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Book Title: Minerva Wakes|
The author of the book: Holly Lisle
Date of issue: December 1st 1993
ISBN 13: 9780671722029
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 923 KB
Edition: Baen Books
Read full description of the books Minerva Wakes:Lisle is a writer I'd never read before; but, intrigued by the theme of a mother putting her life on the line to rescue her kidnapped kids, I bought this book at a flea market as a Mother's Day gift for my wife. When the type proved too small for her to read comfortably, I agreed to read it aloud to her. That proved to be fortunate; by common consent, I normally edit out the cussing in books I read out loud. Since this book is significantly flawed by bad language, including a number of uses of the f-word (most of this occurs in the two main character's unspoken reflections; they don't use it as much verbally unless they're stressed --though Lisle's plot is plenty stressful-- and not at all in front of their kids), my editing contributed greatly to her considerable enjoyment of the book. But since this review is of the written text, not the unauthorized "audio version" :-), the question is, does it have any merits that recommend it enough to compensate for the language problem?
IMO, it did; in fact, I would have given it four stars but for the language. True, Lisle's invented fantasy cosmology leaves plenty to be desired. In her literary vision, a multiverse of universes is threatened by the Unweaver, a malevolent personification of galactic entropy who aims to bring about the ultimate death of the cosmos, an event as inevitable as Ragnarok was thought to be in Viking myth (though, in this case, the mythology the author is working with is that of modern pseudo-scientific materialism). He is opposed by Weavers, a pair of artistic individuals who keep him at bay by their creativity, supernaturally enhanced by magic rings that give them nearly God-like powers. Minerva and Darryl, unknown to themselves, are the current Weavers, having picked up their rings of office years before at a Renaissance Fair as wedding rings --but the rings were meant for another couple. Not deeming them up to the job, a bevy of sorcerers from another dimension wants them dead so they can be replaced, and the Unweaver wants them dead, period.
Obviously, the fact that Lisle has no trouble envisioning a personal transcendent power of cosmic evil, but can't picture a personal transcendent power of cosmic good, speaks volumes about the limitations of her vision; recognizably, this is a cosmology for materialists who aren't happy with the limits of materialism, but feel stuck with them anyway. As ultimate values, human self-sufficiency and whistle-in-the-dark optimism is about the best the author can offer. But it may be more constructive here to view the glass as half-full, rather than carp that it's half empty. In the face of a bleak cosmology, Lisle's message is life-affirming and moral; and it does express a very real yearning for cosmic beauty and meaning (reminding this reader of Paul's address to the Athenians --"What you worship without knowing, we proclaim to you...."). She affirms that love, loyalty and courage do matter, and do make a difference; Minerva and Darryl here are part of a long tradition in literature of unlikely heroes who find resources in themselves that they didn't know they had. They also learn lessons; because while this novel will take them to another world, it is anything but "escapist" in its facing of the typical problems of typical real-world couples. They've forsaken their dreams in exchange for material things that don't satisfy; and they've both allowed their closeness and love for each other to erode, and drifted apart to the point that Darryl, at the beginning of the book, is on the cusp of infidelity. And to her credit, Lisle doesn't excuse or glamorize the infidelity; she portrays it as every bit as self-hurtful, shabby and emotionally damaging as it really is. Her message certainly does espouse "family values."
Apart from the bad language, there are a number of stylistic pluses here. Lisle's characterizations are original and sharp; Minerva in particular is genuinely likable. I read much of this book in the car on an over 200-mile-each-way trip to visit family; normally I have to fight sleep a lot of the time as I try to read in that setting. That I didn't even once on that trip says something about Lisle's prowess as a story-teller; her plot is absorbing and suspenseful, and leavened with humor that's often laugh-aloud funny --though I wouldn't characterize this as "humorous fantasy" (and still less with one critic's adjective, "breezy"); the emotional and physical trauma and fear the characters, especially the kidnapped kids, have to go through is too real, and too vividly-drawn, for that. This author deserves to be better known in the field of contemporary fantasy than she is!
Read information about the authorHolly Lisle has been writing fiction professionally since 1991, when she sold FIRE IN THE MIST, the novel that won her the Compton Crook Award for best first novel. She has to date published more than thirty novels and several comprehensive writing courses. She has just published WARPAINT, the second stand-alone novel in her Cadence Drake series.
Holly had an ideal childhood for a writer…which is to say, it was filled with foreign countries and exotic terrains, alien cultures, new languages, the occasional earthquake, flood, or civil war, and one story about a bear, which follows:
“So. Back when I was ten years old, my father and I had finished hunting ducks for our dinner and were walking across the tundra in Alaska toward the spot on the river where we’d tied our boat. We had a couple miles to go by boat to get back to the Moravian Children’s Home, where we lived.
“My father was carrying the big bag of decoys and the shotgun; I was carrying the small bag of ducks.
“It was getting dark, we could hear the thud, thud, thud of the generator across the tundra, and suddenly he stopped, pointed down to a pie-pan sized indentation in the tundra that was rapidly filling with water, and said, in a calm and steady voice, “That’s a bear footprint. From the size of it, it’s a grizzly. The fact that the track is filling with water right now means the bear’s still around.”
“Which got my attention, but not as much as what he said next.
” ‘I don’t have the gun with me that will kill a bear,’ he told me. ‘I just have the one that will make him angry. So if we see the bear, I’m going to shoot him so he’ll attack me. I want you to run to the river, follow it to the boat, get the boat back home, and tell everyone what happened.’
“The rest of our walk was very quiet. He was, I’m sure, listening for the bear. I was doing my damnedest to make sure that I remembered where the boat was, how to get to it, how to start the pull-cord engine, and how to drive it back home, because I did not want to let him down.
“We were not eaten by a bear that night…but neither is that walk back from our hunt for supper a part of my life I’ll ever forget.
“I keep that story in mind as I write. If what I’m putting on paper isn’t at least as memorable as having a grizzly stalking my father and me across the tundra while I was carrying a bag of delicious-smelling ducks, it doesn’t make my cut.”
You can find Holly on her personal site:
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