Thursday, November 20, 2008

Loreena McKennitt, City of Ashes

I've just finished City of Ashes , the second volume in the Mortal Instruments trilogy written by Cassandra Clare. Boy was that bad. I liked the first book enough to continue despite obvious flaws but the second one was completely ludicrous : characters who die but are suddenly alive again, 2 battles per chapter if not more (is there anything else besides monsters and demons in this book? All they do is fight, constantly). Character development is once again lacking, towards the end of the book a major character is believed to be dead (quite a graphic death too, lots of horror in the book in general) and the reaction of a close friend of this character is developed in... one sentence. Then said friend moves on to something else altogether. What's the point of introducing these characters in the first place if they act like robots most of the time ? The end (another cheap cliché plot twist) made me laugh and I don't think it was supposed to. What a headache, it's a wonder I kept reading.
Anyway, looking forward to my next fantasy book, American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I'm also right in the middle of King Lear, which I'm enjoying very much indeed. It takes me quite a while to read a play by Shakespeare : I read the play once without knowing anything of the plot, then I look for and print a summary of each act that I put next to me for a second reading to make sure I understood everything and to concentrate more on the words than on the plot. Then I read the supplemental material that comes with the excellent Arden edition of the play, and then I read at least one book of literary criticism about the play. I've only just finished my first reading and I'll be printing a summary tomorrow first thing.

I treated myself to a little end-of-the-year present as I bought five Loreena McKennitt CDs that were missing from my collection. The prices dropped on her official website and I thought it was a good opportunity to finally buy them as I've been staring at the covers for so long. Up till now I only had Elemental and The Book of Secrets, which are both excellent. I bought The Mask and Mirror, To Drive the Cold Winter Away, An Ancient Muse, A Midwinter Night's Dream (I bought the special edition that comes with a DVD that takes a look at her Ancient Muse Tour) and her live CD Nights from the Alhambra that also comes with a DVD of the concert. I hope I'll receive all of this shortly. In the meantime, I can listen to the MP3 files of all these albums as they came with my order, so the wait isn't completely unbearable. I adore Loreena's music. I like to call it world music as she draws inspiration from so many continents and cultures, each CD is such a rich world. Her music touches me, makes me want to dance, feels like a real voyage. First track in Morrocco, next track India, you dance, Shakespeare's words, Celtic themes, then she goes to Ireland, murmurs of voices, choral, old folk songs sung with her beautiful soprano voice. Each work is a wonderful experience and I'm so happy I only have 3 more CDs left to make my collection complete. I have enough to keep me warm but I can still look forward to great discoveries, just what I love.