Sunday, May 24, 2015

Howard of Warwick's THE HERETICS OF DE'ATH

You may recall last fall when my book-crazy mother, fan of all things with even a hint of medieval mystery fiction, turned me on to Howard of Warwick and his truly side-splitting historical farce, The Domesday Book, No Not That One. I was doubled over, I was in tears, I was gasping for air. I took many months to recover from teh funneh.

Then I finally attempted another of Mr. Of Warwick's books, and while I did not have quite the same life-threatening experiences, I did have a pretty good time getting to know one Brother Hermitage, who made a cameo appearance in Domesday but whose true character awaited discovery.

His true character being sort of an idiot savant Brother William of Baskerville, or a very sheltered Sherlock Holmes. And yes, he has an Adso/Watson of sorts in the redoubtable person of one Wat the Weaver, purveyor of pornographic tapestries, in other words, a perfect wordly foil to the decidedly unworldly Hermitage.*

In this first novel of his chronicles, Hermitage finds himself in a situation somewhat similar to that which made Brother William famous**, namely, a murder in a monastery.***Or at least a death, one which seems perfectly natural at first, but the innocent-seeming narrative of which is quickly seized on by powers greater than Hermitage as a way to further decidedly un-innocent ends.

How great those powers are, what is their scheme, and how it all relates to an exceedingly obscure and farcically pointless theological argument (did Jesus get sand in his shoes while enduring his 40 days in the wilderness?) (No, really, that's the point of contention) is kept secret until the denouement, when an entire novel's worth of bizarre and maddening tension is released as rapidly -- and perhaps with much the same sound -- as a balloon that has been inflated, but not tied off, flies around a room.

Or, in other words, this time around, the belly laughs are saved up for a big gasping mess at the end, like, say, verbs in a German sentence. As described by my mom, anyway.****

Speaking of the ending, it also sets up the most ridiculous conspiracy theory, maybe ever, concerning a certain very famous event in English history.

Now, if I can just figure out what a Dingle is. It can't be what my inner twelve-year-old thinks it is.

Great stuff. My compliments to the scribe.

*Whose name, we learn, was bestowed on him early in his monastic career, when his fellow monks realized his nature as a big ol' dork even by monk standards, and suggested strongly the he consider a life of contemplative solitude. And silence.

**I'm talking about Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose, which every reasonably civilized person should at least watch in cinema form if they're not up to reading its very dense and allusive and erudite pages. But you'd be cheating yourself, however wonderful the film is (which is very).

***An edifice which rejoices in the name of De'Ath's Dingle. Um.

****I don't know much German.


  1. I recommend you to read the book following: the Garde Robe of d'Eath! better than the Heretics of d'Eath -although I really like it- and hilarious!!

  2. Oh yes! I have already acquired it for my magical book reading device 8)


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