The Twelfth Enchantment

The Twelfth EnchantmentThe Regency England that I know—the one familiar from film, public television, the novels of Jane Austen, and very little actual historical knowledge (a lack that is entirely mine and not the authors’)—is a setting particularly suited to the addition of magic. The rituals and manners of the place are both fascinating and so foreign to contemporary life that they almost seem like magic themselves. Exaggerate a little, squint one eye, and magic slips right in, looking like it’s been there all along.

 

In The Twelfth Enchantment, David Liss makes excellent use of this affinity. His Regency England is on the brink of a secret war whose conflict fills the spaces between parlor conversations and grand dances, transforming social niceties into the clever moves of an ominous and thrilling game. The forces of newly mechanized industry have begun to encroach on ancient tradition, and the very ordinary, very prospect-less Lucy Derrick is caught between the two of them.

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Our Fantastic Week Ahead: August 15

Thanks again to everyone who contributed to last week's celebration of Lev Grossman's The Magician King!  We were really excited to be able to feature a novel this way, and we hope that you all have had a chance to pick up a copy of Grossman's novel for yourselves.  And if you haven't already, take a look at what Grossman himself had to say about how he wrote the novel--it's a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at his writing process, and it also provides a list of fantastic texts that went into the novel that will themselves keep you entertained for weeks.

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Fantastically Fun Fridays: August 12, 2011

Happy Friday everyone!  We hope that you have enjoyed our magician-themed week in honor of Lev Grossman's latest book, but even more importantly, we hope that you have had a chance to enjoy The Magician King yourself!  It rocks.

NPR has announced its list of the top 100 science fiction and fantasy books (as chosen by their readers/listeners).  The top 3? Lord of the Rings, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and Ender's Game.  Check out the rest of the list--it should keep you busy for a while!

Speaking of The Lord of the Rings, if you're in the Chicago area, you can watch a screening of The Fellowship of the Ring with live music, performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, next Thursday and Friday night at Ravinia.  Travelzoo has a good deal on tickets--$15 lawn seats on Thursday, $20 pavilion tickets on Thursday and Friday.

Here are some of the other fun things we found around the internet this week:

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The Witch-Queen of Fillory

The Magician KingLet's begin by taking note of the parameters - the circumstances, if you will - under which we are working. The first is that I can make absolutely no claim to objectivity here. Not only did I beta-read The Magician King, but Lev is a very dear friend. I have no critical distance from either text or from author.

The second circumstance of note is, there are going to be spoilers for The Magician King in this post. I am quite serious about this.

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The Fantastic in the Fine Arts: Piano Music from The Lord of the Rings

Lord of the Rings piano musicFor anyone who has seen any of The Lord of the Rings movies, the soundtrack to the movies becomes as familiar as the faces of Frodo, Gandalf, and Aragorn.  As someone who loves these movies and who also plays the piano, I was very excited, then, when I came across arrangments of the music from Lord of the Rings for solo piano, published by Alfred Music.

Separate books for each of the movies are available, but I purchased the volume containing songs from all  three of the movies.  The selection is quite good and very representative of the trilogy as a whole; the volume contains the most recognizable theme music for the various characters (such as "Concerning Hobbits"), as well as many of the vocal pieces originally performed by artists such as Enya, Emiliana Torrini, and Annie Lennox.  What is perhaps most impressive about the collection is the way it maintains the sound of the original orchestral arrangement while still being easily playable by an intermediate-level pianist.

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