The Ordinary Hardcover – Bargain Price, May 1, 2004
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Why Grimsley's books are out of print is a mystery to me. I had to get this one and the last green tree used. You cant even find Kirith Kirin used except at extremely high used book prices. A shame since Kirith Kirin is one of the better stories I have read and if I could find it in print, would make a fantastic gift to other readers.. At least some of these books are on Kindel
It does not approach the complexity and feeling that I received from reading his Kirith Kirin and like that book, I did not want The Ordinary to end. It did however--and much too quickly--as if the publisher was on his back to meet a deadline.
The story is complex and perhaps too filled with invented words, but I soon learned to read over and around them like a stream trickling over stones--and to enjoy the ride--slipping and sliding like an otter.
Grimsley never disappoints, but Kirtith Kirin is his opus to beat.
This novel is brilliant and quickly infectious. It feels very new and different from any other fantasy novel. The mix of scifi and fantasy is well done and seamless.
A must for sure.
However, the novel does rush to a sudden end, which wasn't good after so much build-up in the body. I hope Grimsley plans to write more.
A) Do I need to read KIRITH KIRIN first?
Yes. The author says you don't. Well, what else could he say when his earlier book had gone out of print? But now it's there for Kindle and other devices, too. I started reading The Ordinary (nothing to do with this day, rather like someone ordained) a day after finishing Kirith Kirin. The shock couldn't have been greater. The lands you had just been riding through on horseback you now travel by SUV. Or rather, in an antigravity truck, but you get the picture. Kirith Kirin is a high fantasy novel, in the tradition of LOTR. (There are hints in the appendices of KK that there is some space opera involved, too - I seldom read appended glossaries, so I missed them completely.) Now this land is attacked by a technological society with warships. Picture Gandalf vs. General Schwarzkopf. Brutal. The second half of the book concentrates on the magical realm again, a realm you understand much better if you have read KK first. So read it for that, and for the shock.
B) Is this a trilogy?
Yes. The next book is The Last Green Tree. Unfortunately it's out of print - hopefully my copy will arrive from an antiquarian bookseller tomorrow. A Kindle version seems to be in preparation (the good thing about electronic books, they probably won't go out of print ever, knock knock, unless the servers crash of course). The Ordinary stops in the middle of things. You get no idea of why the final decision of the protagonist, Jedda, was so important. What happened to Jessex and his new inverted tower. What was in Kirith Kirin's book. Etc. Things simply aren't finished. Obviously I have no idea yet if the Last Green Tree is the final book or if there will be more.
C) What on earth was the author thinking?
Anybody who read Grimsley's nongenre fiction knows he is a serious guy. Dealing with abuse, homophobia, death. The weird things in life. The absurdity of the individual in our society. So why first write a high fantasy novel with a little m/m romance and then attack it with warships? Is this all a joke?
Grimsley's magic is all about words. Forget all the sci-fi rationalizing in the book about how words may warp some super planes etc., it's part of the game. No: The author has created a magical world by words, his words. And now he wonders why. He is YY, the goddess that is a little too real. Grimslyy. I think he wrote the novel much earlier than it was published. (I think I read it on his webpage.) Later, already unsure of its purpose, added the appendices (my guess). And in fact, what is more absurd than reading a medieval fantasy novel on your smartphone? Why do we do these things? And KK is such a beautiful novel - why? So he decides, like Jessex, to take his fantasy land into the real universe. Very literally. Aeryn/Irion, the country of Kirith Kirin, it turns out, has the form of a square. Mountains to the west, north, east, sea to the south. With a flat horizon, it says so. Beyond, the world simply ends. The edges of the book page that shows the map of Aeryn are, in fact, the edges of the world. A paper world. Now it is linked to "our" universe of technology, science and religion, is part of a planet - a planet settled by Earth-sent starships in the far past (our far future). And the woods of Lothlorien are attracting the lumber industry, so to speak. But this is also not important. Important is that when Jedda, from our universe, travels the magical country, it somehow turns out to be more real, not less. The descriptions give way to endless detail, of a vine, a house, a dress, a smell. We never learn what a "mentext" message is in the real world, this strange word on the first page of the book. But we learn the colours of the eyes of any person Jedda meets in Irion. And in the end, Jedda unleashes ... (ok, enough spoilers).
Of course, Grimsley does not find an answer when he pokes and prods and probes the purpose of fantasy in this way. His new novel just covers his original fantasy up in more wor(l)ds that are equally fantastic. An onion world. Or rather a pearl, with the love story between Jessex and Kirith Kirin as the dirt in its center. And yes, Mr. Grimsley, the shrine for "Kirith Kirin" that is (in) this novel is a bit morbid.
Let's see what the next book brings...
PS: Maybe the title is to be taken more literal than I first thought. The ordinary world invading the magical. The magic of a childhood ruptured. Youthful ideals lost, for what? Mutual love evolving into mutual boredom. The magic of marriage ending over little, mean things. The dichotomy of it all. (Though, at least in a story, the magic might just fight back.) So I guess the book is related to Grimsley's general themes, after all.