Saturday, May 10, 2014

Falling in love with love again

Ana finds a long lost love story. 

Two weeks ago, I obtained a new used copy of a most-favorite book I loaned out many years ago. Naturally, I started reading it right away, eager to revisit the characters I remembered so fondly.

The book is Darkmage, written in 1986 by Barbara Hambly, a prolific science fiction / fantasy writer. I was struck by the complexity of her sentence structure--something I did not notice back in the early 1990's. Something that texting and sound bites have chased out of town.

When I got to page 169, I found the passage where the heroine, a nerdy computer programmer realizes she is in love with the wizard hero. I wish I could write like this:

       For a long time their eyes held.
       She thought, with a curious sense of shock that was not a complete surprise, I expected it to be different than this. For a time it seemed to her that neither of them breathed--that it was impossible that the only point of contact between their two bodies was where her petticoats brushed against his booted ankle in a froth of voile. Part of her mind  was saying in its usual cool and practical tones, This is ridiculous. I don't do things like this-while another part said, I want him. 
     For a time the sooty-gray shadows of the empty drawing room were like completely still water, fathoms deep and silent but for the distant chatter of birds outside. The smell of the woods, of grass damp from last night's rain and of the far-off acrid smoke of the burning kilns, came to her through the open windows, mixed with the faint scent of soap from bis flesh and hair. he stood so still that one facet of the crystal earring her wore held a gleam of the last light from outside like a tiny mirror, steely and unmoving in the deepening gloom; the only thing that stirred was the white rim of light on the ruffles of his shirt with the rise and fall of his chest. 
      Everything seemed incredibly clear to her, but without pattern. It had nothing in common with her encounters with Gary and her nervous weighing and reweighing of pro and con. She only knew that she wanted him and knew, looking up into the wide, black pupils of his eyes, that he wanted her.
      He turned abruptly, almost angrily, away and walked from the windows into the twilight cavern if the room. "I will not do this," he said softly. She could hear the faint tremor of his deep  voice. "You are dependent on me and under my protection in this world. I won't take advantage of that."
      His back was to her, the diffuse whiteness of the fading day putting a sheen like pewter on the velvet of his shoulders. She knew well enough that he was conscious of her eyes upon his back. She was aware of her own feelings less clearly, shocked and appalled, not by them, but by their strength. Nothing she had ever experienced with Gary, not even sex, came anywhere near this need--not to have, but to give.
      After a moment he turned and walked silently from the room. 


  1. I liked the description of the smells and scents in the longest paragraph, but I was itching to get out my 'editing pen' and get rid of the repeated 'that' - especially the three occurrences in one sentence!

  2. What we consider "good" grammar has changed. Readers have changed.

  3. Very true - and writing styles have changed since the 1980s - and also since the 1960s/70s - which is why I cringe now if I look at my old novels!

  4. I liked the drama of the writing. Because it's so different from what I'm used to at this point, I had a hard time getting into it as much as you probably did, Ana, but some of it is beautiful.

  5. This book, and the Rissa Kerguelin stories, shepherded my transition from science fiction devotee to lover of romance.

  6. I can see why. My favorite science fiction stories are the ones that have romantic elements in them.

  7. I love revisiting stories. I have some copies of books that are worn out and falling apart because I've read them so many times. If I'd ever come across 'back up' copies, I'd certainly grab them. :)