One (a Richard Bach novel)

gold mobius strip against blue sky is background art for “One”
The mobius strip is symbolic

One is a novel by Richard Bach, best known for his fable for adults, Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, in which the author proved to the gullible that, with determination and practice, anyone could be anything.

In One, adroitly subtitled “a novel” to keep people from thinking it is nonfiction, Bach fictionalizes his philosophical position that everything is an illusion.

One opens with the real Bach and his real wife, Leslie, flying to the real city of Los Angeles.

On the way to LA, the landscape below disappears. The couple drop into another dimension in which time is timeless and choices are limitless.

The couple take off and land to meet the selves they would be if they had lived in other times and other places and made other choices: They might never have met!

Bach and his wife come across as having the personalities of Popsicle sticks.

Bach’s philosophical discussion is on a par with his characterization skills. It doesn’t take an Einstein to know that living in a different century in a different place you’d have different choices, or that making different decisions results in different outcomes.

The Bachs divorced in 1997, which just goes to show the value of having alternative realities.

One: a novel by Richard Bach
Silver arrow books series
W. Morrow. ©1988. 1st.ed. 284 p.
1988 bestseller #9; my grade: C-

©2019 Linda G. Aragoni

The Eyes of the Dragon

The Eyes of the Dragon is a once-upon-a-time fantasy written by Stephen King for his daughter, who didn’t want to read his horror stories.

Old, and never-smart King Roland favored his older son, Peter, over the younger, Thomas. Peter is handsomer and smarter than Tom and he’s had the advantage of being instructed by their mother, who died when Tom was born.

Roland’s magician, Flagg, takes advantage of Roland’s infirmities and Thomas’s jealousies.

When Roland dies under suspicious circumstances, blame falls on Peter.

He’s confined to the tower for life.

Flagg is not only an expert on killing with poisons. He’s also a master of killing peasants with excessive taxation. That and a dog are what cause Flagg’s not-a-moment-too-soon downfall.

Eyes of the Dragon will appeal to young adult readers (and older ones) who, like Naomi King, don’t care for Stephen King’s horror stories.

Eyes has time-honored features of fantasy fiction—a handsome prince, a loyal sidekick, an evil wizard, and a tall tower from which no prisoner can possibly escape.

It also has David Palladini’s charming art work to give the story a feel of antiquity.

Flagg, the dastardly magician, hooded and secretive
David Palladini’s art work

Eyes doesn’t have a princess for Peter, but even in fantasy, you can’t have everything.

The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King
Illus. David Palladini
Viking Penguin. © 1987. 326 p.
1987 bestseller #10; my grade: A-

©2019 Linda G. Aragoni

Masquerade: Armchair treasure hunt

front dust jacket of Masquerade by Kit Williams mixes vintage English country scene with fantastic imaginary tree covered with flowers.
Cover illustration by the author

Masquerade, a fantasy by author-illustrator Kit Williams, has talking animals, squeaky-clean peasants, and a treasure for the first reader able to solve its mystery.

Moon having fallen in love with the Sun, makes him a necklace as a token of her affection and sends Jack Hare to deliver it.

After adventures through earth, air, fire and water—and a series of riddles—Jack reaches the Sun only to realize the necklace is missing.

Readers are asked to figure out from the text and pictures where Jack lost the necklace.

According to the dust jacket, Williams made an 18-carat gold jewel and buried it in Britain in a ceramic container inscribed:

“I am the Keeper of the Jewel of
MASQUERADE
which lies waiting safe inside me
for you or Eternity.”

Although Masquerade looks like a children’s book and is classified as juvenile fiction in libraries, it isn’t appropriate for children and there’s not enough story for adults.

Masquerade‘s attraction is clearly the gold jewel.

18-carat gold jewel made by Kit Williams
The prize for the lucky winner

The picture book and buried jewel inspired a genre known as armchair treasure hunts.

For novel readers, story of the scandal around the first person to claim the treasure is more entertaining than Masquerade.

Masquerade by Kit Williams
Schocken Books, 1st American ed. 1980, ©1979.
1981 bestseller #5. My grade: C-

©2019 Linda G. Aragoni

Watership Down is for children of all ages

In Richard Adams’s Watership Down a dozen males bond as they flee unknown danger into certain danger in search of a better life.

The adventurers are all rabbits.

The story opens when Fiver, a clairvoyant runt, senses disaster. He convinces his big brother, Hazel, to warn the warren’s chief rabbit.

Sign says six acres are to be developed into housing.
                 Fiver senses something ominous about this sign.

Hazel’s warning is ignored but the brothers and nine other rabbits leave the warren, ready to risk life in the open until they can find safety away from men.

Their exit is not a day too soon.

The warren is bulldozed to make way for a housing development. Only one rabbit escapes to tell the story.

The rabbits soon realize the habits they learned as kittens won’t work on Watership Down.

They learn to work together drawing on each individual’s strengths, befriend animals with whom they have common enemies, and become masters of strategy.

Adams is marvelously inventive in giving each rabbit the lapine equivalent of a personality and creating a rabbit oral tradition on which readers may eavesdrop.

Watership Down is a real place in England’s Berkshires and the landmarks that figure in the story actually exist.

Map of  Watership Down from the novel
   The map from Watership Down doesn’t photograph well

Adams is equally factual about rabbit habits, drawing on The Private Life of the Rabbit by R. M. Lockley.

Adams’s work ranks with C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia and Tokien’s Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, although it differs from them in one significant way: Its characters are all ones we’ve all seen.

Watership Down by Richard Adams
Macmillian, 1972, 429 p.
1974 bestseller #2. My grade: A

© 2018 Linda Gorton Aragoni