Sometimes there are points in your life when you want to relax into the known and comforting. Then there are the times when you’re keen to try something new and exciting. When my life is more challenging I prefer the first option while the second is perfect for when everything is calmer. Rarely do the two overlap; that is until I started reading Merritt.
I fancied a quick read back on Saturday as the Boss and I headed to the seaside to visit her Dad and so I settled back to read ‘Through the Dragon Glass’. By the time we’d gotten halfway there I’d finished it and gone on to ‘The People of the Pit’ just because it’s the second story in my Collected Works. I finished it just as we pulled into the Old Mans driveway, feeling more relaxed and satisfied than I had in quite a while. I spent the rest of the afternoon thinking about these stories while The Boss and Boss Daughter chatted to their family. Luckily I’m known for being a tad quiet so no-one really noticed any difference.
On the way back I fired up the old Kindle and began ‘The Moon Pool’ and found a story that seems to be an amalgam of the previous two, in the best possible way. I’ve only managed to read the first part so far, which has been excellent. It makes sense, therefore, to look at all three parts separately, giving my thoughts accordingly.
You are hereby warned that spoilers follow!
What motivates a hero? For Merritt the answers easy; loyalty and curiosity. In ‘Dragon Glass’ Herdon is motivated by curiosity to enter the mirror. The narrator stands guard due to loyalty. The focal character in The people of the Pit was motivated by curiosity. Then we come to The Moon Pool. We start off with Throckmorton and party, motivated by curiosity. Then along comes Goodwin and we have loyalty to a friend as well as a very natural curiosity. Both of these virtues are worthy motivators and both are getting rarer.
Before I go any further, I’d like to say how much I enjoyed the framing device at the start. I’ve always been a sucker for a well-framed narrative and the gentle but intriguing one used by Merritt pulled me right in. So much information was put into that first couple of pages in a clear manner, a complete info-dump but perfectly done. Before the story had even got underway I knew everything that I needed to.
The story moves along at a fair old clip as I’ve come to expect. Before too long Throckmorton has laid the entire situation out to Goodwin and described the entity to us, shown the reader some strong, and very competent female characters and drawn us into the mystery. When Throckmorton disappears Goodwin investigates out of loyalty.
It’s pure narrative genius.
The description is just about perfect. I can see the entity, the slabs that protect its habitat, the markings on the stones. I can see the islands and the men that assist them, it’s all in there for the skull cinema to enjoy. What really stands out though is the structure. Information is doled out as the story needs it and not just because the writer wants to sell us his story. Things happen when they need to and after you’ve mulled it over you realize that it couldn’t have happened in any other way. There are callbacks aplenty, Merritt never shows us something without it having a purpose.
And he does all that with a brevity that others purveyors of fantasy could do well from copying.
I’m a third of the way in and I’m loving the story. I’ll be continuing my thoughts on the Moon Pool in Part Two on Thursday.
Until then take care