Sunday, August 31, 2008


Sorceress by Celia Rees

The sequel to Witch Child, this title reveals what happens to Mary Newbury, who has disappeared into the forest. Alison finds out from Agnes Hearne that Agnes is a descendent of Mary's and has a special skill which allows her to be in touch with Mary in the spirit world.

I received this book shortly before heading out on a trip to California and stuck it into my carry-on bag as travel reading.

Having read it now, I'm really not sure how I feel about it. I really enjoyed Rees' Witch Child and this book, though a sequel, was completely different from it. I like the fact that the book does stand alone - you can read, understand, enjoy it with out having read Witch Child. But I'm not so sure I like it as a sequel. It does follow up on the story of Mary, Witch Child's protagonist, but it does it in a very different way while introducing a bunch of modern-day characters. The story itself is mouch more complex, as is the meta-narrative that Rees introduces in Witch Child.

Anges, the real protagonist of Sorceress is interesting and does deserve a book of her own. Mary's story, however, didn't seem quite as real to me as it did in Witch Child.

Friday, August 01, 2008


Beowulf, translated and read by Seamus Heaney

Composed toward the end of the first millennium of our era, Beowulf is the elegiac narrative of the adventures of Beowulf, a Scandinavian hero who saves the Danes from the seemingly invincible monster Grendel and, later, from Grendel's mother. He then returns to his own country and lives to old age before dying in a vivid fight against a dragon.
The poem is about encountering the monstrous, defeating it, and then having to live on in the exhausted aftermath. In the contours of this story, at once remote and uncannily familiar at the end of the twentieth century, Seamus Heaney finds a resonance that summons power to the poetry from deep beneath its surface.

Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly) the library at work doesn't have many audio books. Since I've had a good deal of coding to do lately, I've been working through my personal stash of audio books (and those loaned from friends) as well as the library's selection of fiction on CD. On the Road is currently checked-out, but I've listened to Eragon (kind of a strange choice for an academic library) and now Beowulf.

Actually, I was quite excited when I realized that the library owned an audio version of Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf. I'd been wanting to read it ever since it first came out and I knew that listening to Heaney read it himself would be a much more authentic way to experience the poem.

While Beowulf probably isn't the best choice for listening while doing mindless work (I prefer something lighter), it is nonetheless a good "read". Heaney reads wonderfully and his translation makes the work accessible to the modern reader.