Wes's Reviews > Voice of the Fire

Voice of the Fire by Alan Moore
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Jul 06, 12


A masterpiece of voice, a vivid evocation of place, and a damn good piece of storytelling, this book is rewarding on every level, plain and simple. Moore drapes himself in 12 different personae (well 11 really, the final section is autobiographical...though, as he's careful to note, still fiction) beginning in 4500 BC and leading up to the present day, all of them inhabitants of or visitors to Northampton England. Some of these characters are based on historical figures, others are total fabrications, all of them are very real for the reader. Moore accomplishes this by thoroughly inhabiting the main character in each section. Never do you feel that you're reading the work of a 20th century author conjecturing what a Roman centurion or a knight of the crusades might have thought, rather you feel that you're privy to the actual internal monologues of those characters. Fools, sociopaths, prostitutes, nobles, nuns and insane poets all get their due though perhaps the most important character is Northampton itself. It's a delight to see an event described in the stone age grow into a local legend, eventually to be referenced as an almost forgotten nursery rhyme thousands of years later. In looking at these characters and this locale Moore is able to sketch and comment on the very growth of human civilization. We see a few pawns vividly and from there we get a hint of the elaborate chess game (battles, blunders, triumphs, losses and all) that we've had to play against our own nature in order move from stone agers trying to forge a path and make a home in a world they don't understand to modern day urbanites trying to do much the same. Everyone will enjoy some of the chapters more than others, but none of them fails and all are compelling. Moore has done something special here.
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