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Carrie Vaughn – Discord’s Apple

October 10, 2011

123. Discord’s Apple by Carrie Vaughn (2010)

Read By: Angela Dawe & Luke Daniels
Length: 9h 17m (304 pages)

Genre: Fantasy, set in what I would consider a sci-fi near-future world.

Started: 21 September 2011
Finished: 23 September 2011

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? I first spotted it in Shelf Awareness, and mythology-based fantasy? I’m game.

What a great excuse
for basement clutter: “It’s a
‘magical’ storeroom!”

Summary: Evie Walker is a comic book author, and her current series, about a group of military commandos, is a bestseller in a world that’s increasingly dominated by government checkpoints and curfews, gasoline rationing, and multinational terrorist threats. She’s not exactly looking forward to going home to care for her ailing father, but she finds that the old farmhouse contains more than she remembered from childhood. In its basement – territory that was forbidden to her when she was growing up – is a storeroom of magical objects of all descriptions, and Evie is shocked to learn that she’s the latest in a familial line of keepers of the storeroom that stretches back centuries. She’s not ready for the responsibility, particularly when the goddess Hera comes to call, looking for a golden apple: an apple inscribed with “for the fairest,” the apple that started the Trojan War. Hera has plans to remake the world, and she will stop at nothing to get the apple. But Evie won’t have to face her alone; among other allies is a Greek soldier that sailed with Odysseus, and was made immortal by Apollo.

Review: This book has a fantastic premise. Fantastic. I knew from the title that it was going to involve Greek mythology, which is what got me on board in the first place; I love fantasy that uses mythology as its base. But what I wasn’t expecting was this wonderful premise of a storeroom that contains all of the magical artifacts from all of the stories, that have been gathered together as magic has fallen out of the world. Not just the apple, but the golden fleece, and a pair of winged sandals, and flying carpets, and glass slippers; just a huge wonderful mishmash that spans centuries and cultures.

I think it’s that conglomeration of myths and legends and stories, each familiar to us today, and each with their own power, even after all these years, that was what really spoke to me. True to its title, the story is pretty heavily Greek-focused, and I was perfectly content with that. But then Merlin shows up all cranky demanding that the Walkers get Excaliber out of the storeroom, and I was in love. (Vaughn also managed to ping my inner Shakespeare nerd; Puck’s a major player in the story too.) There’s a definite Gaiman-esque air to things… American Gods is the obvious comparison, but the way that the flotsam of various stories winds up in storeroom put me in mind of the Dreaming from Sandman as well.

The story’s fast paced, for sure; Vaughn manages to pack a lot into the nine and a half hours of audiobook. But there are also a lot of deeper issues lurking under the surface. Questions about the power of stories; about the presence of magic in the world, and whether its presence or absence is better for humanity; about war and power and control and desire, and how they’ve changed – or not – over time. She also raises a very interesting point, and one that I don’t think I’ve ever encountered before, at least not in this depth, despite the amount of Arthuriana I read: The legend of King Arthur says that the great king only sleeps, and he will wake and return in the hour of his country’s need. But if he hasn’t come back yet, how bad do things have to get before he will? Heady stuff, and great fodder for a fantasy novel.

My only real complaint about this book is that there wasn’t more of it. The fast-paced story actually works against it in some places; there are a lot of subplots and themes that could have used more development and complexity than Vaughn gave them. The ending, likewise, is satisfying enough, but could easily have been expanded upon. And in general, the storeroom seems like such rich ground to grow stories, I would have been thrilled with a little more time to explore, instead of getting right down to the business of the main plot. But what there was completely captured my imagination, and made for a fun, fascinating read. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Highly recommended for those who like their stories infused with a heavy dose of mythology and magic (and who also have a decent grounding in the Trojan War and the Greek Pantheon).

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Fantasy Book Critic, The Good The Bad and the Unread, My Favourite Books, Steph Su Reads
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: Finally, after driving all night, Evie arrived.

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. October 10, 2011 7:41 am

    I’m so glad you reviewed this book. I meant to read it when I first read about it a while ago, but it had slipped my mind. I love the whole storeroom premise. Off to find out if my library has a copy. :-)

  2. October 10, 2011 12:19 pm

    Like I told you on Twitter, you SO sold me on this one. It sounds right up my alley.

    • October 14, 2011 9:57 am

      Nymeth – Hooray! I really do think you’ll get a kick out of the premise, if nothing else.

  3. October 10, 2011 5:32 pm

    I’m going to have to get this. It sounds very good. I hadn’t read any Carrie Vaughan until her short story in the Warriors collection, which I thought was one of the best stories in the whole anthology. This sounds like a standalone, or at least the beginning of a series and she’s obviously a very talented writer, so this is going on the tbar (to buy and read) list.

    • October 14, 2011 9:59 am

      Elfy – The only Carrie Vaughn I’d read before this was her short story in Songs of Love & Death, which I wasn’t crazy about, and a podcast of one of her short stories that I did really like. I do like her writing, but am not crazy about urban fantasy, so I don’t know if I’ll pick up on her main series… but her website does list this among a few other standalones, so there’s definitely some more to explore!

  4. October 10, 2011 6:58 pm

    Yay! I need this in my life! I have a totally relatively solid background in the Trojan War and I looooove mythology. And that is a really good point about King Arthur.

    • October 14, 2011 10:02 am

      Jenny – Okay, yes, anyone like you (and me!) that loooooves mythology should be all over this.

      And the bit about Arthur kind of blew my mind. I don’t know if it’s because the Arthuriana I’ve read has all been historical rather than modern, but I’d never seen it addressed before, and now all I can think about is people huddled in their blacked-out houses during the Blitz thinking “What the hell, Arthur?”

  5. October 11, 2011 12:45 pm

    I love the addition of myth in a story. Thanks for the recommendation!

    (Had to laugh when I saw Jenny’s comment–she really is into the Greeks.)

    • October 14, 2011 10:03 am

      jenclair – I do like mythology mixed with my fiction, and gods interfering with mortals is always welcome in a story. Got any good recommendations for ones that I might have missed?

  6. October 11, 2011 7:34 pm

    I have an e-copy of this, so I am glad to hear you enjoyed it!

    • October 14, 2011 10:03 am

      Kailana – Definitely! I hope that you enjoy it just as much!

  7. October 11, 2011 9:25 pm

    i have almost bought this book about 20 times.
    one of these days it will make it all the way to my home :)


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