About Me

My photo
I am a writer, editor, reviewer and dance teacher based in Perth, Western Australia.

My books

The first two novels of my trilogy, The Talismans, are not available as e-books at present, but I expect to get them back online shortly. However, I do have paperbacks of The Dagger of Dresnia at the low price of $25 including postage within Australia. I also have a short story, 'La Belle Dame', in print - see Mythic Resonance below. The best way to contact me is via Facebook!

Buy The Talismans

The first two books of The Talismans trilogy were published by Satalyte Publications, which, sadly, has gone out of business. I hope to see my books back on Amazon under a new publisher in the near future.

The Dagger of Dresnia

The Cloak of Challiver

Mythic Resonance

Buy Mythic Resonance

Mythic Resonance is an excellent anthology that includes my short story 'La Belle Dame', together with great stories from Alan Baxter, Donna Maree Hanson, Sue Burstynski, Nike Sulway and nine more fantastic authors! Just $US3.99 from Amazon. Got a Kindle? Check out Mythic Resonance.

Follow me on Twitter

Share a link on Twitter

Follow by Email

My Blog List

Blog Archive

Places I've lived: Manchester, UK

Places I've lived: Manchester, UK

Places I've lived: Gippsland, Australia

Places I've lived: Gippsland, Australia

Places I've lived: Geelong, Australia

Places I've lived: Geelong,  Australia

Places I've lived: Tamworth, NSW

Places I've lived: Tamworth, NSW

Places I've Lived - Sydney

Places I've Lived - Sydney
Sydney Conservatorium - my old school

Places I've lived: Auckland, NZ

Places I've lived: Auckland, NZ

Places I've Lived: Mount Gambier

Places I've Lived: Mount Gambier
Blue Lake

Places I've lived: Adelaide, SA

Places I've lived: Adelaide, SA

Places I've Lived: Perth by Day

Places I've Lived: Perth by Day
From Kings Park

Places I've lived: High View, WV

Places I've lived: High View, WV

Places I've lived: Lynton, Devon, UK

Places I've lived: Lynton, Devon, UK

Places I've lived: Braemar, Scotland

Places I've lived: Braemar, Scotland

Places I've lived: Barre, MA, USA

Places I've lived: Barre, MA, USA

Places I've Lived: Perth by Night

Places I've Lived: Perth by Night
From Kings Park

Inner Peace Blog

Inner Peace Blog
Awarded by Joanna Fay. Click on the image to visit her lovely website!

Versatile Blogger Award

Versatile Blogger Award
Awarded by Kim Falconer. Click on the pic to check out her Quantum Astrology blog!

Fabulous Blog Award

Fabulous Blog Award
Awarded by Kathryn Warner. Click on the pic to check out her Edward II blog!

Search This Blog

Sunday, 2 September 2007

My Top Three

I intended to make a list of my top ten books for this blog, but when I started I realised that perhaps I should do my top ten authors, since in the Top Ten the same authors often appear more than once. Then I realised that my top ten authors would take up at least three posts so I cut it down to the Top Three. Anyway, my top ten books fluctuate month by month, and while in many cases the authors on them change only over decades, my Top Three, Shakespeare, Tolkien and Chaucer, never change.

That doesn't mean I read these guys regularly: in fact, in the case of Chaucer I'm too lazy to read the original language. And when it comes to Tolkien I liked the LOTR movies as much as the books. (Do I hear mutters of 'philistine' from among the ranks?)

Shakespeare, however, is different. I do read his works, preferably in a group and out loud. It's sad that many school children today find his language as difficult as I find Chaucer – but then, they find Tolkien as difficult as I found Dickens when I was young. Language changes and with modern technology it is changing faster and faster. The language-based arts, therefore, have become more ephemeral than ever.

Nevertheless, like many English speakers, I still admire William Shakespeare most of all. In my book, he was the best fantasy writer of all time - and he did it all with words. His plays were intended to be spoken on stage with minimal props and sets, so his words needed to stand alone without the help of the brilliant FX available to modern screenplay writers. He hardly ever came up with an original plot, either, but do we remember his sources today? Of course we don't. His contemporaries likewise plagiarised earlier writers and we don't remember them, either, until we study English lit at uni and are made to learn about them and their works:-)

And Shakespeare wasn't only the best fantasy writer but also the best poet. Not only are his plays are full of poetry but also his sonnets, read aloud, are perfect little monologues. He bridged the boundary between reading and performance better than anyone else I've read.

Tolkien I love not just for his stories and his influence on my beloved genre, but for the tremendous amount of background work he put into his writing. Anyone who invents a dozen or twenty languages, several of them in great detail, while holding down a day job deserves a medal and a pension. But his books are far richer because of this work and in my book he has set the mark for all fantasy writers after him. It is one of the things I harp on in my critiques. We can't all be Tolkien – in fact, we don't need to be – but if we are writing works set in another place and time language must be an important component. I recently mentioned in a critique that consistency in naming patterns and language generally can be a big help to the reader in sorting out who belongs to which race and fights on which side. Guy Gavriel Kay, a disciple of Tolkien, is the modern master of this discipline.

And Chaucer? I love him for his stories and his witty, wicked, compassionate understanding of human nature, but even more so because he is generally credited with being the first person to use the developing English language, rather than Norman French, as a medium for popular fiction. He is the twenty-somethingth great-grandfather of us all.

Several other writers almost make it – Defoe and Austen, for example, are probably four and five on my list, and if we look beyond the boundaries of our own language where do we stop? Dante, Horace, Goethe… Hey, I have to get ready to go out!

8 comments:

Carol Ryles said...

I'm even more of a philistine than you. Dare I admit that I liked the LOTR movies more than I liked the books? I loved the books enough to read them twice, including the Hobbit; but the movies were just magnificent. Usually I'm the one that says 'I liked the book better' when I see a movie adaptation. But not in this case.

I might blog my favourite books soon too. Just for fun.

Satima Flavell said...

Oh, please do, Carol. I'd love to know your faves!

The Hobbit would not be among mine, I fear. It was read aloud to my class in grade I, would you believe, and it scared the carp and all the other fish out of me.

Carol Ryles said...

My kids were aged from 4 to 9 when they heard an audio dramatization of the hobbit during one of our car trips across the Nullabor. The youngest one liked it. The oldest thought it was boring. And middle child preferred Winnie the Pooh :)

Satima Flavell said...

Yeah, me too. Winnie 4ever. And Enid Blyton. I really think Tolkien is Too Hard for kids. Yet your 4 yr old liked it! Hm. Well, they grow up faster these days. It seems I'm not grown up yet. I still can't bear to read horror. And at 7, The Hobbit was horror:-)

Carol Ryles said...

On another trip I read the entire 'Faraway Tree' to them. They all liked that. But the 4 year old grew up to like dark fantasy, so maybe that's why he didn't mind the scary bits in the Hobbit.

Imagine me said...

I'd agree about Shakespeare and LOTR. There's something universal in them. I'm not that much of a Chaucer fan. I'm not sure why. I'm usually not bothered by old style language as long as it is intelligible so it can't be that. Next in my list would be Jane Austen but really after that I find it very hard to select favourites. There are so many clever writers who have so much to say.

Satima Flavell said...

I agree, Helen. I was thinking in terms of who had the most influence in regard to the development of novel - and especially fantasy - writing. After my top three I'm hard put to pick faves, too, because after the C17 the novel took off and diversified so much.

Modern faves are another matter. I tend to follow particular writers for a few years then move on when they no longer charm me. Fickle, aren't I? But probably a typical reader in that regard.

notes from the edge said...

I would put LOTR among my top favourite books but unfortunately I don't have the Shakespeare gene. I do enjoy reading the sonnets occasionally. Earlier this year tried watching Hamlet on DVD and thought it was never going to end - philistine to the max. Strange to be studying English Literature and hardly touched on the bards work - we devoted more time to Bridget Jones Diary!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...