Melissa McShane's Reviews > The Drawing of the Dark

The Drawing of the Dark by Tim Powers
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's review
Jan 13, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: fantasy, own, historical-fiction, mythology, secret-history, arthurian-mythology
Read from March 19 to 21, 2012

My opinion (and rating) hasn't changed since the first time I read this: it's a decent but uninspired novel, with a straightforward plot and excellent writing craftsmanship. You can see the beginnings of the kind of story Tim Powers has since become famous for, even though it's your basic Arthur/Merlin story with some unique touches.

The fundamental message is that beer is the foundation of Western civilization and has the power to change the world, but I'm sure beer drinkers everywhere already knew that. Distilling the book's theme that far makes it seem as ridiculous as any book does when its plot is reduced to essentials, but although it isn't that ridiculous, it is a little pedestrian in places. Irishman Brian Duffy accepts a job to work as "bouncer" at an inn in Vienna, but he's really part of a larger battle between good and evil, between the true king of the West (the Fisher King) and his Eastern counterpart (never identified). The goal is to keep the inn from being destroyed by Suleiman's forces before October 31, when the rich and magical Dark Herzwesten beer can be tapped and its power used. Since Duffy learns these facts at Eastertime, the book drags in the middle as we wait out the months until All Hallows' Eve. Ultimately, Powers's skills with the written word and excellent descriptive powers keep The Drawing of the Dark from being merely average; to me, it serves mainly as the promise of the extraordinary brilliance of The Anubis Gates.
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