Review: The Drawing of the Dark by Tim Powers

15 08 2008

Okay, first of all I’m sorry for the serious downtime this week. I’m job hunting, and Lindsay is off assistant-teaching at a trapeze camp in Pennsylvania. It’s really cool and we’re both kind of stressed out in weird ways. However, we enjoy your continued reading. We also enjoy your commenting! Let us know you’re here.

The Drawing of the Dark by Tim Powers

The Drawing of the Dark by Tim Powers

Secondly, I read The Drawing of the Dark by Tim Powers. Way back in high school, I read Expiration Date, another Powers book about a kid and Thomas Edison’s ghost. It was really awesome — maybe some day I’ll get around to re-reading it and reviewing it up here. A few weeks ago, I was trying to read Earthquake Weather, the sequel. Same kid, but this time, he’s potentially the Fisher King.

While I was reading it, everyone kept saying, “Yeah, that one’s good. But you gotta read The Drawing of the Dark!” I haven’t finished Earthquake Weather, but Drawing ended up back in the house. So I read it today.

I’m kind of annoyed at Powers for recycling the same story, but he’s really good at telling it so I can forgive him. The Drawing of the Dark takes place in the sixteenth century (1500’s). The Turks are invading Europe, but the real driving force is that the evil Eastern forces see that the Fisher King is really weak and are moving to take over. It’s all up to Brian Duffy, an Irish mercenary to save the day — ironically by making sure a three-thousand year old brewery doesn’t get destroyed.

The Drawing of the Dark is really worth reading. Not only does Powers tell the story really well, with clarity and humor, but he also manages to blend gripping action with exposition in well measured doses. I am a fan of good action scenes, and this book has plenty of them. Of course, it can’t all be action scenes, because then you the reader get tired, and the characters realistically can’t fight that long.

One cool thing about the book is that it reminds me of a young adult novel I read in elementary school — The Emperor’s Winding Sheet — the only book to ever make me cry, ever. It’s about an English boy who becomes the Emperor of Constantinople’s servant while the city is being taken over by the Turks. Powers’ book is an extension of that history. I don’t actually know if the Turks attacked Vienna, but they very well could have and it certainly would fit into my made up version of Europe’s history (largely informed by the true and factual Girl Genius, of course).

The major problem I see with The Drawing of the Dark is that it’s short enough that you can practically read it in one sitting (but I suppose I should be happy that it’s short, because yanno I haven’t finished Earthquake Weather yet). If When you read it, be sure to savor it.

So yeah. Go out and buy or borrow The Drawing of the Dark. Well worth the read. You’ll want to prance around like a swashbuckling mercenary afterward, which is awesome.

Oh, one other problem with the book — there’s so much beer that it makes you want to go drink one. Be sure to have a bottle (or three) handy. Make sure it’s good, because the beer in the book is supposedly some of the best and most magical stuff in all Europe.

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