It is a curious thing how much we credit a book merit based upon expectation and experience of a writer. Wolfe is "the most important writer in the SF...moreIt is a curious thing how much we credit a book merit based upon expectation and experience of a writer. Wolfe is "the most important writer in the SF field" my book tells me. His achievements and qualities are exposed with exuberance on the outer shell of the book itself. The effect this has on the reader is an intriguing point of research... I wonder if there is the potential of a pressuring into appreciating Wolfe taking place for some readers.
And then my own experience with Wolfe plays into this, and that experience is... being overwhelmed by the obscured scope of his work... overwhelmed in a good way. The man intrigues me. If a scene seems straightforward and simple, I assume I wasn't reading it properly, and actually 10 things were alluded to that I entirely missed. I love the challenge of trying to unravel Wolfe's works. It could be argued that perhaps Wolfe's intentional obscurement creates almost a false literary depth at times, but in the end, I don't care, I enjoy the puzzle of it all.
Why do I explain these things to being this review? Because if Nightside of the Long Sun were written by another author, or the beginning of a series of which I had no account of greatness expected I may very well not pick up the next book. Which was not to say it was in any way bad. But my prior knowledge of Wolfe gave me more reason to try and look through some of the film he places over his settings and characters.
There is actually a lot to like of this work: a protagonist that I like for one. And you get a few hints of the greater things to come. And yet, if Wolfe wasn't Wolfe, I can't say that I would be sure I would give the next book the time. But since it is Wolfe, I know it will not be time wasted.
Sidenote: while the connection with The Book of the New Sun is not immediately apparent, it does help you fall into the world a bit easier in some ways (possibly harder in others).(less)
Almost as much a historical text on the reformation movement as a theological text due to Luther consistently drawing the line between the Papists and...moreAlmost as much a historical text on the reformation movement as a theological text due to Luther consistently drawing the line between the Papists and himself.(less)
Proves to be almost more of a history of the Crusades with some asides to focus on the Templars through the majority of the book, until it covers the...moreProves to be almost more of a history of the Crusades with some asides to focus on the Templars through the majority of the book, until it covers the trials of the Knights of the Temple of Solomon in the early 14th century to close out the book. All in all, a fun little overview.(less)
Reread of one of my college texts. This work is a good and brief overview of the general movement of the Middle Ages without feeling it necessary to c...moreReread of one of my college texts. This work is a good and brief overview of the general movement of the Middle Ages without feeling it necessary to create an exhaustive account of every detail of history. It works as a good foundational view of the period with which you can add additional meat at your preference (as it was used in my class).
I can't necessarily qualify Keen's scholarship without a great deal more research, but he has a comprehensive bibliography of his sources. Keen's structural theme also gives the temporal framework he places on the Middle Ages, that being the crowning of Charlemagne as Emperor in 800 and the dissolution of the Council of Basel (or as he writes, Basle) in 1449. He cites his primary theme as the focus and unity of Western Europe under Papal rule through this time, and cites the various growths of Monarchic, Nationalist, and Laity powers along with variously caused erosions of Papal power as being the ultimate end of the era as it blurred into the Renaissance.(less)