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Immortal Muse Hardcover – 4 Mar 2014
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Praise for Immortal Muse"Leigh seamlessly inserts his two immortals into history, playing with actual people and events to deliver beautifully-rendered glimpses of different eras. Leigh strikes the perfect balance between past and present, real and imagined." --Publisher's Weekly (starred) "Mythology, alchemy and fantasy all coalesce in Leigh's Immortal Muse, creating the perfect combination for readers looking for their next stellar read. Leigh has masterfully created a fantastical adventure for his audience.... The alternating chapters of past and present will whet readers' appetites for more adventure and intrigue, and will leave them wanting more. The author weaves mythic history with a bit of action, murder and, of course, spice.... Perfect for those craving a bit of intrigue and history." --RT Reviews (top pick) "Sweeping in scope and full of action and danger, this well-constructed historical fantasy takes an original look at the nature of creativity. If Nicholas is slightly mustache-twirly in his evilness, the compelling 'immortal muse' Perenelle more than compensates." --Library Journal "A masterpiece of historical fantasy.... Those looking for a sure-footed, exciting, and thoroughly rewarding race through the history of creativity in the past several centuries--and who doesn't want that?--will not be alone in finding this a book to thrill the passions and mind alike. It is a terrific fantasy, a superlative historical read, and a tragic romance all in one. Highly Recommended!" --SFRevu "Fascinating and compelling, this might find some award nods." --Philadelphia Weekly Press "A unique exploration of art, passion, and love." --Heroes and Heartbreakers
About the Author
Stephen Leigh is a Cincinnati-based, award-winning author with nineteen science fiction novels and over forty short stories published. He has been a frequent contributor to the Hugo-nominated shared world series Wild Cards, edited by George R. R. Martin. He teaches creative writing at Northern Kentucky University. Stephen Leigh has written Immortal Muse, The Crow of Connemara, and the fantasy trilogy Assassin's Dawn. He can be found at farrelworlds.com.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Perenelle Flamel becomes ever-young, but she also needs to feed off of the "green hearts," or the artistic power behind any great writer, painter, etc. or she begins to lose her ability to heal and stay youthful. She roams through the centuries, attaching herself to some famous historical figures that the readers will recognize and inspiring them to their greatest works. She is the Muse. At the same time, her one-husband, Nicholas, is also ever-young, but he needs to feed off misery, pain, and fear. The two are locked in a bitter hatred-need of each other from the 1400's up the the present day, as Perenelle seeks to kill Nicholas and Nicholas seeks to hurt Perenelle by hurting those she loves and needs most.
Overall, I enjoyed the book, but it seemed to drag after a while, which is why I only gave it 3 stars. It deserves 4 stars at least for the idea behind the book, but I started skipping bits after a while because it became a tiny bit tedious...I mean, Perenelle (under a new name) finds someone she loves and inspires, then Nicholas (under a new name) comes along and spoils the whole thing. Then it starts over again. I think if the book could have been chopped by about 100 pgs or so, it would have been way better.
Still, its worth reading, especially for stepping into the imagined lives of famous artists down through the centuries. This would actually probably make a good movie, if the script was more concise.
“Yeah, artists want immortality all right, but the immortality we’re after is the kind you don’t know you achieved because you’re dead when it happens. It’s the work that’s supposed to live forever. Not the artist.”
Complementary Art & Alchemy: Prior 1600, scientists and artists had overlapping interests/skills; scientists had to draw their own data in sketchbooks; conversely, artists had to craft/prepare their own pigments and materials (via chemistry). Artists and alchemists frequented the same apothecaries. The art & science of transmuting materials was a shared goal. Alchemists codified their goal in the substance called the “philosopher’s stone,” which was either the understanding to transmute materials into anything they wanted (i.e. gold)…or the base material itself. Harnessing the power of the stone could also enable one to live forever (in which case the “stone” was called “the elixir of life”).
Immortal Muse blends these complementary disciplines. It is half contemporary fantasy (New York, 2010), and half Historical Fiction, which covers a range of times, European geographies, and art (detailed below). This is an entertaining soap-opera/thriller.
-1400, Paris: Perenelle Flamel & Nicolas Flamel (scribes, alchemists)
-1635, Rome: Gian Lorenzo Bernini (Roman artist &sculptor)
-1737, Vienna: Antonio Lucio Vivaldi (Musician)
-1790, Paris: Jacque-Louis David (Painter)
-1814 England: William Blake, Percy Bysshe Shelly (Poets)
-1900 Vienna: Gustave Klimt (Painter)
-1940 Nice, Italy: Charlotte Salomon (Jewish artist)
Artistic Philosophy: Immortal Muse is chock full of artistic perspectives and shout-outs. I was thrilled for the mentioning my favorite artisanal recipe book : Mappae Clavicula: A Little Key to the World of Medieval Techniques. There is a somber but nicely executed arc regarding the persecution of Jews, beginning with the ~1394 Jewish migration from Paris and ending with Charlotte Salomon’s tragic plight during the Holocaust. There are plenty of moments like the quote below in which an artist is caught between following their muse (and creating something to be shared) and lacking the trust of the audience to care or judge them (or having their art taken away).
“Ana let the pages of the sketchpad fall back and handed it to [Charlotte]. She pressed it to her chest as if she’d never expected to have it returned.”
Author Stephen Leigh: The writer taps his own artistic experience for this. As a musician and creative writer, who also practices Aikido, it is obvious that he funneled a lot of his own muses in this. I half wonder if there is a bar called the Bent Calloipe in Cincinnati which he plays his guitar. His Immortal Muse is recommended for historical fiction, art philosophy, alchemy buffs, and fantasy enthusiasts.