Thursday 4 April 2019

The A-Z Blog Challenge, Letter D

Letter D of My Favourite Books by title
Two authors, two genres - sort of. first one is Domain, by James Herbert. Here's the blurb:

Part of the Rats trilogy, international bestseller James Herbert's Domain pits man against mutant rats, who are back with a vengeance.

The long-dreaded nuclear conflict. The city torn apart, shattered, its people destroyed or mutilated beyond hope. For just a few, survival is possible only beneath the wrecked streets - if there is time to avoid the slow-descending poisonous ashes. But below, the rats, demonic offspring of their irradiated forebears, are waiting. They know that Man is weakened, become frail. Has become their prey . . .
As the blurb indicates this is the final book in the trilogy and, although I loved all of them, this one is the best of them. It culminates the story in an epic way, with an apocalypse and then with the rats - giant, mutant rats mind - realising they have the upper hand. Can rats become this conscious and intelligent? - in James Herbert's version they can be.

He leaves nothing to the imagination, and offers horror in all it's forms (psychological and physical) like most of his early books. Later he moved into more paranormal horror, but his early books were dark, scary and full of gore. It was this book - along with The Dark, (also a D Title) which really cemented my love of his writing - but of his earlier books this one stands out. You don't need to read the other two in the trilogy to enjoy this one.

Here's a little tidbit of info on James Herbert: He designed all his own covers. He was an Art Director before he became a full-time writer.

*** second one is The Drawing of the Three, by Stephen King. Here's the blurb:

The second volume in Stephen King’s acclaimed, epic Dark Tower series.  

After his confrontation with the man in black at the end of The Gunslinger, Roland awakes to find three doors on the beach of Mid-World's Western Sea—each leading to New York City but at three different moments in time. Through these doors, Roland must "draw" three figures crucial to his quest for the Dark Tower. In 1987, he finds Eddie Dean, The Prisoner, a heroin addict. In 1964, he meets Odetta Holmes, the Lady of Shadows, a young African-American heiress who lost her lower legs in a subway accident and gained a second personality that rages within her. And in 1977, he encounters Jack mort, Death, a pusher responsible for cruelties beyond imagining. Has Roland found new companions to form the "Ka-tet" of his quest? Or has he unleashed something else entirely?

The stunning Plume edition features full-color illustrations by Phil Hale and is a collector’s item for years to come.

You didn't think we'd get through the letter D without me mentioning The Dark Tower series, did you? 😉 As a die hard 'Constant Reader' (SK's term for his devoted fans), this has to be his ultimate opus. Although he is considered a Horror writer, this is actually Dark Fantasy and he writes it extremely well. 

As the blurb says, this is the second of a series of eight books. I've used the hardcover edition picture and blurb as this is one of the few books - or series - that I own in hardcover. I have the first four in trade paperback as well, but when he released the last three, some ten plus years after the fourth (Wizard & Glass), he re-wrote the first one, The Gunslinger, so I had to buy it again, and so I chose to get the entire series in hardcover. The eighth book - The Wind Through the Keyhole - was released five years after the seventh (and final) book, and is actually book four and a half in the series, slotting in between the fourth and fifth. 

I have been doing a re-read of this series which is a wholly immersive experience, where you get lost in the world of Roland Deschain, where the world 'has moved on' and where time has become strange and warped. You get to know his companions - Jake, Eddie, Susannah and Oy (a four footed member) and feel like they are your friends too. 

And this particular book is when he brings Eddie and Susannah (or Detta Walker as she is at the beginning) through into his world. He pulls them through doors - depicted on the cover - which are hanging in the air on a beach. When he opens them he sees through their eyes to their lives and their 'when'.

Stephen King has a particular knack for surreal fantasy which I adore. It makes me think about things in my own world differently and see things from another perspective. One of my favourite lines is from the first Dark Tower novel, The Gunslinger, when the man in black sits down with Roland in a palaver and says:

"Size defeats us. For the fish, the lake in which he lives is the universe. What does the fish think when he is jerked up by the mouth through the silver limits of existence and into a new universe where the air drowns him and the light is blue madness? Where huge bipeds with no gills stuff it into a suffocating box and cover it with wet weeds to die?

Or one might take the tip of the pencil and magnify it. One reaches the point where a stunning realization strikes home: The pencil tip is not solid; it is composed of atoms which whirl and revolve like a trillion demon planets. What seems solid to us is actually only a loose net held together by gravity. Viewed at their actual size, the distances between these atoms might become league, gulfs, aeons. The atoms themselves are composed of nuclei and revolving protons and electrons. One may step down further to subatomic particles. And then to what? Tachyons? Nothing? Of course not. Everything in the universe denies nothing; to suggest an ending is the one absurdity.

If you fell outward to the limit of the universe, would you find a board fence and signs reading DEAD END? No. You might find something hard and rounded, as the chick must see the egg from the inside. And if you should peck through the shell (or find a door), what great and torrential light might shine through your opening at the end of space? Might you look through and discover our entire universe is but part of one atom on a blade of grass? Might you be forced to think that by burning a twig you incinerate an eternity of eternities? That existence rises not to one infinite but to an infinity of them?"

The relativity of size - are we just a drop of water on a blade of grass is in someone else's universe? Blew my mind when I first read it. Love it. 

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