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“There should be more books. I want to get lost in rows of shelves, filled with books in which I can lose myself. Books are like the pools in C.S. Lewis’ wood between the worlds. Each one is a portal to a new realm limited only by the imagination of the reader. The best part? You don’t need a magic ring to enter one, and any of the characters you find inside stay behind when you close the cover. I love to lose myself in a book. Too often of late that has been difficult. I find that I am surround by distractions that prevent me from straying too far from the printed path. They serve as signposts that I want to avoid. It’s a far better adventure when you don’t know the way. I love the feeling of picking up a book I’ve never heard of but knowing that it is about to pull me in. When I touch the cover of such a book, I feel an inexplicable joy, an almost electric rush, and an urge to drop everything and devour its contents before I can move on. This is a rare joy, but the scarcity of such books makes the finding of one all the more fantastic.

Doubtless, there are those who would call me mad, but never to my face. They would whisper, as so many have done, behind my back, though I would hear nonetheless. It is the nature of a whispered phrase to meander about until it weaves and winds and finds itself within the ears of the one about whom it was first spoken. It is the nature of secrets to be discovered, for riddles to be solved, for the sun to set at day’s end. It is the nature of the world for these things to happen. It was in my nature since birth to crave knowledge, and in my nature to seek it. It was in the nature of my father and mother to guide me to the books in which I could find such information, such wonder. It is in the nature of knowledge that lingers the traces of original sin. So it is that those who would seek knowledge lose their innocence. This is the nature of man. One could say that a library, for all the knowledge it contains, is more sinful than all of the bordellos in all of the world. Conversely, such a library could be considered to be more sacred to those seekers of knowledge than Mecca or Jerusalem or any similar site to her faithful devotees. In the poorest of libraries can one find more wisdom than in the minds of the richest woman or man now living.”

That’s a little something I wrote a few months ago, but finally got typed up. I’m thinking about how it ties in to the character of Rime and his understanding of his own religious beliefs. He begins the novel as a man who is beginning to,  for the first time in his life, consciously question the existence of his god. His brotherhood works in Dhe’skuva, the city on the desert’s edge, selling crops from their garden and spreading the word of the patron deity of the city of Dhe’laza. The people of Dhe’skuva are highly resistant to the visiting prophets, though they have allowed them to live within the city for almost ten years. Rime stays near the temple entrance most of the days, caring for the garden during the day when his brothers are out proselytizing (I love that word). He speaks of his god to any who come near, but the streets near the temple are empty throughout most of the day. It’s almost agonizing to Rime, knowing that his own effectiveness is limited by his location and his physical inability to keep up with the other members of his order. When he’s alone, with nothing but the echo of his own words for company, a little nagging voice keeps popping into his head. “What if you’re wrong? What if he’s not real?” the voice says.

Over the course of the novel, Rime will have to decide how much he’s going to listen to/trust the voice in his head versus what he’s seeing right in front of him. His interactions with Arsus are going to change his life. Landara, Zach, and the others who have yet to tell me their names are going to be a part of a great adventure. The journey to Dhe’laza is going to challenge them all in ways they never thought possible. Long-held beliefs about the characters are going to change. Zachariah (Zee) will be narrating, and at the same time providing some stories for the other members of the cast. As a wandering poet, he will have been accumulating knowledge over the many years of his life. However, he’s got his own personal demons haunting him, maybe more literally than he ever expected. Landara is fleeing her own heavy gambling debt and her past as a city guard, an enforcer of the brutal law that provides Dhe’skuva with its legendary security.

Then there’s Arsus. Arsus has a unique claim that no one can prove or refute. The first character he meets is Rime, and his first statement is that the voice in Rime’s head is full of shit. The voice of doubt should be ignored. Rime’s god is indeed real, Arsus says. Not only that, but he’s standing right in front of him, stripped of all of his powers and trapped in mortal form. Rime’s reaction is exactly what you’d expect from a man who spent his entire life dedicated to the praise and worship of a god who supposedly protects an entire city-state and is among the strongest in the pantheon. Rime hears this stranger’s words and immediately falls to the ground in front of this strange man who claims that he is his god incarnate, closes his eyes, and bursts into a fit of uncontrollable laughter.

2 Comments

  1. Ah, books. Those that are truly magical will leave their imprint on your soul forever, and they are very much akin indeed to religious experience, if they move you in a similar way. The skeptics who are unmoved are very much like those who go to church out of habit and basically zone out. They may read out of curiosity, or because they feel they “have to”, but fear, anger, and doubt keep them from truly experiencing knowledge. It will be interesting to see Rime’s journey of faith, and it’s something that every true believer has to go through. That moment when they question what everyone has taught them and ultimately have to make up their own mind will determine the strength of their faith.

  2. I think you had let me read this once before; as I believe I said then, very nicely done.

    It’s interesting to see how much these characters have already developed. Also, epic closing sentence. Made me smile.


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