Thursday 13 March 2008

My prescription for getting over nasty colds

Uggg. I've been sick for over a week now with this nasty cold that's going around Toronto laying low half the populace. I made it through a job interview yesterday on the sheer force of adrenalin but started coughing my head off again as soon as I left the building. I just can't stop coughing and have been plagued by some seriously ungood headaches (yes, they're so bad they require a new word to describe them, but a fake word to reflect how unnatural they are).

I already had 3 other books on the go when I got sick but I just can't read books about spirituality, vegetarianism, or anything by A.S. Byatt when I don't feel well. Indeed, the only thing I'm able to read while ill is a really good yarn, preferably with either dragons, supernatural goings-on, or murders most foul.

Luckily, Mary Stewart's The Crystal Cave satisfies 2 of those 3 requirements AND is an Arthurian tale (which I love), so I've spent much of the last week curled up in a blanket, reading this book, and drinking my famous toxic tea for keeping away both germs and vampires.

(Colleen's toxic tea: add to tea (should be ginseng, echinacea, or ginger tea) 3 chopped cloves of raw garlic, 4 generous shakes of cayenne pepper, about a tablespoon of lemon juice, and some agave nectar or other sweetener to help the medicine go down. Mmm mmm good (for health, not for entertaining)).

I'm definitely on the mend and this is marked, I suppose, by my completion this afternoon of The Crystal Cave which, to put it bluntly, is a really damned good read. The writing is awesome and the story moves at an engaging but not too hurried pace. I love Arthurian tales, but this is one I've never before read any version of: Merlin's childhood and early adulthood, told from his perspective.

And his perspective is a very compelling one, so compelling in fact that it's (for me, anyway) almost impossible to decipher his true beliefs and feelings from the image of himself he creates for others and the lies he tells himself in order to justify what he's doing. Yes, I think I am, in fact, asserting that Stewart has successfully created what appears to be a complex psychology in a character (definitely not a feature of the other Arthurian tales I've read!). This alongside the fact that Stewart actually thanks Geoffrey of Monmouth (c.1100-c.1155) in the back of the book makes me feel like I've met a kindred spirit in nerdiness.

According to Wikipedia (the essence of truthiness), Geoffrey of Monmouth "was one of the major figures in the development of British History and the popularity of tales of King Arthur." I knew this but I didn't know that he wrote a history of Merlin's early life called the Prophetiae Merlini, which must be what Stewart was drawing her inspiration from (looks like I have more reading to do - yay!). She writes fantasy and she reads medieval romances - even nerdier/sexier! I'll be a fan for life. (The pic is from a 13th-century copy of Monmouth's book on Merlin and it shows Merlin prophesying to Vortigern.)


Terry (@GameCouch) said...

Stephen Lawhead has a great Merlin cycle (Taliesin, Merlin, Arthur, Pendragon, Grail). I also tried Nikolai Tolstoy's The Coming of the King: The First Book of Merlin, but found it very dense.

Bookphilia said...

Thanks for these recommendations - I'm overwhelmed and very appreciative!

Terry (@GameCouch) said...

Glad to help. This is a wonderful blog!


Bookphilia said...

Thank you! I really appreciate your kind feedback. :)