Leavitt "The Dollmage"

Ian W. Riddell iwriddell at charter.net
Tue May 27 14:39:59 EDT 2003

Hi all. Well, I just finished Martine Leavitt's "The Dollmage". Wow. 
I hope I can find more from this author - has anyone here read her 
other books. I do discuss the ending a bit below, so if you haven't 
read it, don't continue unless you want is spoiled a little.

What struck me most powerfully as I read was that Leavitt managed to 
give us something that I've not seen before (or remembered anyway) - 
a completely unsympathetic narrator.

Some of the writing at times was reminiscent of Ursula LeGuin (which 
is, of course, a Good Thing).

And, I'll admit that I was a little thrown by the ending. I was all 
geared up for tragedy and she gave us the resolution I had hoped for, 
but not expected. Not that I had hoped that Renoa and Areth would die 
(well, maybe Areth!), but the ending was appropriate for the 
"message" that the book was pointing us toward: that hatred and fear 
are the easy way and love and contentment and kindness are the hard, 
but better way. I've just read so many books that have gone for the 
inevitable sad ending, I was a little surprised that the "good" 
character was rewarded in the end. Not that she didn't suffer her 
share of pain and grief.

Two passages stick in my mind (and will be recorded in my "book of 
quotes"). Both are from Chapter 7 (The Recipe Doll) and talk about 
the main "message" of the book that I mentioned above and another of 
the major themes of the book, "fear":

"Annakey stood tall. Something inside her had changed, and I had not 
seen it. Or perhaps I changed, for until that moment I had 
interpreted her gentleness and cheer for weakness, not knowing the 
strength it took to choose it. Now I saw her strength."

"Do not pretend you do not know of what I speak. Do we not all fear 
the power that is in us to do good, to love, to make the world 
better? It is not our dark souls that frighten us. We are familiar 
with that part of ourselves. It is the glorey parts, the singing, 
ploughing, dreaming, loving parts that terrify us."



Fairy tales are not true--fairy tales are important, and they are not 
true, they are more than true. Not because they tell us that dragons 
exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be defeated.
G.K. Chesterton

Ian W. Riddell
iwriddell at charter.net
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