By DRIES BRUNT
Dark Blood by Christine Feehan 2
The Madagaskar Plan by Guy Saville 6
Hour Of Darkness by Michéle Rowe 6
The Hunter’s Kind by Rebecca Levene 2
Ever since Lord Of The Rings, writers have tried to emulate Tolkien’s plot. Middle Earth has become a template for some sort of a netherworld in which humanoid beings become the heroes and villains. Dark Blood stretches the imaginative power of the reader beyond the limit of any kind of credibility and thereby fails, to me, to be of any interest whatsoever. Feehan’s effort to create fictional reality by introducing a foreign language and healing chants fails. The portrayal of a living world, inhabited by revitalised beings from the dead, is totally unconvincing.
An alternative future: World War Two ends with Hitler victorious and making a deal with England about dividing real estate. The Nazis occupy large parts of Africa and transport six million Jews to Madagascar. This is the background for the amazing The Madagaskar Plan. How does the future unfold from there? What is happening to the Uhuru dreams of the African people? The plot is based on true history, when the Nazi dream of retaking and expanding colonial territory was seriously planned. Mittel Afrika would be the new lebensraum for German settlers. This scenario is a treasure trove for plot expansion with questions galore in one’s mind. This is not such a fantastical vision, either, because in the early stage the outcome of WW2 hang in the balance.
Earth Hour, when people switch off the lights as a token of their Green Planet support, starts the whodunit plot in Hour Of Darkness, set in one of Cape Town’s exclusive gated communities. The book portrays all levels of social life in the city, from the destitute to the Top Billing crowd, occupying themselves with whatever people do to survive or entertain. The main character is a police detective who has to sort out the leads from the lies. How refreshing to meet this cop and colleagues, depicted as hard-working, dedicated, professional people. This is a great story that, apart from being an enjoyable read, also delves into the heart of Cape Town society, showing its complexity and diversity.
I picture fantasy literature (as well as science fiction) as a colourful balloon, held by a child, fluttering in the wind. It sways and swirls but the child holds the line and the balloon is connected. That’s how I pictured Alice in Wonderland. The important thing is that I can connect with Alice’s adventures, likewise with The Lord of the Rings‘ plot. Hunter is different. Levene creates, in The Hunter’s Kind fictional unreality, in the post-modern style of fantasy literature. Weird characters, mutated creatures, strange happenings and crazy plots, fill the pages. The line is cut and the balloon disappears in the blue yonder. For me the story has lost connectivity and has lost me as a reader. Fictional unreality does not work for me. Of course there’s good writing and for those who are intrigued by fantasia novels there’s good value. What does this do for me, reviewing this book? It tells me it’s unfair because instead of interested and excited reading, a sense of irritation and at most disinterest, makes me turn the pages. So what does this do for opinion? I can not make a fair judgment. My rating of 2 out of 10 is purely subjective. I suppose that’s my rating for fantasy literature as a literary genre in general. Have a go at it yourselves and see if you can connect.