Something strange happened in the fourteenth century... it was an age of unprecedented catastrophe for western Europe: widespread famine due to climate change, economic collapse, uncontrollable heresies, social upheaval, endemic war, and, to compound the misery, the physical and psychological devastation of the Black Death. As a result, Europeans emerged from the fourteenth century profoundly - and frighteningly - changed. Medieval Europe had been an intensely spiritual society: the salvation of the soul was paramount. Post-fourteenth century Europe abandoned spirituality for secularism, materialism, and worldliness. Its peoples embraced technology and science, and developed the most aggressively invasive mentality of world history. Why this profound shift from the internal quest for spiritual salvation to a craving for world domination? Was it just the end result of over a hundred years of catastrophe... or was there another reason?
"The Crucible" presents an explanation couched in a medieval understanding of the world... Medieval Europe was a world of evil incarnate, a world where demons and angels walked the same fields as men and women, a world where the armies of God and of Satan arrayed themselves for the final battle... we now live in the aftermath of that battle, but are we sure who won?
This is an excerpt of the Author's Note at the beginning of Sara Douglass' "The Nameless Day", Book One of The Crucible series.
Her name is not unknown to me, although I had yet, until last night, read anything by her. But wow. This book has sucked me in. I've always liked the play between Good and Evil, especially when this is brought about by flawed characters, when it is proven time and time again that absolute black or white is no way to view the world, that we are all various shades of grey. This promises to be such a one.
And the reason I've reproduced part of the Author's Note? To highlight how a few simple sentences can help me understand one aspect of history so much better than a ton of history books. And how this in turn helps answer an question that's always been on my mind : who the f**k do/did the British/French/Spanish/insert other colonizing power) think they are/were to go around the world colonizing the world and shoving everyone under their rule with absolutely no thought for the peoples already living in places like the Malay peninsula, the Indian sub-continent, North and South America... how on earth did these people get so arrogant? Why? ... and so, with a few sentences, Sara Douglass has provided me with some food for thought, and a (small) wish to learn more about this period of world history.
So last night I started on the book, and was at page 82 when Sleep insisted I cater to her demands. When I turned to switch off the light, I realised it was 230am. I love it when a book does that to me! :-)
So my plans for today? Some NaNo-ing, then more of The Crucible!
a little addition: so much for my plan to support physical/local bookstores. So in September I placed an in-store pick-up order for a Dark Tower-related comic book oops I mean graphic novel, Stephen King commissioned and approved, covering Roland's early years. It was due out in October sometime, so I "iou"ed Kosh, b/c this was going to be our 1st year anniversary present from me to him. The bookstore was supposed to call me when the book arrived. A little later I checked back and saw the release date had been moved to November sometime. Fine. So now it's the second half of November, and I finally remember to check amazon.com for details, and whaddayaknow, it's been out since November 7th! And no, I got no phone call from the friggin bookstore. Too friggin' bad, dudes, I'll just go ahead and get it from amazon for almost $9 less than what I was willing to pay y'all.
/end bitching mode.