Ian W. Riddell iwriddell at
Fri Oct 11 01:57:11 EDT 2002

OK, this may sound weird (and I will admit it's not entirely thought 
through yet) but bare with me.

I'm in the middle of "Hexwood" right now and, truth be told, a little 
confused. I realized, though, that this was not a bad thing. I realized 
I had no idea how this was going to turn out in the end or what the 
characters were going to end up doing to resolve the situation. I am 
cursed, often, with being able to see the end of things at the 
beginning. It is a curse because it ruins movies and novels galore for 
(and others if I open my mouth).

I often find myself saying (as I did tonight while watching "High 
Crimes") "Well, obviously this is what the ending is going to be."

I'm not trying to blow my own horn here, just express a frustration I 
have with a lot of fiction I encounter, whether it be on TV, in a 
movie, or in a book.

DWJ is rarely, if ever like that. I realized while starting "Hexwood" 
that I was really going to have to work to follow this. That Jones 
hadn't laid it out so clearly that there was no where else to go but 
where it was obviously going to go.

I like that a lot! I like that her books start out pretty messy, 
because that is the way so many things in life start: messy. And things 
work out, of course, but they end up working out because of who the 
characters are and how they interact with the situation they've 
stumbled over/created for themselves. I get the feeling when I read a 
lot of books that authors know what they want to have happen at the end 
and then work back, which eliminates everything except that which 
leads, ineveitably, to the predetermined end. Jones doesn't do that 
(that I can see) and so what I found a little off-putting at first (the 
messiness at the start of "Hexwood" and "Fire and Hemlock" for example) 
is one of her greatest strengths and what will bring me back to these 
books again and again.

And what the heck does the cover of the new edition of "Hexwood" have 
to do with anything, let alone the contents of the book that it's on?



We don’t need lists of rights and wrongs, tables of do’s and don’ts: we 
need books, time, and silence.  "Thou shalt not" is soon forgotten, but 
"Once upon a time" lasts forever.
       Philip Pullman
Ian W. Riddell
iwriddell at
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