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Realistic sensawunda… a paradox? October 24, 2006

Posted by sensawunda in Books.

The Last Light of the Sun, by Guy Gavriel Kay, occasionally annoyed me with its relentless focus on duty, drudgery and death in his alternate world that parallels Europe and the British Isles around 1000 A.D. At times it felt like the only thing that made it fantasy was the two moons and the fact that all the races and nations have alternate names.

And then, a character would be surprised by wonder.

If you’re going to be naturalistic, and employ rigorous research in the construction of a world, then this is the way to handle sensawunda. I might prefer a book that contains more sensawunda than not… but Kay understands that in human experience, brief moments of wonder only punctuate an otherwise mundane life. We may occasionally stray into Faerie unawares, but then we stumble back out into this everyday world. Our attempts to seek wonder out for ourselves end as often as not at a tourist trap.

Kay’s moments of wonder are a true reward for trudging with his characters through the mud and blood. When he goes there, he knows what he’s doing. He’s laid the groundwork while you were slogging along with your head down, and suddenly he dazzles you and makes all that mundanity fade away.

(the novel as a whole)woodwand.jpgwoodwand.jpg

(the scenes of wonder)woodwand.jpgwoodwand.jpgwoodwand.jpgwoodwand.jpgwoodwand.jpg



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