Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Fine Blend

I finished reading Dave Duncan's The Reluctant Swordsman moments ago. Coming in at just under 300 pages, it is a quick read. The story is constructed around it's protagonist, a man who has transmigrated from his own dying corpse, on Earth, into the body of a dead man in a secondary world. Through the course of the story, the protagonist realizes that his own values, morals and opinions have less place in this world than the one from which he came. His values clearly clash with the prevailing culture and, from time to time, nearly cost him his life. While he begins to learn how to exist in this world, without utterly betraying his conscience, he begins to be effected while concurrently making an impact.

The Bad: I'm not sure I found anything bad at all. The story, characters, theme, action and other various sundries were fine. That all having been said, there was something that kept it from being truly great. I would say that it is the immediate locale within which this first book takes place. The reader gets one town, with temple and jail, for the entire tale.

The Good: The characters and storyline were above average. The truly noteworthy item was the depth and breadth of knowledge of the author. Without knowing such things myself, I might have skipped right over it. However, it is clear to me that Duncan is well versed in many matters. Given the exploration of the mysteries of faith by the protagonist, I would guess that the author is Catholic. Now, whether or not I would be right, it's clear to me that Duncan has, at least, had some formal, spiritual exposure. Also, I would guess that the author is well versed in Asian history. The story reads like an amalgam of Confucian legalism/meritocracy and Japanese bushido. As a student of history, I truly enjoyed the protagonist's dilemma regarding his rose-tinted, twentieth-century glasses view of society and culture. I often find people's historical arrogance/ignorance astounding (e.g. the currently PC vilification of historical figures - Christopher Columbus, et. al.). I am very interested to see what becomes of the protagonist and this part of the storyline as it proceeds.

Next Up: There is no Spotlight this week. I'm going to remain within Duncan's Seventh Sword series and read book two, The Coming of Wisdom.

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