John C Wright has pulled off a great trick with his latest novel, Iron Chamber of Memory. What started out as a Nora Roberts style romantic comedy ended in an epic battle on the scale of Mary Stewart and her books of King Arthur and Merlin. Call it a fantasy romance. Quick! Where’s the soundtrack for Excalibur! I need O Fortuna to accompany the knights charging out of the mists!
Trust me, when I say it was epic, I mean EPIC.
You can kind of guess it from the cover.
Eye catching enough?
The description is as follows.
The small island of Sark in the English Channel is the last feudal government in Europe. By law, no motor vehicles run on the road, and no lights burn at night. Only the lord of the island may keep hounds.Into the strange, high house of Wrongerwood wanders Hal Landfall, penniless graduate student at Magdalen College, looking for his missing friend Manfred Hathaway, who has just inherited the lordship, the house, and the island. What he finds instead is the lovely, green-eyed Laurel, a beautiful girl from Cornwall who is Manfred’s wife-to-be.
There is said to be a haunted chamber in the house, erected by Merlin in ancient days, where a man who enters remembers his true and forgotten self. When Hal and Laurel step in, they remember, with fear and wonder, a terrible truth they must forget again when they step outside.
I wish I could go more into this story without given things away.
The first 25% of the book is a romantic farce (like Bringing Up Baby, but actually funny). The next 25% is an epic romance. The third quarter …. transitions nicely into the last 25%, in which the fecal matter hits the air impeller, and we’re in for one heck of a ride.
“I am the son of The Grail Knight. My father showed me the cup when I was a boy, still with heaven’s innocence in me, so that the shining rays were visible to me: and in the Blood of the Grail he anointed me.”
“We moved to New York, and he opened a used bookstore.”
“Are you suffering from cutlery dysfunction?”