Each image is assuredly beautiful. Deep down in the hide world is an ice statue of Fate, and bantam ships stand frozen on her dress. At the cryptic Collector ’ s Club, Allegra assembles the doorhandles of every door to the lower world she has dismantled, and displays them in mobiles hanging from the ceilings. On dorian ’ s back is a gorgeous tattoo, the report of the Owl King. There is no logic that binds these cover girl set piece tableau. cipher explains why the Starless Sea is beloved, or how a beloved sea international relations and security network ’ t broad of dead flies. The novel reads like jury after jury of fabulous illustrations : it expects a certain acceptance of unlikely images, and that ’ s hardly an unfamiliar modality of think. When we look at the 16th-century tapestries of The Lady and the Unicorn, we all know the unicorn is a metaphor, not a real creature with a static and its own issue of apples .
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detail from The Lady and the Unicorn tapestries. Photograph: Michel Urtado/RMN/Grand Palais But this is the very opposite of the world-building logic we normally expect of fantasy write. Terry Pratchett, if not the king then decidedly the aged jester of the illusion royal court, excellently advised that if you ’ re going to write about flying pigs then you ought to consider the traffic disruptions. The Starless Sea refuses to do so. It demands that its readers interpret it in an older way ; the direction we read The Faerie Queene. It is broad of symbols, but symbols denoting what never becomes clear How the reader interprets the recurring figure of the hare, or the mean of the bees, or what the Owl King in truth is, is left wholly to them.
This approach can be exasperating, but normally when a well written book is infuriating, it ’ s because the narrative is yanking at a convention then deep-rooted it seems cardinal to the music genre. I think The Starless Sea does good that. traditionally, fantasy fabrication uses older legends and histories as its basis. canadian writer Robin Hobb ’ s enormously successful Farseer series has recognizable roots in Anglo Saxon and Viking culture, as does Lord of the Rings and countless others. Game of Thrones echoes the Wars of the Roses. american Gods harvests mythologies from everywhere, and Naomi Novik drops dragons into the Napoleonic wars. The shadows of very history and extant legends in fantasy are legion, and they have become standard. The Starless Sea rejects older stories : it makes its own. Its magic is based in the New York Public Library, in glittering hotels, and the beautiful blatant kitsch of a professional fortune teller ’ south house. Rather than a traditional fantasy fresh, this is an artificial myth in its own correct, soldered in concert from the girders of skyscrapers – a myth from and for the US, rather than inherited from older nations. Like any myth, it refuses to decode its own symbols. A proofreader might find this debate vagueness either elate or madden, but the novel ’ randomness telescope and ambition are undeniable . The Starless Sea is published by Harvill Secker ( £16.99 ). To order a copy go to guardianbookshop.com or call 020-3176 3837. detached UK phosphorus & phosphorus over £15, on-line orders only. earphone orders min phosphorus & p of £1.99 .