Ex Libris Kirkland

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First Written 2006
Genre Scifi
Origin US
Publisher Tor Books
ISBN-10 0765300966
ISBN-13 978-0765300966
My Copy library copy
First Read April 04, 2010


I have no idea who recommended this to me, but it's shocking how many of my idle interests it combines. Medeival Europe during the time of the great explorations, pseudo scifi elements, and enough untranslated Latin and Deutsch to challenge what little I remember.

The plot is basically thus: strange visitors appear in a remote Black Forest village. Where do they come from? What do they want? Interspersed with this is the story of two modern-day scientists, independently researching the history of this village and the shape of space-time dimensions. Weird? Yes.

Our hero is Pastor Dietrich, who after being educated by the brightest minds of Paris has retired to a quiet life in the Schwartzwald. Dietrich is just learned enough to speak intelligently with the visitors, and one of the book's pleasures is its many 'Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court' moments. The visitors explain interdimensional travel, light speed, microbes, electricity, and Flynn makes a compelling case for why somebody with a 14th century mind wouldn't be so ignorant as we might think, if he had a patient teacher.

Flynn knows a great deal about the medieval worldview, and spins it into a pretty convincing environment. Whenever I read fiction set in the past, I want it to feel like a foreign country, and this definitely passes that test.

It was really nice to see Dietrich's faith get such an unaffected treament throughout the book. Our hero leans heavily on God, and Flynn doesn't write this off or patronize. When the pastor first sees the visitors in a scene full of awe and terror, Dietrich prays for help - not just for deliverance but understanding. While others are running or reaching for weapons, Dietrich gets an inkling that these monsters may not be just the demons they appear: "God give me the grace to understand."

Noted on April 10, 2010

Ex Libris Kirkland is a super-self-absorbed reading journal made by Matt Kirkland. Copyright © 2001 - .
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