Ragnarok and A secret alchemy

Ragnarok by A S Byatt

Ragnarok retells the finale of Norse mythology. A story of
the destruction of life on this planet and the end of the gods themselves.

Some members found it unreadable. Those who did persevere
commented that it was hard work to read . One admitted he only followed the
major characters by name as the number of others made it too complex. He also
felt it necessary to reread portions whenever he broke his reading. Another
member tried to deal with the complexity by constructing a character map. The
volume we have is a proof edition and it may be that a character map will be
included in the final version- certainly this was thought necessary.

There was a comment that it bore a relationship to the
Tolkien books. A member commented that Tolkien himself saw his work as
constructing a mythology for England in the same way that Norse mythology does
for Scandinavia.

The book was summed up as an unusual even unique work.

After the discussion it was found that the word Ragnarok is
used widely, for example as a computer game, and the name of a band.  The Wagner Gotterdammerung in the Ring cycle draws
on the same myth.

A secret alchemy by Emma Darwin

This combines two stories; that of Elizabeth Woodville,
widow of Edward IV, and her brother Anthony, surrogate father to the “princes
in the tower” Edward ( Ned ) and Richard ( Dickon ). Interwoven is a modern day
story, only peripherally related, about a family of printers and their printing

3 members hadn’t read the book.

Among those who had read the book there was some puzzlement
as the modern story wasn’t felt to add anything to the book. It was agreed that
it provided an emotional engagement with a controversial episode in English history.
Richard III is seen as the villain partly because of the Shakespeare play.

One member commented there was a feeling of sadness
throughout the book although it is admittedly about a sad episode.


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