Voice of the Fire review ✓ 3

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Voice of the FireMaster storyteller Alan Moore Watchmen delivers twelve interconnected stories of lust madness and ectasy all set in central England and spanning over six thousand years the narratives woven together in patterns of recurring events strange traditions and uncanny visions First a cave boy loses his mother falls in love and learns a deadly lesson He is followed by an extraordinary cast of characters a mur. 'A hind of hill ways off to sun set down is sky come like as fire and walk I up in way of this all hard of breath where is grass colding on I’s feet and wetting they' It's a brave thing to begin your debut novel in the first person voice of a child with developmental issues A child that cannot distinguish dreams from reality; that cannot understand how to lie; that is incapable of looking after himself It's a braver thing too when that's not the focus of the novelAlan Moore is often mentioned as one of the most highly regarded British writers working today and yet this remains his only novel Like Neil Gaiman he had worked almost exclusively as a comic book writer until 1996 Both released their debut novels in that year Neverwhere for Gaiman Good Omens The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter Witch doesn't count here since it was co authored with Terry Pratchett and it was Pratchett that did most of the writing but whereas Gaiman grew a reputation as a Fantasy novelist this remains Moore's only novel to dateMoore's both a proud Englishman and a keen occultist so it should be no surprise that both of those influences weigh heavily on this text His subject is his home town Northampton and his metaphor is fire As a metaphor it's a useful one with many associations bright warming comforting Signal destructive transformative Here it's all of those things sometimes at the same time Mostly though it's the latter; Moore paints a dynamic landscape always changing the coming of agriculture of metals of Romans Vikings Normans all have their place in Moore's narrativeWhere authors such as Edward Rutherfurd emphasise the continuity of a place in their historical works by following different generations of the same family often in the middle of sweeping epochs Moore structures his tale by always casting different unrelated individuals in every chapter and each personal story often occurs at the time of wider social change the first chapters take the structure of the changes listed above A sense of gradual change happening alongside the obvious but superficial changes already mentioned is hinted at by the developing language used in each chapter With each written from the first person perspective of a different character always in the present tense the author builds from the Mesolithic simpleton uoted at the beginning of this review in the first chapter through successive generations of changing language words change develop some disappear and others appear You sense that the words are not just a means for expressing ideas but things which have a life of their own separate from the people and inhabiting their own time scaleThe characters and their stories re appear in the tales of others This might be why some GoodReads users have classified the book as fantasy for my own part though I prefer to see the book as straight historical fiction the reappearance of characters and their happenings occur only in dreams and at times of madness and the characters who see them perceive them only in this context That seems reasonable to me; it's clearly a manifestation of Moore's beliefs in the occult hinted at blatantly in a chapter featuring John Dee as an off screen presence but it's not fantastical per se We know that they are ancient people and events the protagonists do not and do not try to interpret them in this way They're just dreams The only other fantas

review Voice of the Fire

Voice of the Fire review ✓ 3 å Master storyteller Alan Moore Watchmen delivers twelve interconnected stories of lust madness and ectasy all set in central England and spanning over six thousand years the narratives woven together in patterns of recurring events strange traditions and uncanny visions First a cave boy loses his mother falls in love aDeress who impersonates her victim; a fisherman who believes he has become a different species; a Roman emissary who realizes the bitter truth about the Empire; a crippled nun who is healed miraculously by a disturbing apparition; an old crusader whose faith is destroyed by witnessing the ultimate relic; two witches lovers who burn at the stake Each related tale traces a path in a journey of discovery. Moore does for Northampton what he did for London in From Hell He draws an arcane map of his hometown accreting layer upon layer of time and circumstance The book is composed of twelve stories starting in 4000 BCE and ending in 1995 One of the tricks Moore uses in his work is proving connections between disparate things by using repeated themes Here as in From Hell he uses actual historical figures for the most part as his characters Or at least actual architectural and other artifacts of Northampton And a bit of research on the internet tells me that the historical figures are indeed connected by the themes as Moore suggestsHis thesis is that there's an active accessible underworld that can be accessed if we only knew the symbols and could whisper the angel language The repeated symbols include the antlered witch man lame or missing legs decapitated heads monstrous dogs a whispered unearthly language men with multiple wives and fire Moore is a self described magician not an illusionist but an honest to Baphomet sorcerer and he closes the book with he himself performing a ritualReaders who like experimental prose will enjoy deciphering the first chapter which is told in the voice of a mentally challenged prehistoric boy The boy's language is composed of a narrow vocabulary of simple words but you'll be surprised how much it conveys That first chapter is a bravura writing performanceThis book has whetted my appetite for and may in fact be a primer for Moore's upcoming second novel about Northampton Jerusalem which is due to come out later this yearI'm docking it one star because brilliant as he is sometimes Moore's show offy prose style is too self conscious Sometimes he needs to get out of his own way

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Of the secrets of the landIn the tradition of Kipling's Puck of Pook's Hill Schwob's Imaginary Lives and Borges' A Universal History of Infamy Moore travels through history blending truth and conjecture in a novel that is dazzling moving sometimes tragic but always mesmerizingThis edition presents Voice of the Fire for the first time in hardcover format with full color illustrations by Jose Villarrub. If one were to postulate that a book that has an introduction by Neil Gaiman is a work of genius and a mind bending and expanding experience then this book would be one data point that confirms the hypothesisIt is hard to know how to classify this book It is as if Cormac McCarthy set about to write a work of existentialism The style can certainly make one think of Cormac the use of just the right word for whatever time period he is writing about any century the structure of sentences the way that even the scenery is made to have an aliveness the absolutely unmediated rawness of real life but's it's than that It's like with Cormac that Alan Moore is not just a master at the USE of language but it is as if he OWNS languageThe book consists of several short stories starting back around 6000 BC and ending in recent times At the start the reader is put in the position of thinking about what it would have been like to be living during the age of the spawning of consciousness the dawn of consciousness wherein one has only a primitive notion of what a self is where dream and awake states run together to make reality even confusing whereh shadows are spirits and where humanity has not yet evolved a good theory of mind to predict the behavior of other humans and so on It was enough to hook me And as we progress through the centuries Moore keeps it interestingIn the end he lets us know his thinking behind these stories I'll not give that away But I will say again without offering any spoilers that this book could make you wonder whether history is in some sense alive The technically correct way of talking about the unfolding of events is to say that history is contingent what happens is contingent on what came before But what if it's than that What if history is itself a living thing with its own consciousNow I'm rambling so I'll just end with great book