Monday, May 18, 2015

One Bright Star to Guide Them, by John C. Wright

Castalia House, September 2014

This wants so badly to be an allegorical fable in the manner of C.S. Lewis's Narnia. And it fails so, so badly.

Years ago when they were children, Tommy and his three friends went on an adventure to a magical land and helped defeat evil and restore the true king, to the benefit of Earth as well as the magical realm. Now, with a boring job in the City, he's just gotten a promotion that he doesn't want, and a momentary encounter reminds him of his forgotten adventure. Suddenly, the magical cat Tybalt is with him again, with the Key that will send him off on a new adventure to confront a worse crisis.

This could have been so promising.

There's nothing especially original here, but that's the least of it. Tommy goes to see one of his old friends, Richard, and the initial conversation is downright painful. The Tommy we've seen so far can't be this naive and oblivious. Then he starts being wise and experienced again. And when things continue to spiral out of control as Richard betrays him to the evil powers, the chapter ends with Tommy flat on his back, unable to see or move.

The next chapter starts several months later, with Tommy visiting another old friend, Sally, and telling her what happened.

It's a perfect example of Tell rather than Show, and things don't get better from there. Altogether frustrating.

Not recommended.