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Goodreads Review Of Joanne Harris' "runemarks"


Thalia
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Last week, as I was finishing up Joanne Harris' Runemarks, a medieval Norse fantasy novel, I happened to look through the other reviews of it on Goodreads. I ran across this one-star review which left me just about frothing at the mouth. I'll let the idiot speak for himself:

 

Review for Parents by Strict Christian Parent (contains spoilers)

 

I thought this book was subtly devious and subversive. I regretted allowing my 12-year-old son read it. And the ending wasn't very good.

 

I read this book because my son read it, and I wanted to see what it contained. You can get a summary on your own, so I'll just explain what I didn't like.

 

The fantasy novel has as antagonists a group of people that are modeled after the Christian religion that are amorally evil, and who derive their power from the same "magic" that the Norse Gods do. It even has a book that they follow called the "Good Book" and an evil man called "The Pastor". The "Order" follows an "Unnamed" supernatural being that ends up being a selfish power-hungry entity that wants to destroy the worlds so he can rule it.

 

This author of this book chooses to model religion, especially the Christian religion, as an organization that creates rules to give power to the leadership, rather than as a body that brings joy to it's followers. The organization outlaws dreaming and imagination and such, claiming it to be a source of evil in the world, and parallel to witchcraft.

 

Fiction is enjoyable because it is believable. If it's not "real," it's not very good fiction. This is a problem because exposure to false principles through fiction can impact and form one's perception of reality, especially for children. If a youth reads a thousand books, and all of them portray mothers as evil, destructive people, then the youth will be much more likely to accept that as truth, even if the books aren't true. This is the problems with many pieces of fiction today. They take a wonderful entity, the Christian Church, that has been the source of so much good in the world, and demonize it, claiming that it is okay because "it is only fiction". This book is a perfect example of that.

 

This book does the same thing with relative morality, teaching that what is good at one time is evil at another, and vice versa.

 

The ending was a poor one, as well. The chief antagonist spends five hundred years preparing to take over the world, and the culminating events of that preparation (the climax of the book) are very shallow and difficult to believe as "real". Not nearly like the battles in the Harry Potter or Leven Thumps where the battles are based on solid strategy and feel real.

 

All in all, not worth reading.

 

"Brings joy to its followers"? "Wonderful entity"? "Source of so much good in the world"? REALLY?!

 

And then there was this one:

 

This book seemed like a confrontation wherein Norse mythology meets Dante's Inferno, with a loveable 14 year old girl who faces the task of saving the "Nine Worlds" from inevitable, prophesied catastrophe. I thoroughly enjoyed the first third of the book, found the middle third a bit uncomfortable, and did NOT enjoy the last third at all.

 

It took me a couple of days to analyze what I specifically did not like. To me, the author gradually blurred the lines between mythological gods and traditional Christianity. Yes, I realize it was a fictional tale, but it seemed like it was teetering on the brink leading almost toward blasphemy. Not quite there, but close enough to leave a bad taste in my mouth.

 

I don't plan to try any of this author's other writing.

 

Some of "this author's other writing," BTW, includes Chocolat. The one they made into that movie with Johnny Depp. Yeah.

 

But . . . blasphemy? Really?

 

This reminds me of when I was still brainwashed and interested in reading the Quran and other religious works just to see what they had to say and I was told not to because they might "shake my faith" and "confuse me." These people have the same mindset--don't read anything that contradicts the almighty bible because it's eeeeeeeeeeeevil and will confuse you and maybe make you think. Oh, noes!

 

Okay, I'm done. :P

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Since I've got two new book on my reading list this summer what's one more.

 

 

How does this book compare to Pullman?

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I liked Runemarks much better than His Dark Materials. I felt that Harris was telling a story, a myth, rather than grinding an axe. It was like a thinly-veiled metaphor for Christianity's near-destruction of the Norse religion and belief systems, except in this case the Norse pantheon survives and the Judeo-Christian god metaphor loses.

 

I will warn you, though, it's very long. My ebook version for my Nook came in at 439 pages, and apparently the hardback's around 550. And it's supposed to be YA. I don't see it necessarily as YA, though--it's far too involved with Norse mythology and has a very complicated plot. You really have to know the myths to pick up all the references she makes (like when one of the characters says he wouldn't do something "for all of Otter's Ransom"). I think the only reason it's classified as YA is that the main character is a 14-year-old girl.

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I liked Runemarks much better than His Dark Materials. I felt that Harris was telling a story, a myth, rather than grinding an axe. It was like a thinly-veiled metaphor for Christianity's near-destruction of the Norse religion and belief systems, except in this case the Norse pantheon survives and the Judeo-Christian god metaphor loses.

 

I will warn you, though, it's very long. My ebook version for my Nook came in at 439 pages, and apparently the hardback's around 550. And it's supposed to be YA. I don't see it necessarily as YA, though--it's far too involved with Norse mythology and has a very complicated plot. You really have to know the myths to pick up all the references she makes (like when one of the characters says he wouldn't do something "for all of Otter's Ransom"). I think the only reason it's classified as YA is that the main character is a 14-year-old girl.

 

only 550 pages...pffft.

 

I've read Song of Ice and Fire straight through recently. :)

 

Thanks for the info, i'll have to look it up.

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This book does the same thing with relative morality, teaching that what is good at one time is evil at another, and vice versa.

If I hear another Christian mention relative morality I think I'll puke. As if they know anything about morality, their ideas of right and wrong are so twisted it's not even funny. I hate how they brainwashed me and made me in to a hateful, shitty person because I was told I was right and everyone else was wrong.

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I'm planning to re-read that so I can read A Dance with Dragons and have some idea of what's going on. But I'm re-reading the Dresden files first. Somehow, though, this felt longer. I can't really explain why.

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My ebook version for my Nook came in at 439 pages, and apparently the hardback's around 550.

 

Good warmup for The Baroque Cycle, then. ^_^

 

Seriously, though, I think I should check this one out.

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I'm planning to re-read that so I can read A Dance with Dragons and have some idea of what's going on. But I'm re-reading the Dresden files first. Somehow, though, this felt longer. I can't really explain why.

 

I notice that happens in books when something isn't quite clicking. Usually the author is using way to much exposition. The first half o the Lord of the Rings is like that for me. Its basically 200 pages of landscape descriptions and hobbits lost in the wider world.

 

Good to know though.

 

I tried to get into the Godless World Trilogy and Butcher's Codex Aleria. Both just turned me off. I just couldn't get into them. It was for similar reasons. Godless had way to much politics that required alot of exposition. The Codex was too formulaic and predictable. Dresden gets that way at times too...but I connect to the characters better so I suffer through the repetitive parts.

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