Friday, January 19, 2007

Crown of Stars (concluded)

I finished Crown Of Stars last night after plowing through the last 220 pages in two evenings. Once again I felt the pain of parting as the story came to an end, but in some ways it was not as powerful as in some of the other stories I've read, but certainly not because I care less about the characters. Perhaps it is because the action of the novel closes and then the novel concludes 10 pages and 40 years later. We get a sense that all was for a purpose, that the struggles and battles waged were not for naught. There was purpose and there was meaning because we can look back on it as events in the past rather than a present that is forever closed to us. That is one of the most painful aspects to the close of a story, when the characters lives go on, but we no longer get to be a part of them.

When The Lord of the Rings ends, we are left with a new world but no knowledge of where it is going or where it will end, the story concludes and Frodo sails out from the Grey Havens. When The Chronicles of Narnia end, we see the Pevensie children going further up and further in and we see that their lives have culminated in something grand and beautiful--eternity with Aslan, the one who sang the world into existence. While Crown of Stars doesn't conclude with the grand scope of eternity as seen by the daimones of the upper spheres, it doesn't just drop us either. Elliott gives, and this is probably a poor analogy that hopefully wouldn't offend her, the prose version of a movie that runs the "What happened next" for each of the characters before the credits roll. She gives us a glimpse of life continuing in a wonderful world as we see that the characters we know and love accomplished something great and lasting, but the story continues, life continues in this world.

The beauty of the story is that there is more to it than what she tells. Who is Alain? Perhaps she doesn’t even know, and that is a beautiful thing, because that is where the true heart of myth lies. When a story can spring from beyond us and end with mystery remaining, it is evidence that we have tapped into something that we ourselves are not in control of even though we are the ones who write the stories. I e-mailed Ms. Elliott to ask her about that. We'll see what she has to say.

Another question I asked her is how much of the story she knew before she started. How much just developed and how much was clear from the beginning? Clearly the story grew in the telling because she had planned on a 6 volume series, only to have it turn into 7, which was much more fitting given the nature of the story.

This was perhaps the best fantasy series I've read, and I've read quite a few. Crown of Stars was a fitting end, I might also say inevitable considering everything that happens to the main characters, to a series that I will read again and again simply to be immersed once more in Elliott's living and breathable world.

The verdict: 10/10

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