Wednesday, November 01, 2017

46. Thongor at the End of Time by Lin Carter

So this now is the fourth Thongor book I've read and the last of the set I found at Chainon.  I've now read 1, 2, 4 and 5 of the 6 in total, not counting Young Thongor that came out in 2012 .  The series had been a bit of a slog for me but I am pleased to say that Thongor Against the Gods was actually quite a lot of fun.  There was barely any exposition of past events this time and a much tighter storyline and cast of characters. 

Thongor is now king, married to beautiful Sumia with a strapping son named Thar.  One of the magicians we thought he had killed from Thongor and the City of Magicians had of course survived and was now secretly plotting to get his revenge. At the beginning of the book, Thongor is killed quite suddenly and soon after the queen secludes herself from all her loyalists and sets up this fat, decadent merchant to be in power.  Of course the magician is behind it all and we get two cool storylines: Thongor in the land of the dead and his son and trusted lieutenant on the run with a bunch of pirates.  I particularily enjoyed the pirate storyline.  It was the kind of fantasy setting, that while not original at all, was rich on colourful characters and maritime camarederie.  The return to the city of pirates was a great moment, with the captain striding through the streets of revellers to his favourite tavern. 

I realized as I was reading this that it wasn't just the cliched fantasy tropes that were distancing me from really getting deep into the narrative.  It's also that Carter uses so many adjectives!  I realize that it requires quite a lot of parsing down for my mind to grasp the actual narrative meaning of his sentences and that tires me out and makes my thoughts wander.  Here is a prime example:
Over all the thronged and crowded streets with their jostling, drunken, quarrelsome horde, over all the smokey inns and ale houses, above the narrow roofs and peaked gables, brooded the dark citadel that crowned the crest of the cliffs and thrust squat towers against the storm-dark skies where few stars flashed.
I literally had to re-read this sentence three times before I realized it was trying to tell me that there was a dark citadel brooding over the pirate town.  I appreciate the colourfulness of the descriptions, but he goes way too far.  I also learned that Carter is a very skilled writer and that this style choice is deliberate.  At the end of this book, there is a short essay where he explains the historical sources that inspired Thongor and the world of Lemuria and it is extremely well-written, clear and direct, but not simplistic.

I'm glad I made it this far and while reading the last book I was telling myself I would be done after this one, but I think I will now keep my eye open for the last in the series Thongor Fights the Pirates of Tarakus.

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