25th May 2020
As a child I received a book titled The Earths Quartet as part of a Christmas or Birthday present, but never found the time nor inclination to read it. Having no idea what happened to that copy, when as an adult I saw the same tales, now rather more mundanely titled “The First Four Books”, I picked it up and intended to actually read it. Cut to some time later… and in my lockdown-inspired reading order I picked it off the shelf, and began this, the first of the four stories.
In which we meet a young boy who accidentally reveals a talent for magic, and is brought to meet the appropriate authorities to be educated. Only he’s a tad too keen, and does something perhaps he oughtn’t… leading to a plot.
I did not particularly find this tale to be my cup of tea. It reminds me a little of John Grisham’s legal thrillers - in the sense that the narrative is very factual and event based. There’s a lot of descriptive language used about the world, but very little personality and focus on the character. I feel like my reading brain is much more in tune with something presented in the manner of Harry Potter - where I’m placed inside the character’s head and able to follow alone emotionally - than this, which felt much more movie-like and third-person.
The language feels dated and very formal, and I found this off-putting. My mind would very easily drift away, despite my eyes continuing to scan the page, and for a relatively short tale I found myself almost every chapter having to turn back pages to work out where I’d stopped absorbing the meaning of the words I was scanning.
I’m not sure that if I’d attempted reading this as a child I would even have got to the end of the first book without giving up, and as an adult I can’t say I’m particularly minded to continue on to the second adventure. I’m looking for stories to relax me and fill my days, and this was overall too hard going for the job I wanted it to do.