Tag Archives: Persecution

Briggs, Patricia: Raven duology

“Traveller’s Orders” by Robin Walker

RAVEN’S SHADOW (2004)

Prejudice and fear seem to be recurring themes in Patricia Brigg’s novels. Raven’s Shadow is no exception. In this instance, the Travellers are the persecuted people. We see instances of this today. In general there seems to be a lack of trust towards people who do not stay in one place and become part of the community. It makes it a whole lot easier to blame them for something, as our links to them won’t be a strong as they would be towards a neighbor. Such is the world of Travellers in Briggs Raven duology.

Tier and Seraph are our two main protagonists in Raven’s Shadow. We meet Tier as he is on his way home from the war. Tier is a rebel. His father was a baker and the expectation was that Tier would take over the craft. But Tier wanted to see the world and did that. Unfortunately, he also ended up disillusioned about the state of the world.

As he enters a village he see a large bon-fire in the town square. A Traveller was burned suspected of using magic. Inside the town’s inn the citizens have joined in drinking to their “brave deed”. Left behind is a young woman. The innkeeper has decided to sell the girl to the highest bidder. Tier ends up buying her, Seraph a Raven traveller who has no reason to trust Tier. This is the beginning of the journey of Seraph and Tier, a journey fraught with danger and betrayal – you know the spiel. I liked both Raven’s Shadow and Raven’s Strike. While not complicated, they are easy to read.

Raven`s Strike

“Traveller’s map” by Michael Enzweiler

RAVEN’S STRIKE (2005)

Tier has been rescued and the family is taking it easy on the way home from the Capitol after the run-in with the wizards. Part of the way, they have chosen to travel with Benoin and his tribe. On the way they come to a village where a shadow creature has killed some of the villagers. The creature is taken care of, but the family soon realises that it is just a symptom of what is happening in the land.

At the same time, Tier seems to be having trouble recovering his magic. It seems to be fraying and drawn away from him. Seraph cannot figure out what the problem is, but slowly the family is being led to the ancient city of Collosae – the city where the Travellers came from.

Raven’s Strike gives us more background information on the Travellers and their roots. This background information turns out to be vital to Tier’s ability to solve the puzzle. The romance between Jes and Hennea takes up a bit of space.

Raven’s Strike tied up a few loose ends and was a good follow-up to Raven’s Shadow. They are both typical examples of Brigg’s writing: light, fun and accessible.

Harkness, Deborah: A Discovery of Witches (All Souls) (2011)

The Duke Humfrey’s Library in the BodleianWhen you go to Deborah E Harkness’ website, you will find information not only on her All Souls trilogy, but also on Ashmole 782, alchemy and a reading guide. Deborah teaches history of science and medicine specializing in the period from 1400-1700. As such, Deborah is Diana  Bishop – our female protagonist.

Diana is not only in Academia, she is also a witch with a few issues. In fact, she is an anti-magic witch and tries to use her magic as little as possible. After discovering a disturbing volume in the Bodleian library, Ashmole 782, her magic seems to be having a will of its own. Ashmole 782 zapped Diana somehow and she banishes the book back to the stacks.

Other creatures like herself (witches) and vampires and daemons have a difficult time believing that she has gotten rid of the book and a time of stalking and persecution begins.

Like Deborah, Professor Matthew de Claremont (our male protagonist) also has an interest in history. In his case it is the history of genetics (among other things) that he researches. Because of the zap, Matthew takes an interest in Diana. Matthew finds himself drawn to Diana, and she to him.

I really, really like the fact that A Discovery of Witches stays at Oxford and the Bodleian through a major part of the book. It is highly interesting to read about the feeling of reverence that Deborah has for the library and the important role it plays in society. Words are music and the music of A Discovery of Witches is the kind that enters your soul and leaves you replete.

Diana and Matthew are fun and frustrating characters. In many ways A Discovery of Witches follows the pattern that a great many action and romance books do. The main protagonists are on opposite sides to begin with and through hardship they are brought together and become friends/lovers.

I’ve read complaints about all of the things that I liked about the book – lots of data, frustrating characters, library. Kind of funny really, how different our tastes in books are and how we are drawn to such different facets of them. I would say that this is a non-typical yet typical supernatural story about adventure and identity.

McDermott, J.M.: Never Knew Another (2011)

Never Knew Another” is the first book in the Dogsland trilogy. What a dark and moving novel. We’re not left with a lot of hope for our protagonist after finishing this book. I’ve read complaints about the sudden ending, but I felt it was just right. The cover art fits incredibly well with the mood of the book.

There is no warning. Right off the bat the memories of Jona are drawn out of his skull by the Walker. Walkers are servants of the goddess Erin dedicated to hunting and killing the seed of the demon Elishta. Demon children, half human-half demon, are considered extremely dangerous, polluting whatever they come into contact with. Walkers are wolves with the ability to change into humans. Their ability to “merge into the mind of a dead man” is essential in their battle against half-demons. While delving into the memories of Corporal Jona the Walkers discover that there is another demon seed in the city of Dogsland, Rachel Nolander.

With her brother Djoss, Rachel has to hide her parentage from other humans. Burning is considered the best way to get rid of all traces of the evil that she is supposed to represent. Hiding who she is, is not a simple matter. Continuously on the move, only chance (or perhaps fate) brings her into contact with Jona, the only other demon-seed she has met. The hunt of Rachel becomes the prime objective of the Walkers.

Gilbert, Martin: The Boys – Triumph Over Adversity (1996)

ForsideWhen I read “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” I was once again reminded of the story of 732 Jewish boys and girls whose story Martin Gilbert tells in his “The Boys: Triumph Over Adversity“. One book is from the viewpoint of someone standing outside the suffering while the other one is about the kids who went through hell. I’m not a believer in the many after-life versions of hell, but I am certainly a believer in the human ability to create hell for their fellow humans. In fact, we’re really creative in the many ways we cause others pain, and that worries me.

The Boys: Triumph Over Adversity tells such a story. This is the story of children who (along with their siblings and parents) were uprooted from their homes and dragged into the horrors of the Holocaust. These children were originally from Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. Their lives were the lives of ordinary children with loving parents. As they just below and above ten years old for the most part, these children had no understanding of all of the abrupt changes in their lives. From living in regular homes, they were stuffed into ghettos and then dragged to even worse circumstances.

And then it all ended. No more parents or siblings, all alone in the world after having endured what only few people in the world have had to endure.

After their liberation from the camps, they had to begin rebuilding their lives in Britain. Despite being physically and emotionally drained by their nightmare past, they drew strength from their group. After leaving their hostels, they remained a close-knit and devoted band of siblings. Their families having been destroyed, they created a family among themselves.

So many people ask themselves how something as terrible as the Holocaust could have happened. I doubt there is any one answer to that question. After all, we let history repeat itself all over the world. What I do believe is that we are all capable of becoming something we had never thought was possible. Ervin Staub in his “Roots of Evil” and Max Weber in his “On Bureaucracy” – Iron Cage both try to look at why people are dehumanized and warn us of the consequences.