the Meaning gleaned from the repetitive natures of reality and magic as they invade one another? It depends on whether you are the Ass or the Heretic, I suppose.
And as I turn onto the street of the last book, Endless Things, the quartet takes on a new meaning: not only does it make other books better, does it make any other book needed? I find myself wondering if there any point in writing another book after reading these, just as Pierce Moffatt decides that the author he studies has already written the book he wanted to write… Endless Things examines the relationship between past, future, words, stories, and reality. The historical parts did get a little dusty for me, but there were moments in this book where I felt like I was experiencing new emotions.
Will I ever be able to write again after reading this? Or even read anything else? Only time will tell.
Lessons Learned: If you know your book or story doesn’t have a soul, don’t write it.
And he would not sleep again until he woke: visit John Crowley.