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Lens Of The World (1990)

Lens of the World (1990)
3.9 of 5 Votes: 3
0688094848 (ISBN13: 9780688094843)
william morrow & company
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Lens Of The World (1990)
Lens Of The World (1990)

About book: Oh wow, what a book. I was reaching for a way to describe the feel of it, and I suppose the best one was 'Diana Wynne Jones meets Umberto Eco,' and yet not. There is the sense of a thoroughly sensible fantasy setting, not flashy but deep. Erudite things happen, there is learning and science (mindfulness!) and wisdom, and then, later, oh, yes, the wars and the intrigue and the occasional hint of the supernatural. Often dark, never grim, sometimes horrible, always told with a light touch that emphasises the narrators interests and perceptions, revealing character and world by omission or brusque understatement.Nazhuret is raised in a military academy with no knowledge of his origins, as much a servant as a student, putting off the inevitable day when he must take service with a Duke or hit the road. On the eve of his final day, he comes oddly under the tutelage of the mysterious Powl, and an apprenticeship begins. Powl makes Nazhuret ready for the world, but is the world ready for Nazhuret? Sent out to find his own way, Nazhuret wanders and has =adventures and learns unpleasant lessons and has ambiguous and confusing encounters that culminate in an attempt to thwart an attack on the king.It's a terrific tale, a bildungsroman and a fantasy classic that shows what you can do with a short tight tale and a little thought and learning about the world and about people. A new favourite.

This reminded me of the much more recent the Name of the Wind, another novel that is set in a fantasy world and recounts how a figure of power and mystery grew into his current reputation. But, I enjoyed Lens of the World much more - it is more tightly plotted, with better control of narrative voice, and a lovely writing style. The main character is also more likable, once he has finished his training. He is far from perfect, but his impulses are good, sometimes despite his better judgment, and he has an unshakeable core of autonomy. The way the author handles sexuality and desire is also appealing - directly, yet without letting it dominate any aspect of the story. While this book is the first in a trilogy, it makes for a satisfying stand-alone read, and I may not get back to the later volumes for a while.
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First of a trilogy told in first person by the protagonist, an ugly boy-child of no certain origin named by an unknown 'uncle' with the unusual name of Nazhuret. Raised in a class and race conscious society this person transcends his world like the Jungian archetypal Law Giver. He becomes the one who is able to be both among and separate from his society so lead them to a new path. Thus Nazhuret becomes the lens of the world.This first is the story of Nazhuret's journey beyond his known world, into madness, then the slow return in order to understand. On the way he is forced to learn discipline of mind and body by a teacher, Powl, who has passed this way before Nazurhet. The Lens of the World trilogy: 1. The Lens of the World 2. King of the Dead 3. Belly of the Wolf
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