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Book Review: Quietly in Their Sleep by Donna Leon

The Death of Faith by Donna Leon (UK edition)

Normally I would not suggest a book that is in the middle of a series, but the way that Donna Leon writes makes it a good introduction to the labyrinthine world of Vienna. Commissario Guido Brunetti comes to the aid of a young nursing Nun who has runaway after suspecting five of her elderly patients have been murdered. The readers are introduced to the inner workings of the church and the various groups connected it to. But while the deaths are suspicious, there is no evidence of criminal activity, and yet something sinister seems to be occurring. But when corruption is the rule of law, how can one fight against it?

Quietly in Their Sleep is volume five of a 30 volume series. The first volume was published in 1992 and the latest in 2021. Oddly enough, these books, by the author’s request, are not published into Italian. If you are looking for a thought provoking, slow burner series, this is a good one to read.

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BookReview: The DarkLord of Derkholm by Diana Wynn Jones

Have you ever read a fantasy novel and wanted to live in that world? Many people have going so far as to learn a language, make costumes and role play within the stories. But what most people want to do is live the life of the main character or part of their crowd. The odds are if you are put into that world you will not be the hero. You would be one of the ordinary people of that world. It still might be fun, or will it?

In The Darklord of Derkholm people from our reality travel to another planet to Larp (live action role play) as adventurers defeating the big evil. The adventure parties go on the adventure and then go home, but the people of this world are tired of this. 50 years ago they had signed a contract with an off-worlder, Mr Chesney, who had trapped them with these tours. Forced to host multiple campaigns has caused their cities to be destroyed, people maimed & killed and crops to fail. Their planet is being destroyed and there is no clear way out of the contract.

Every season a new “Dark Lord” is chosen and this time it is the mild mannered Derk, a wizard who specializes in genetics and creates new animals. His wife is now the Glamorous Enchantress and has to work on the other side of him. Derk is thought to be a bumbling fool due to his inability to do magic correctly, but he has come up with ways to save the herd animals (flying pigs and horses) from the adventurers, along with creating some griffin children.

Told from many different perspectives, this book is an amazing tale. It takes a look at the darkness of the human condition (off-worlders doing whatever they want because it “isn’t real.”) and the brightness (how the inhabitants of this world band together to save themselves). It is a very well written story that can be enjoyed by adults and teens alike.

It is worth mentioning that Jones and The Dark Lord of Derkholm won the 1999 Mythopoetic Fantasy Award in the children’s section.

So if you are a fantasy fan, or would just like the chance to see things from another point of view, this is the book for you.

Happy Reading.

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Book Review: The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec

One of the most compelling and frustrating things about Religious Mythology tales is the lack of what seems like important knowledge. Since all of them that we have today started as oral tales, the tellers had the chance to modify things for the audience. Of course when they were finally transcribed into a written language and then translated into a more “popular” one phrases were left out and other influences crept in. This has left some interesting situations which are brushed aside.

In the Christianity Mythos after killing off his brother, Cain is marked by God and is sent away across the wasteland where he finds a wife. But there were only four humans: Adam, Eve, Able, & Cain and Able was now dead. So where did this wife come from?

In Greek Mythos the question of what the fate of the children of Coeus and the other siblings of Cronus was.

In Turkic mythos the fate of Ashina’s 9 siblings (all born of the she wolf and the human she nursed to health) is never explained.

In the Norse Mythos what happened to the brother’s of Odien? Who was the mother of Loki’s unnatural children? Where did the wolves who chases the sun & moon come from? How do some of the Gods survive Ragnarökr and the creation of a green new world?

And the same occurs in the many mythos of our world. People and places are mentioned in passing and never thought to be important and yet there is something that calls to us to inquire about them.

In her book Gornichec takes some of those forgotten issues and weaves them together into a compelling tale of trauma, betrayal and power. In the Edda Loki’s wife is mentioned “She was always a delight to wicked women.” But is that the view of the winner? Would Odien and the Asier mention the good qualities of the woman who sired the beings that bring about their deaths?

And what of her side of the story? Why would she do what she did?

This book answers these questions by starting in the middle of her tale, which was also the beginning of the Asier tale. We are introduced to Gullveig who is burned and suffering from trauma induced memory loss wandering in a dead forest trying to decide if she should survive. The arrival of Loki with her stolen heart (literally) causes her to take a new name, Angrboda, and start her life as a new person. But her previous role as a “powerful witch who did interesting things” follows her across the ages and makes her into an unwilling pawn for the prophesy. Her struggle to reclaim her self and become a more powerful piece on the board of life & death is an amazing read that resonates in all of us.

How closely this work is to the forgotten myths we will never know, but sometimes it is true that the story left out is the better one to be told.

Happy Reading.