Tuesday, July 31, 2007

No. 29 - The Rise of Magic in Early Medieval Europe

by Valerie I.J. Flint

Started: July 30
Finished: August 15

Notes: I picked this up a couple of years ago in a New Age shop in Columbus, Ohio. I was in the store and I kind of felt like I had to buy something, so this was among the books I picked up. I'm not a New Ager, but I've found a lot of the small, non-chain shops can have plenty to offer speculative fiction writers. I've been slacking on my non-fiction reading this year, so I thought I'd get around to this one now. Besides, it also ties in well with historical studies on religion and magic, an important element in the world of my trilogy. I've also gained interest in mixing horror and fantasy (something I believe Neil Gaiman is the king of, though Stephen King did a pretty good job with his "Dark Tower" series), and this book might help me some there.

Mini review: Thank the Lord I am finished with this book. It was most interesting, but quite dense. But, what can you expect from a British collegiate textbook? I learned a lot, but the tedious part was the amount of information the author provides in an attempt to prove her point, or at least to suggest her point is worth further study. Basically, the writer is suggesting the early church did not deal with magic (and, by association, paganism) nearly as harshly as the later church, and that the early church did not always try to stomp out magic and paganism, but in some cases tried to hijack magic, renaming the church's version of magic "miracles." In Dungeons & Dragons terms, the church tried to wipe out arcane magic while creating/promoting divine magics. I personally don't agree or disagree with the writer's point, but found the whole subject interesting. Whether she is correct or not, I guess there's no definitive answer, though she did back of her arguments quite strongly.

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