I finished "The Blackwood" by Wayne Thomas Batson at something like 12-1 o'clock in the morning yesterday. January 4th, that is. After the story, there's a little "surprise." I won't spoil it, but I have to wonder if "The Blackwood" was the wrapping, and the surprise was the real gift.
Not that "The Blackwood" isn't great. IT IS. It is so freaking great. Mr. Batson can spin a fun story like nobody's business. Like Lloyd Alexander, except blatantly Christian, and a little lengthier.
That may not sound like a big deal to you, but it's a compliment from me, believe me.
Oh shoot, I AM going to have to spoil the surprise. It had such an effect on me.
It's a special epilogue to The Door Within series. I'll not spoil it entirely, but, King Eliam says this:
"But in all that time, you were still in my hands. You were never alone. Even if you had fallen, what harm could have come to you?"
Aidan points out he could've died.
"And you did die, Aidan....valiantly. But for my children, death has no sting, no lasting bite. Before your breath ended there, your first breath began here."
There is an unbelievable amount of power in those statements.
It fits with the motto of the series: "Never alone."
I never thought a mere two words could be so powerful.
I think it's something kind of sick how fantasy--quite possibly the bane of the serious critic's existence--is so powerful, especially children's fantasy. I remember seeing once that people think it's only a great children's story if it conveys some great lesson. But a great children's story can also be one that just causes the child to smile.
I agree with that, and not. Lloyd Alexander and Wayne Batson are both chock full of lessons, intended or not. But on the same token, I don't know if there's a greater lesson to Vesper Holly, and I love them anyway (but I never recall calling them great, just fun, so I don't know).
Lloyd Alexander has a lot of powerful statements in his books.
In The Foundling, Dallben is given The Book of Three. He loved knowledge and sought wisdom. He despaired at first when he saw all of the awful things in the book. But then:
"The book lay nearby. Its last pages still unread and, for a moment, Dallben thought to tear them to shreds and scatter them to the wind. Then he said:
"'I have begun it, and I will finish it, whatever else it may foretell.'
"Fearfully and reluctantly, he began to read once more. But now his heart lifted. These pages not only told of death, but of birth as well; how the earth turns in its own time and in its own way gives back what it given it; how things lost may be found again; and how one day ends for another to begin. He learned that the lives of men are short and filled with pain, yet each one a priceless treasure, whether it be that of a prince or a pig-keeper. And, at the last, the book taught him that while nothing was certain, all was possible.
"'At the end of knowledge, wisdom begins,' Dallben murmured. 'And at the end of wisdom there is not grief, but hope.'"
That's powerful. That's dragons can be beaten talk. It's all sorts of wonderful.
And, of course, there's from the Prydain books proper.
"It is easy to judge evil unmixed. But, alas, in most of us good and bad are closely woven as the threads on a loom; greater wisdom than mine is needed for the judging.”
― Lloyd Alexander, The Black Cauldron
I loved that. It's amazing.
“Life's a forge -
Yes, and hammer and anvil, too. You'll
be roasted, smelted, and pounded, and
you'll scarce know what's happening to
you. But stand proudly to it. Metal's
worthless till it is shaped and
tempered. More labor than luck. Face
the pounding, don't fear the proving;
and you'll stand well against any
hammer and anvil.”
― Lloyd Alexander, The High King
I read in another book, a romance, the hero says Jesus may have been a carpenter, but the Father was a blacksmith.
Fine picture, that.
Thought-provoking. Powerful. In children's literature. When I come across things like that, it makes me wish I had read more as a child. Maybe things would've been different, and it makes me wonder if I could've spared myself a lot of heartache.
*Quotes taken from Goodreads and my highlighted notes from my Kindle, no copyright infringement intended.