Carrie Vaughn – Discord’s Apple
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
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).
First Line: Finally, after driving all night, Evie arrived.
© 2011 Fyrefly’s Book Blog. All Rights Reserved. If you’re reading this on a site other than Fyrefly’s Book Blog or its RSS feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is being used without permission.