by Richard Monaco
This is the second book I've finished for the 9 for '09 Challenge. It fit in the category of a used book I bought. It's almost disappointing to say how relieved I was to finish it! I have the same ambiguous feelings about The Grail War as I did with Parsival- much of the book confuses or disgusts me, but at the same time something about the way Monaco crafts a sentence and brings alive the gritty details is very compelling. I could feel the thick mud sucking down the feet of people plodding across the countryside on poorly kept roads. I could feel the bitter wind and biting rain hammering down, and later the choking smoke and stink of burning villages laid waste by warfare. By the time I reached the book's end, its structure had finally become more clear to me. It is a tale set in the aftermath of King Arthur's death, the kingdom ravaged by war and chaos. Several of the key characters are seeking to lay hands on the grail- Parsival to find the thing he had once held and lost, the evil Clinschor (who reminded me of Darth Vader) to wield its power, and the wise peasant Broaditch drawn on by visions he doesn't quite understand, yet puts full faith in. The storyline also includes the wife of Broaditch and some other minor persons, and it jumps back and forth frequently between them all, even before closing a scene or chapter (which can really get annoying. It's like having commercial breaks in the middle of your book all the time, only instead of zoning out on products, you're suddenly wondering whose shoes you're standing in now, and what happened last time you were with this person, just a few pages back.) Parsival's character has grown more solemn. He tries to avoid senseless fighting, but hasn't at all lost his weakness for women. I found it a lot easier to sympathize with Broaditch; even though I failed to understand why he was compelled to go on his journey, at least his goal was fairly straightforward and his path easy to follow. Those of the other characters were a lot more convoluted and unclear.
Has anyone else read this book? I'd dearly love to hear your opinion, and perhaps some clarification.
Rating: 2/5 ........ 319 pages, 1979