This is just the second review published in Mythaxis. The
decision was taken because reviews of this important book in other
publications appeared to lack substance.
At the outset we are confronted with news
reports of simultaneous but disparate events: a crop failure in Bhutan,
the death of an elderly American poet, the closure of a Chinese bicycle
factory, an archaeological discovery on a remote Scottish island,
rumours of vampirism in Omaha, Nebraska, an astronomical observation
which appears to conflict with current cosmological theory.
Prutt, when not engaged in his musical researches, sampling exotic foods
or avoiding amatory entanglements, is preoccupied with mastering a
frustratingly absorbing game called Solversion, and pays little
attention to daily news items unless they threaten imminent catastrophe.
We share his gradual awareness that the lives of people around him are
being disturbed, his eventual suspicion that the cause or causes of this
disturbance could be traced to one or more of the reported events he had
ignored, and bizarrely, that there seem to be inexplicable parallels
between these happenings and his progress through the increasingly
challenging levels of Solversion.
As we follow Prutt's progress through the game, Dudoriac generously
provides us with clues which may or may not prove helpful in making
connections between external events and the game itself. Some of these
are inevitably discovered and pursued by Prutt, but others will be
spotted by the astute reader. The challenge is to know when we are
deliberately being misled. Chapter headings, some bristling with
homonyms, match different game levels: Gates & Fêtes, Gardens & Wardens,
A-Trails & B-Trails, Para-sights, Crone City...
Throughout the text are scattered sudden microcosmic explorations, such
as the architecture of a breadcrumb, prismatic condensation on a
spider's web, the texture of perspiring skin, the colours in a patch of
lichen... These may seem either like little party favours for the
attentive reader, or more like road-blocks for the frustrated, but in my
view they are rewarding both as fine descriptive passages, and for the
further concealed signposts they contain.
By the time Prutt has manoeuvred his way through to Crone City, in his
external life he has become deeply involved with Anna Logue, whose
safety he believes is threatened by another Solversion player. This is
the mysterious Iryon Quarth, whose subtle manipulations are revealed in
a series of startling dénouements. The unmasking of Quarth, and the
breathtaking rescue of Anna from his clutches, bring the novel to its
In a note to musicologists, Dudoriac tells us that the structure of the
book is that of a six-part fugue. I am willing to predict that this
aspect alone will provide a subject for future theses. Others may, with
academic relish, pick out the allegorical and mythical elements, the
linguistic devices, the influences of other writers. This is such a
disturbing, powerful and exciting work that such analysis is inevitable.
Dudoriac's insights into the psychology of addictive games suggest a
great deal of preparatory research, and Prutt's tortuous progress
through the game of Solversion is in itself a tour-de-force.
Dudoriac's skill in weaving credible links between the game, the lives
of his characters and the seemingly random news reports is quite
astonishing. For a first novel this is puppet-mastery of a very high
order. Don't miss it!
© Don B. Levitt 2013 All Rights Reserved