I started the month with The Greater Trumps by Charles Williams but I just couldn’t get into it. Feeling nostalgic, I reread The Way of Wyrd by Brian Bates, and then Quantum Night by Robert Sawyer (for a reading group that I’ve started at work).
The Greater Trumps, by Charles Williams
I’m not sure if I didn’t finish this because it was the third Williams book in a row, or because I didn’t really warm to any of the characters, or because I couldn’t visualize what the moving Tarot figures were supposed to be. Were they tiny people with a will of their own? How big were they?
I liked the characters of Aunt Sibyl and the Romani sister they meet on the road. They were interesting. The other characters were either ruthless or conventional, and therefore not sympatico.
The Way of Wyrd, by Brian Bates
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read this. It’s a classic. I used to keep two copies of it, in case I lent it to someone and it didn’t come back. Based on the Lacnunga or Leechbook, it’s the story of how a Saxon monk from Christianized Mercia travels to Sussex to gather information about the still-Heathen population, as part of the project to convert them to Christianity. He is assigned by the local king to be an assistant to a local sorcerer: a healer and practitioner of magic. As a result, he learns a lot more than he bargained for about Heathenry, and comes to respect it. Wulf, the sorcerer, teaches him all about Wyrd, and he has a direct experience of the spirits of Heathenry. The description of the land, plants, animals, and the spiritual practices of the Saxons are wonderful and detailed. Highly recommended.
Quantum Night, by Robert Sawyer
This is the second time I’ve read this book and it was just as gripping and relevant as the first time.
It includes reflections on utilitarianism, Zimbardo’s prison experiment, Milgram’s obedience experiment, the nature of consciousness, and more. It also has a Trump-like US president, and a fascinating cast of characters. When I read it the first time, I got some of the Canadian references but now I get most of them. Also glad to see the book drawing attention to the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (possibly even before the inquiry started).
I’m not sure I’m convinced that people’s consciousness stays in the same quantum state (Q1, Q2, or Q3) all the time barring total loss of consciousness followed by a reboot, but it’s a really interesting idea and certainly explains a lot about how the world works.
I added a few more books to my “to be read” pile yesterday.