Clarke has done it again! Piranesi is a magical tale that evokes imagery so real that you are taken on a journey where all your senses are alive. The world in which she has created is obviously influenced by the artist Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s etchings, but Clarke’s writing is so vivid, that one wonders which came first. Does this world truly exist? you find yourself wondering. Only a wizard of words can create such doubt in your own surroundings. I will not delve into the plot as it will only spoil it for future readers, but I will note that this book is very apt in today’s world of Pandemic/isolation, where many of us will emerge longing for a simpler life.
NB. If in Melbourne at any time do visit the State Library of Victoria where there is a substantial collection of Piranesi’s etchings, just make sure you read the book first.
This review based on ARC copy
What is the plot of a novel? According to the Macquarie Concise Dictionary the word Plot means:
- A secret plan or scheme to accomplish some purpose, esp. a hostile unlawful, or evil purpose. (oooh)
- The plan, scheme, or main story of a play, novel, poem, or the like. (I like no.1 better)
The plot is the synopsis you send to the publisher, it’s the blurb on the back of the book that makes you spend your hard earned cash. So, how do you create an award winning, unique plot? If you research the subject you will find countless theories and analogies on the number of possible plot themes from “The seven basic plots”, “Twenty Master plots” and of course the famous “The Thirty-six Dramatic Situations”.
Are these lists any use to the writer? or do they interfere with the creative process and develop fiction devoid of imagination. I believe they have a place in the writing process. For example, my writing starts with an inspiration, an idea, I then develop the characters that can move this idea along and get the story to its conclusion. I’ll start with the beginning and/or end and then flesh out the ups and down of the middle. If inspiration isn’t coming easily there are many exercises writers use to get a basic plot going, but if the task ahead is Herculean and you are a prolific Trollopian writer a list of themes can be a godsend. I have a series, which centres on the same characters, and at times I look to this list for the spark to get a new theme started.
In the interest in serving my fellow writer I have included the 36 plot themes here. These themes were included in the above mentioned book in the 19th century, by French writer Georges Polti, then translated to English in 1916, but the list is credited to Goethe, who credits them to Gozzi from the mid 1700’s.
- Vengeance of a crime
- Vengeance taken for kindred upon kindred
- Falling prey to cruelty or misfortune
- Daring enterprise
- Enmity of kinsmen
- Rivalry of kinsmen
- Murderous adultery
- Fatal imprudence
- Involuntary crimes of love
- Slaying of a kinsmen unrecognized
- Self-sacrificing for an ideal
- Self-sacrifice for kindred
- All sacrificed for a passion
- Necessity of sacrificing loved ones
- Rivalry of superior and inferior
- Crimes of love
- Discovery of the dishonor of a loved one
- Obstacles to love
- An enemy loved
- Conflict with a god
- Mistaken jealousy
- Erroneous judgment
- Recovery of a lost one
- Loss of loved ones
If the dreaded writers block is firmly wedged, I hope this list will be the jackhammer of inspiration –Happy writing.
Sometimes the name of the leading character in a novel can make all the difference to me –I mean how great is the name Katniss Everdeen? I had one of those ‘name moments’ while reading Bridge of Swords by Duncan Lay. The protagonists name is Sendatsu, his name will not leave my thoughts, I keep saying it over and over again, I try to sleep and his name pops into my mind Sendatsu, Sendatsu! Lay has obviously created a memorable character. Its not just names that makes this fantasy novel memorable, Bridge of Swords is the first in the Empire of Bones trilogy, and it is an epic novel with a tale to tell.
Sendatsu is an elf, who passes through a protective barrier that shields the Elfan world from the human world; he was forced into the unfamiliar world to find the answer to the loss of Elfan magic. Sendatsu becomes involved with two humans named Huw and Rhiannon, these two characters provide the novels subplot. Wars are being fought in the human world and no matter how hard Sandatsu tries to stay uninvolved his warrior skills come to the aid of many and his involvement is set.
The plot and subplot explore the themes of power, greed, family and love. The themes are gently woven between the beautiful, cultural, Japanese like Elfan world to the raw, gritty, rough, medieval human world. Duncan Lay is a talented and skilled writer who manages to bring scenes to life. His action scenes are the breath holding, edge of your seat type, that have you page turning for more.
I have some catching up to do as the third book in the series was recently released, but am looking forward to see how the story unfolds.
Valley of Shields (Book 2 Empire of Bones)
Wall of Spears (Book 3 Empire of Bones)