on 2 March 2014
I get the impression that most of the reviewers of this book have not learned how to read Charles Williams. Granted, he had mostly to write his novels quickly and this can tell against their style, but it is important to grasp that he is not a writer for casual reading. His thought is complex, dealing with profoundly theological matters, and he is a highly individual thinker. Often puzzling is his custom of making a significant point in a dense sentence where it might easily be missed. He must be read slowly, and passages may need reading several times before their full import emerges. (Read the Chief Justice's judgement on Universal Law to see what I mean.) I have been re-reading this novel for the first time in many years and have been dazzled by the suggestiveness of his themes. It is not his best novel, but it is one which repays careful study. Also, it must not be regarded as belonging to the "fantasy" category. It is wrestling with the theme of Divine Purpose, and its working out in human lives. A knowledge of Williams' theology will also help in understanding.
on 2 October 2012
Sub-H. G. Wells science fiction.
There are a few flashes of wit, but they are buried beneath piles of turgid prose.
`"He has foreknown that which he is now experiencing?" Lord Arglay asked.
`"I think so," Ibrahim answered. "But though he knew it i do not think it is now within his memory, nor will be until he reaches the end. For to remember the future he must have foreknown the memory of the future, and yet that he could not do without first foreknowing it without memory. So I think he is spared that evil."
You could randomly rearrange all of those words and make as much sense. And there is page after page of this stuff.
on 28 November 2009
Having heard about this book on a radio review programme, I had to have it. Most disappointing. Plot superb, but how can the book be so boring? Am I missing something in it? The language is stilted and does not flow, the characters stereotyped, cardboard and interminably verbose. Somewhat akin to H.G.Wells' Time Machine, the action becomes more and more outlandish (of course it does, it's fantasy) and I reached that dread point in a book when I'm not bothered what happens next.
on 8 January 2010
I generally love a fantasy and like a previous reviewer I too bought this book after hearing a review on I think Radio 4's Book Club. Anyway just like the previous reviewer I failed to finish it. It was so badly written or, perhaps to be fair, just very much of its day, ie. early 1930's. The Radio 4 review was so compelling that I may pick it up again and see if ultimately it was worth it but I doubt it somehow.