December 31, 2010

The Others - Doris Egan

I still remember when I bought the second part of Doris Egan's Ivory Trilogy from a sale bin at the bookshop I'd been working at while I was still at Uni. While fantasy has never exactly been the kind of genre I prefer to read (apart from the occasional Terry Pratchett), the synopsis sounded intriguing enough for me. And I really liked the book. When I saw part one and three in the sale bin, I didn't hesitate and bought those as well. Obviously I got a better picture of the whole story-line (even though you could read the three books separately too) and a deeper insight into the characters, by reading the complete trilogy. Most of all though, the complete trilogy was immensely captivating. I moved from liking one part of the book to loving the whole trilogy in no time (or at least the time it took to read all three parts).

What can I say? I really and totally and completely loved it! I loved it so much that I decided to buy the English edition of the books, because the ones I had were in German. I wanted to read the Original too, because some texts tend to loose a lot of their charm in a translation. But most importantly, I had found one of those rare books that grabs your attention and you could read it again and again. And again. Not getting tired of it in the least, and not minding that you already know some passages by heart. Just about once a year or so I will pick the book from the shelf and reread the 896 most enthralling pages I've ever read. And I simply never grow tired of it.

Being a mixture of fantasy and science fiction, Doris Egan's book is mostly a great piece of story-telling. And this is exactly what's most important for me – the story itself. Of course the setting will compliment the whole story line, but the characters, their interaction and adventures, are what brings a book to life. And Doris did that so wonderfully that I officially declared this book my Favorite Book Of All Time and this hasn't changed over the years.

I always felt it's a bit of a shame that Doris Egan switched from writing books to writing for the screen (she's worked on Smallville, Dark Angel and House MD as of late). Then again, maybe I would have been utterly disappointed by any new novels. And this is something I really despise – when it's all downhill for authors after their first one or two bestsellers.

Curious about the title?
The gates of horn and ivory are a literary image used to distinguish true dreams (corresponding to factual occurrences) from false. The phrase originated in the Greek language, in which the word for "horn" is similar to that for "fulfill" and the word for "ivory" is similar to that for "deceive". On the basis of that play on words, true dreams are spoken of as coming through the gates of horn, false dreams as coming through those of ivory.

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