Paperback è Vellum MOBI Þ

Paperback è Vellum MOBI Þ


Vellum ❴Epub❵ ➝ Vellum Author Hal Duncan – Capitalsoftworks.co.uk An extraordinary, incendiary debut from a rare new talent, Vellum showcases a complex and sophisticated level of writing coupled with a fecund imagination that defies description VELLUM THE BOOK OF AL An extraordinary, incendiary debut from a rare new talent, Vellum showcases a complex and sophisticated level of writing coupled with a fecund imagination that defies description Vellum THE BOOK OF ALL HOURSIt sand angels and demons walk the earth Once they were human now they are unkin, transformed by the ancient machine code language of reality itself They seek The Book of All Hours, the mythical tome within which the blueprint for all reality is transcribed, which has been lost somewhere in the Vellum the vast realm of eternity upon which our world is a mere scratchThe Vellum, where the unkin are gathering for warThe Vellum, where a fallen angel and a renegade devil are about to settle an age old feudThe Vellum, where the past, present, and future will collide with ancient worlds and mythsAnd the Vellum will burn.

  • Paperback
  • 463 pages
  • Vellum
  • Hal Duncan
  • English
  • 08 November 2018
  • 0345487311

About the Author: Hal Duncan

Hal Duncan is the author of Vellum, which was a finalist for both the William H Crawford Award and the Locus Award for Best First Novel He is a member of the Glasgow SF Writers Circle He lives in the West End of Glasgow.



10 thoughts on “Vellum

  1. Mara Mara says:

    This book was actually painful to read I m not entirely sure why I didn t just put it down It was like reading modern art or listening to modern music, which, if you re into it, is fine, but if you re not, you just see something meaningless or hear disharmonies, that s only art or music because someone said so Reading this, I felt like Duncan wrote bits of assorted stories on cards and then shuffled them together and called it a book Some of the bits are chronological, some of them even make This book was actually painful to read I m not entirely sure why I didn t just put it down It was like reading modern art or listening to modern music, which, if you re into it, is fine, but if you re not, you just see something meaningless or hear disharmonies, that s only art or music because someone said so Reading this, I felt like Duncan wrote bits of assorted stories on cards and then shuffled them together and called it a book Some of the bits are chronological, some of them even make sense Some involve the same characters, although it s hard to always be sure, since everyone seems to have the same name, or to change names several times But it s not a narrative There are bits, nothan a few pages each time that tell a coherent story, and the only reason I give this book even part of a star is because some of these bits are good If he d stuck with one of these ideas and fleshed it out, instead of flitting all over the place, Duncan might have had something worth reading

  2. Amanda Amanda says:

    One of my all time favorite books ever which, as I ve noticed is becoming somewhat of a trend when i adore a book, has a low rating on here I have no idea why my tastes are dissimilar to the majority of readers out there But from the dozens of crappy cookie cutter books I see on here that have near perfect ratings, for reasons that are simply beyond me , I am eternally grateful that they are I liked the sequel too, but this was leagues better

  3. Christine (AR) Christine (AR) says:

    The war in heaven and on earth and on multiple variations of earth between the old school archangels, the rebel demons and the conscientious objectors.This is an amazing book It s almost impossible to describe, but the closest I can come is that it s like a mixture of Gibson and King s The Stand and the movie Dogma if it took itself seriously with elements of Godot thrown in when the characters from the prologue keep showing up throughout the book on an endless journey through a deserted et The war in heaven and on earth and on multiple variations of earth between the old school archangels, the rebel demons and the conscientious objectors.This is an amazing book It s almost impossible to describe, but the closest I can come is that it s like a mixture of Gibson and King s The Stand and the movie Dogma if it took itself seriously with elements of Godot thrown in when the characters from the prologue keep showing up throughout the book on an endless journey through a deserted eternity of possible worlds Sidebar My theory on that storyline is that it absolutely is a shout out to Beckett, and that instead of waiting for God the characters are becoming God Anyway I can see why most of the reviewers ongive this either five stars or one, because this book is a lot of work to read The story is non linear, there are multiple viewpoints and the scenes take place in multiple time periods I was never sure if the characters were the same people being re born throughout one timeline, or if maybe all the stories were taking place simultaneously, or if maybe they weren t even the same people at all, just archetypes that needed to be re enacted forever, but honestly I don t think it really matters.In the book, Duncan describes the Cant, or the language of all life the word of God made real as something that can be read up or down or left to right or right to left or as a pictograph beginning in the center This book is the same way, in a sense If you try too hard to figure it out, you ll probably get frustrated and give up However, if you just read it and absorb it, it starts to make sense Like I said, it s a lot of work, and I admit I probably would have given up on this if it weren t one of the most beautifully written books I ve read in years Every few paragraphs I found a line I wanted to underline or read out loud to someone So in conclusion, I think Hal Duncan is a brilliant writer and that this is a brilliant book I m dying to find out what happens in the concluding volume, Ink, but I m almost too exhausted by Vellum to read it right away Highly, highly recommended

  4. Graham Graham says:

    I gave VELLUM a good go but in the end I realised it wasn t my cup of tea so I had to give it up after 100 pages I appreciate the author s intent and his unconventional approach and his breadth of intellectual understanding is frequently astounding But this is a novel lacking in the basic principles of a story narrative, characterisation, dialogue, action A bunch of expletive driven characters exist in a lawless world, and both good and evil are as uninteresting as each other The narrative I gave VELLUM a good go but in the end I realised it wasn t my cup of tea so I had to give it up after 100 pages I appreciate the author s intent and his unconventional approach and his breadth of intellectual understanding is frequently astounding But this is a novel lacking in the basic principles of a story narrative, characterisation, dialogue, action A bunch of expletive driven characters exist in a lawless world, and both good and evil are as uninteresting as each other The narrative jumps all over the place from the present to the future to the past and it s a book you have to really work at to fully understand but I just don t feel it s worth the effort I ll be careful to avoid Duncan s work in future

  5. Ell Eastwood Ell Eastwood says:

    This was me the entire time I was reading this I mean seriously, ask me anything about this book and I ll be like I don t know.Who was the main character I don t know What was the plot I don t know How did it end I don t know What is the Book of all hours I don t know Why did the author switch between three different fonts I DON T KNOW.Okay, it s my fault, torturing myself, because I could tell almost from the start I wouldn t like the book, but I kept reading because I do not leave b This was me the entire time I was reading this I mean seriously, ask me anything about this book and I ll be like I don t know.Who was the main character I don t know What was the plot I don t know How did it end I don t know What is the Book of all hours I don t know Why did the author switch between three different fonts I DON T KNOW.Okay, it s my fault, torturing myself, because I could tell almost from the start I wouldn t like the book, but I kept reading because I do not leave books unfinished DAMN YOU, ELL The narrative is just ALL over the fucking place, jumping back and forth in time ALL THE TIME and I m sure some people like that but it was just too much for me.And also, switching between three different fonts WHY Switching between first and third person NO Switching WHO THE FIRST PERSON NARRATIVE WAS WITH NO EXPLANATION NO NO NO NO OH MY FUCKING GODS.I don t know, there were gods and like fifteen different stories and they all seemed cool but not a single one of them was told, not one was concluded, and in the end I feel as if I ve read fifteen first chapters or outlines for stories that went nowhere.I don t know what the story was, I don t even know what the fucking the epilogue was about and that was the only part of the entire book where the story was told straight forward, every paragraph directly referencing the one before it and that was of course refreshing as fuck after the rest of the book, but I STILL DON T KNOW WHAT WAS GOING ON.And what the fuck is an eclogue Like shut up it s fucking redHonestly, we re at a point where I honestly cannot tell if this was written ironically or not He has my Mark I Curzon Youngblood in his hands was probably using it to form the psychic link so I take it off him, flick the safety off The chi energy flows into it and I can feel the power in my hand, that mystic orgone life force of the universe Never mind the bollocks here s the real sex pistol And you can analyze that however you want What does it even mean Is it ironic Are we playing it straight I have no idea I could write a book longer than this one about all the things I did not understand about it.No, I did not like this book I only decided to read it because the cover was orange Not falling for that one again

  6. Al& Al& says:

    What a frustrating book The words are so beautiful, the sentences are all finely crafted work but when it s all thrown together, it is a big jumble of nothing in particular It s the beginning of eight million give or take story lines and none of them seem to go anywhere I tried to stay with it, but when there s nothing to grasp onto pretty sentences and engaging imagery are not enough to carry an entire novel.

  7. NYLSpublishing NYLSpublishing says:

    I can recall my physics professor once saying to me, The beauty, Joel, is in the complexity We scientists must patiently peel away each mysterious layer to reveal a beauty hidden within A quixotic statement, I thought, to which I immediately responded with raffish undergraduate repartee that I didn t care for hidden things since their existence was, to me, evidence of a disingenuous mind He didn t respond to that just simply smiled a pregnant smile that, years later when I think of the I can recall my physics professor once saying to me, The beauty, Joel, is in the complexity We scientists must patiently peel away each mysterious layer to reveal a beauty hidden within A quixotic statement, I thought, to which I immediately responded with raffish undergraduate repartee that I didn t care for hidden things since their existence was, to me, evidence of a disingenuous mind He didn t respond to that just simply smiled a pregnant smile that, years later when I think of the exchange, causes me to lower my head in quiet embarrassment for my, then, youthful self Duncan s debut novel, Vellum The Book of All Hours, is as complex as vector physics but to lovers of fantasy will be just as rewarding In this novel, and I use the term sparingly since much of the book is in some ways reminiscent of Dante Alighieri s, Inferno, it is the year 2017 and angels and demons, called unkin, are gearing up for the final battle between good and evil a battle neither side can win There is a book, The Book of All Hours, a tome commissioned by God that holds, in God s own words, a minute by minute meditation of His plans for eternity Allegedly, when the war between Lucifer and God commenced not all angels participated in the struggle Apparently, there were some who fled to earth, taking God s blueprint for eternity with them for safe keeping Once on earth, these angels entrusted the book to the Carter family who cared for it until they lost it Enter Reynard Carter, a thief, who steals the book in 2017 from the library of the university he attends Now that the book has been found , the unkin, arethan a little interested in retrieving it since whichever side possesses the book, and its power to alter reality, will ultimately win the war That is this reviewer s understanding of it and if it sounds a bit bizarre on its surface that s because it is But, remember, all fantasy is bizarre on its surface so this is not an indictment of Duncan s work in any way Vellum The Book of All Hours, at its core is a wonderfully complex book layered in history, mythology, and an awareness of contemporary social ills Layered, but not hidden which allows Duncan s non didactic approach to the novel s political undercurrents to flow freely and naturally Poetry lovers in general and spoken word artists in particular may find such euphoniously written lines as, they ll have slave ships ferrying dead sinners to their Western Lands to toil in plantation purgatories deeply satisfying However, there is a word of caution that must be interjected here Readers looking for a quick, mindless read or something in the vein of a dumbed down, Da Vinci Codeish literary frolic should leave this book on the shelf Juxtaposed with Brown s, Da Vinci Code, Vellum will feel like taking a graduate level course without satisfying any of its pre requisites In short, you simply cannot skim this one and not come away with something that resembles Milton s, Paradise Lost set to underground Irish hip hop I suppose when all is said and done, the embarrassment I feel at the recollection of my physics class tit for tat, stems from the realization that it is the disingenuous mind that thinks in terms of hidden things My professor s pitying smile, I know now, could only have meant that The honest mind, instead, seeks the truth beneath the layers Vellum, if you ll forgive my previous hyperbole, is not as complex as vector physics There s no exaggeration in saying, however, that it could be just as rewarding Joel Glenn, Book Critic The NYLS Book Review, Ltd All Rights Reserved

  8. rameau rameau says:

    I should know better than to trust awards by now Judges and critics seem to love all things pretentious Why exactly did I think this would be different It might have been the idea That there is a book of universe where all hours all that was, all that is, all that could be are written down That you can change the world by scratching the vellum, spilling the ink, jumping from one page to another That there is madness in the chaos and that madness has a seed of truth and reason in it if we I should know better than to trust awards by now Judges and critics seem to love all things pretentious Why exactly did I think this would be different It might have been the idea That there is a book of universe where all hours all that was, all that is, all that could be are written down That you can change the world by scratching the vellum, spilling the ink, jumping from one page to another That there is madness in the chaos and that madness has a seed of truth and reason in it if we only look closely enough.Well, I tried and I couldn t find any I m giving up at the end of part one and on page 267 of 602 I don t know if everything suddenly makes sense on the last page, because I don t do that I don t jump to the last page to see if a book will end the way I want it to before deciding to read it The ending isn t what matters to me, the journey in between the covers is This reads like something written by and to a schizophrenic The writing is slow, it switches between first and third person limited and has multiple points of views The protagonists change names as they change times and phases in their lives The chapters are long but the paragraphs are too short for any kind of real immersion to the story Instead beingandintrigued by the surfacing layers I found myself thrown out of the story time and time again And finally, it was just too much Reading Vellum reminded me of reading The Lord of the Rings I could see the brilliance but I was just too damn bored to fully appreciate it

  9. Althea Ann Althea Ann says:

    Might as well talk about Ink and Vellum together, since they re really one work Conveniently, Duncan describes his work himself, within the text of the book the Book has as many histories as the world itself, and it contains them all in its Moebius loop of time and space, of contradicting stories somehow fused as one confused and rambling tale, a sort of truth but full of inconsistencies and digressions, spurious interpolations and interpretations, fiction told as fact, fact told as fic Might as well talk about Ink and Vellum together, since they re really one work Conveniently, Duncan describes his work himself, within the text of the book the Book has as many histories as the world itself, and it contains them all in its Moebius loop of time and space, of contradicting stories somehow fused as one confused and rambling tale, a sort of truth but full of inconsistencies and digressions, spurious interpolations and interpretations, fiction told as fact, fact told as fiction At least, that s the goal It starts off promisingly a student seeks to steal a secret vellum manuscript the Book of All Hours a book which determines and reflects reality, which contains all possible realities a book written in the language of angels, upon the skin of angels, which contains the entirety of the time space continuum This is connected to a War in Heaven, agents of the angels that walk upon the earth, and a lot of Sumerian mythology It began by reminding me of Storm Constantine s Grigori books, and Catherynne Valente s Palimpsest Neither of those is a bad thing However, there s a problem with writing a book about a book that is supposed to contain all things, when you intend the format of your book to reflect that of your fictional book How do you edit it What should go in, and what shouldn t I would have had trouble editing this book, I have to admit And, in the end, I don t think it worked.It s obvious that Duncan wrote several reasonably coherent narratives, then chopped them up at mostly random, and mixed them together He also wrote a lot of random Other Stuff thoughts in his head that day and stuck those in too It reminded me of doing college creative writing assignments, when I sometimes pieced disparate pieces of my writing together in order to make up a page count by a deadline Yes, the reader can piece the narratives together as s he goes along, but do the inconsistencies and digressions, spurious interpolations and interpretations serve a purpose I kept hoping that they would I have to admit that my interest was waning by the end of the first book, but I read the whole second book with the hope that it would all get pulled together I don t feel that that happened.Duncan is obviously a smart guy He s very obviously well and widely educated There are a lot of interesting ideas in these books, and many of the small vignettes are expertly and beautifully written He has a nice command of the English language However, I couldn t help feeling that he might besuited to writing essays than novels I bet he s good at academic papers, too About halfway through the second book, I was thinking about why I really wasn t enjoying it, and I realized that all of the characters, no matter which reality they re currently in, whether they speak in a broadly written accent, are young or old, or even in one case female, seem like they re actually the same person Hal Duncan I kid you not, after I realized that, on the very next page, I came across this quote there s a deeper connection between them Jack, Puck, Anna, Joey, Don and himselfFinnan too, wherever he is The seven of them, seven souls, but maybe really only oneidentity Yep They re all the same person And they re too busy being archetypes, metaphors or mouthpieces most of the time, to be convincing characters.Duncan says, Let us consider reality itself as a palimpsest OK, consider that considered I even really like the idea I like a LOT of the ideas in this book But I feel that those idea would have come through better through the use of aconsistent format not even necessarily a traditional format, but just aconsistent one For example, part 3 the first half of Ink is largely taken up by the characters putting on a performance of a version of The Bacchae However, Greek drama plays little part in any of the other sections of the book It feels out of place As do many of the other spurious interpolations within the text.I feel like Duncan said, well, it s inconsistent because I want it to be inconsistent But I still prefer consistency And characters with individual identities.I often really like things that others describe, negatively, as pretentious But this is one of those rare occasions where I am feeling moved to use pretentious in a negative sense This book is pretentious

  10. Dan S Dan S says:

    Pretty much the definitive Marmite book, but if you want to your ideas of narrative stucture challenged, then this is the book for you Flexible chronological structure is cool nowadays, but Duncan flips between timelines and realities without even changing paragraphs, weaving together multiple narratives to tell ancient myths to a new audience while also telling his own, thrilling story that jumps from quiet love story to thrilling techno action adventure, often on the same page.The narrative Pretty much the definitive Marmite book, but if you want to your ideas of narrative stucture challenged, then this is the book for you Flexible chronological structure is cool nowadays, but Duncan flips between timelines and realities without even changing paragraphs, weaving together multiple narratives to tell ancient myths to a new audience while also telling his own, thrilling story that jumps from quiet love story to thrilling techno action adventure, often on the same page.The narrative structure isn t just a gimmick though Duncan raises questions about language and the nature of stories throughout the book and it s sequel, Ink, just as impressive About half the book consists of retellings or re enactments of ancient stories, showing how we constantly re use the same old ideas again and again Not an easy read by any stretch of the imagination quite apart from the textual complexity, there are some distinctly uncomfortable and graphic scenes, but if you re willing to take the time, you may just come to love it.Highly recommended

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10 thoughts on “Vellum

  1. Mara Mara says:

    This book was actually painful to read I m not entirely sure why I didn t just put it down It was like reading modern art or listening to modern music, which, if you re into it, is fine, but if you re not, you just see something meaningless or hear disharmonies, that s only art or music because someone said so Reading this, I felt like Duncan wrote bits of assorted stories on cards and then shuffled them together and called it a book Some of the bits are chronological, some of them even make This book was actually painful to read I m not entirely sure why I didn t just put it down It was like reading modern art or listening to modern music, which, if you re into it, is fine, but if you re not, you just see something meaningless or hear disharmonies, that s only art or music because someone said so Reading this, I felt like Duncan wrote bits of assorted stories on cards and then shuffled them together and called it a book Some of the bits are chronological, some of them even make sense Some involve the same characters, although it s hard to always be sure, since everyone seems to have the same name, or to change names several times But it s not a narrative There are bits, nothan a few pages each time that tell a coherent story, and the only reason I give this book even part of a star is because some of these bits are good If he d stuck with one of these ideas and fleshed it out, instead of flitting all over the place, Duncan might have had something worth reading

  2. Amanda Amanda says:

    One of my all time favorite books ever which, as I ve noticed is becoming somewhat of a trend when i adore a book, has a low rating on here I have no idea why my tastes are dissimilar to the majority of readers out there But from the dozens of crappy cookie cutter books I see on here that have near perfect ratings, for reasons that are simply beyond me , I am eternally grateful that they are I liked the sequel too, but this was leagues better

  3. Christine (AR) Christine (AR) says:

    The war in heaven and on earth and on multiple variations of earth between the old school archangels, the rebel demons and the conscientious objectors.This is an amazing book It s almost impossible to describe, but the closest I can come is that it s like a mixture of Gibson and King s The Stand and the movie Dogma if it took itself seriously with elements of Godot thrown in when the characters from the prologue keep showing up throughout the book on an endless journey through a deserted et The war in heaven and on earth and on multiple variations of earth between the old school archangels, the rebel demons and the conscientious objectors.This is an amazing book It s almost impossible to describe, but the closest I can come is that it s like a mixture of Gibson and King s The Stand and the movie Dogma if it took itself seriously with elements of Godot thrown in when the characters from the prologue keep showing up throughout the book on an endless journey through a deserted eternity of possible worlds Sidebar My theory on that storyline is that it absolutely is a shout out to Beckett, and that instead of waiting for God the characters are becoming God Anyway I can see why most of the reviewers ongive this either five stars or one, because this book is a lot of work to read The story is non linear, there are multiple viewpoints and the scenes take place in multiple time periods I was never sure if the characters were the same people being re born throughout one timeline, or if maybe all the stories were taking place simultaneously, or if maybe they weren t even the same people at all, just archetypes that needed to be re enacted forever, but honestly I don t think it really matters.In the book, Duncan describes the Cant, or the language of all life the word of God made real as something that can be read up or down or left to right or right to left or as a pictograph beginning in the center This book is the same way, in a sense If you try too hard to figure it out, you ll probably get frustrated and give up However, if you just read it and absorb it, it starts to make sense Like I said, it s a lot of work, and I admit I probably would have given up on this if it weren t one of the most beautifully written books I ve read in years Every few paragraphs I found a line I wanted to underline or read out loud to someone So in conclusion, I think Hal Duncan is a brilliant writer and that this is a brilliant book I m dying to find out what happens in the concluding volume, Ink, but I m almost too exhausted by Vellum to read it right away Highly, highly recommended

  4. Graham Graham says:

    I gave VELLUM a good go but in the end I realised it wasn t my cup of tea so I had to give it up after 100 pages I appreciate the author s intent and his unconventional approach and his breadth of intellectual understanding is frequently astounding But this is a novel lacking in the basic principles of a story narrative, characterisation, dialogue, action A bunch of expletive driven characters exist in a lawless world, and both good and evil are as uninteresting as each other The narrative I gave VELLUM a good go but in the end I realised it wasn t my cup of tea so I had to give it up after 100 pages I appreciate the author s intent and his unconventional approach and his breadth of intellectual understanding is frequently astounding But this is a novel lacking in the basic principles of a story narrative, characterisation, dialogue, action A bunch of expletive driven characters exist in a lawless world, and both good and evil are as uninteresting as each other The narrative jumps all over the place from the present to the future to the past and it s a book you have to really work at to fully understand but I just don t feel it s worth the effort I ll be careful to avoid Duncan s work in future

  5. Ell Eastwood Ell Eastwood says:

    This was me the entire time I was reading this I mean seriously, ask me anything about this book and I ll be like I don t know.Who was the main character I don t know What was the plot I don t know How did it end I don t know What is the Book of all hours I don t know Why did the author switch between three different fonts I DON T KNOW.Okay, it s my fault, torturing myself, because I could tell almost from the start I wouldn t like the book, but I kept reading because I do not leave b This was me the entire time I was reading this I mean seriously, ask me anything about this book and I ll be like I don t know.Who was the main character I don t know What was the plot I don t know How did it end I don t know What is the Book of all hours I don t know Why did the author switch between three different fonts I DON T KNOW.Okay, it s my fault, torturing myself, because I could tell almost from the start I wouldn t like the book, but I kept reading because I do not leave books unfinished DAMN YOU, ELL The narrative is just ALL over the fucking place, jumping back and forth in time ALL THE TIME and I m sure some people like that but it was just too much for me.And also, switching between three different fonts WHY Switching between first and third person NO Switching WHO THE FIRST PERSON NARRATIVE WAS WITH NO EXPLANATION NO NO NO NO OH MY FUCKING GODS.I don t know, there were gods and like fifteen different stories and they all seemed cool but not a single one of them was told, not one was concluded, and in the end I feel as if I ve read fifteen first chapters or outlines for stories that went nowhere.I don t know what the story was, I don t even know what the fucking the epilogue was about and that was the only part of the entire book where the story was told straight forward, every paragraph directly referencing the one before it and that was of course refreshing as fuck after the rest of the book, but I STILL DON T KNOW WHAT WAS GOING ON.And what the fuck is an eclogue Like shut up it s fucking redHonestly, we re at a point where I honestly cannot tell if this was written ironically or not He has my Mark I Curzon Youngblood in his hands was probably using it to form the psychic link so I take it off him, flick the safety off The chi energy flows into it and I can feel the power in my hand, that mystic orgone life force of the universe Never mind the bollocks here s the real sex pistol And you can analyze that however you want What does it even mean Is it ironic Are we playing it straight I have no idea I could write a book longer than this one about all the things I did not understand about it.No, I did not like this book I only decided to read it because the cover was orange Not falling for that one again

  6. Al& Al& says:

    What a frustrating book The words are so beautiful, the sentences are all finely crafted work but when it s all thrown together, it is a big jumble of nothing in particular It s the beginning of eight million give or take story lines and none of them seem to go anywhere I tried to stay with it, but when there s nothing to grasp onto pretty sentences and engaging imagery are not enough to carry an entire novel.

  7. NYLSpublishing NYLSpublishing says:

    I can recall my physics professor once saying to me, The beauty, Joel, is in the complexity We scientists must patiently peel away each mysterious layer to reveal a beauty hidden within A quixotic statement, I thought, to which I immediately responded with raffish undergraduate repartee that I didn t care for hidden things since their existence was, to me, evidence of a disingenuous mind He didn t respond to that just simply smiled a pregnant smile that, years later when I think of the I can recall my physics professor once saying to me, The beauty, Joel, is in the complexity We scientists must patiently peel away each mysterious layer to reveal a beauty hidden within A quixotic statement, I thought, to which I immediately responded with raffish undergraduate repartee that I didn t care for hidden things since their existence was, to me, evidence of a disingenuous mind He didn t respond to that just simply smiled a pregnant smile that, years later when I think of the exchange, causes me to lower my head in quiet embarrassment for my, then, youthful self Duncan s debut novel, Vellum The Book of All Hours, is as complex as vector physics but to lovers of fantasy will be just as rewarding In this novel, and I use the term sparingly since much of the book is in some ways reminiscent of Dante Alighieri s, Inferno, it is the year 2017 and angels and demons, called unkin, are gearing up for the final battle between good and evil a battle neither side can win There is a book, The Book of All Hours, a tome commissioned by God that holds, in God s own words, a minute by minute meditation of His plans for eternity Allegedly, when the war between Lucifer and God commenced not all angels participated in the struggle Apparently, there were some who fled to earth, taking God s blueprint for eternity with them for safe keeping Once on earth, these angels entrusted the book to the Carter family who cared for it until they lost it Enter Reynard Carter, a thief, who steals the book in 2017 from the library of the university he attends Now that the book has been found , the unkin, arethan a little interested in retrieving it since whichever side possesses the book, and its power to alter reality, will ultimately win the war That is this reviewer s understanding of it and if it sounds a bit bizarre on its surface that s because it is But, remember, all fantasy is bizarre on its surface so this is not an indictment of Duncan s work in any way Vellum The Book of All Hours, at its core is a wonderfully complex book layered in history, mythology, and an awareness of contemporary social ills Layered, but not hidden which allows Duncan s non didactic approach to the novel s political undercurrents to flow freely and naturally Poetry lovers in general and spoken word artists in particular may find such euphoniously written lines as, they ll have slave ships ferrying dead sinners to their Western Lands to toil in plantation purgatories deeply satisfying However, there is a word of caution that must be interjected here Readers looking for a quick, mindless read or something in the vein of a dumbed down, Da Vinci Codeish literary frolic should leave this book on the shelf Juxtaposed with Brown s, Da Vinci Code, Vellum will feel like taking a graduate level course without satisfying any of its pre requisites In short, you simply cannot skim this one and not come away with something that resembles Milton s, Paradise Lost set to underground Irish hip hop I suppose when all is said and done, the embarrassment I feel at the recollection of my physics class tit for tat, stems from the realization that it is the disingenuous mind that thinks in terms of hidden things My professor s pitying smile, I know now, could only have meant that The honest mind, instead, seeks the truth beneath the layers Vellum, if you ll forgive my previous hyperbole, is not as complex as vector physics There s no exaggeration in saying, however, that it could be just as rewarding Joel Glenn, Book Critic The NYLS Book Review, Ltd All Rights Reserved

  8. rameau rameau says:

    I should know better than to trust awards by now Judges and critics seem to love all things pretentious Why exactly did I think this would be different It might have been the idea That there is a book of universe where all hours all that was, all that is, all that could be are written down That you can change the world by scratching the vellum, spilling the ink, jumping from one page to another That there is madness in the chaos and that madness has a seed of truth and reason in it if we I should know better than to trust awards by now Judges and critics seem to love all things pretentious Why exactly did I think this would be different It might have been the idea That there is a book of universe where all hours all that was, all that is, all that could be are written down That you can change the world by scratching the vellum, spilling the ink, jumping from one page to another That there is madness in the chaos and that madness has a seed of truth and reason in it if we only look closely enough.Well, I tried and I couldn t find any I m giving up at the end of part one and on page 267 of 602 I don t know if everything suddenly makes sense on the last page, because I don t do that I don t jump to the last page to see if a book will end the way I want it to before deciding to read it The ending isn t what matters to me, the journey in between the covers is This reads like something written by and to a schizophrenic The writing is slow, it switches between first and third person limited and has multiple points of views The protagonists change names as they change times and phases in their lives The chapters are long but the paragraphs are too short for any kind of real immersion to the story Instead beingandintrigued by the surfacing layers I found myself thrown out of the story time and time again And finally, it was just too much Reading Vellum reminded me of reading The Lord of the Rings I could see the brilliance but I was just too damn bored to fully appreciate it

  9. Althea Ann Althea Ann says:

    Might as well talk about Ink and Vellum together, since they re really one work Conveniently, Duncan describes his work himself, within the text of the book the Book has as many histories as the world itself, and it contains them all in its Moebius loop of time and space, of contradicting stories somehow fused as one confused and rambling tale, a sort of truth but full of inconsistencies and digressions, spurious interpolations and interpretations, fiction told as fact, fact told as fic Might as well talk about Ink and Vellum together, since they re really one work Conveniently, Duncan describes his work himself, within the text of the book the Book has as many histories as the world itself, and it contains them all in its Moebius loop of time and space, of contradicting stories somehow fused as one confused and rambling tale, a sort of truth but full of inconsistencies and digressions, spurious interpolations and interpretations, fiction told as fact, fact told as fiction At least, that s the goal It starts off promisingly a student seeks to steal a secret vellum manuscript the Book of All Hours a book which determines and reflects reality, which contains all possible realities a book written in the language of angels, upon the skin of angels, which contains the entirety of the time space continuum This is connected to a War in Heaven, agents of the angels that walk upon the earth, and a lot of Sumerian mythology It began by reminding me of Storm Constantine s Grigori books, and Catherynne Valente s Palimpsest Neither of those is a bad thing However, there s a problem with writing a book about a book that is supposed to contain all things, when you intend the format of your book to reflect that of your fictional book How do you edit it What should go in, and what shouldn t I would have had trouble editing this book, I have to admit And, in the end, I don t think it worked.It s obvious that Duncan wrote several reasonably coherent narratives, then chopped them up at mostly random, and mixed them together He also wrote a lot of random Other Stuff thoughts in his head that day and stuck those in too It reminded me of doing college creative writing assignments, when I sometimes pieced disparate pieces of my writing together in order to make up a page count by a deadline Yes, the reader can piece the narratives together as s he goes along, but do the inconsistencies and digressions, spurious interpolations and interpretations serve a purpose I kept hoping that they would I have to admit that my interest was waning by the end of the first book, but I read the whole second book with the hope that it would all get pulled together I don t feel that that happened.Duncan is obviously a smart guy He s very obviously well and widely educated There are a lot of interesting ideas in these books, and many of the small vignettes are expertly and beautifully written He has a nice command of the English language However, I couldn t help feeling that he might besuited to writing essays than novels I bet he s good at academic papers, too About halfway through the second book, I was thinking about why I really wasn t enjoying it, and I realized that all of the characters, no matter which reality they re currently in, whether they speak in a broadly written accent, are young or old, or even in one case female, seem like they re actually the same person Hal Duncan I kid you not, after I realized that, on the very next page, I came across this quote there s a deeper connection between them Jack, Puck, Anna, Joey, Don and himselfFinnan too, wherever he is The seven of them, seven souls, but maybe really only oneidentity Yep They re all the same person And they re too busy being archetypes, metaphors or mouthpieces most of the time, to be convincing characters.Duncan says, Let us consider reality itself as a palimpsest OK, consider that considered I even really like the idea I like a LOT of the ideas in this book But I feel that those idea would have come through better through the use of aconsistent format not even necessarily a traditional format, but just aconsistent one For example, part 3 the first half of Ink is largely taken up by the characters putting on a performance of a version of The Bacchae However, Greek drama plays little part in any of the other sections of the book It feels out of place As do many of the other spurious interpolations within the text.I feel like Duncan said, well, it s inconsistent because I want it to be inconsistent But I still prefer consistency And characters with individual identities.I often really like things that others describe, negatively, as pretentious But this is one of those rare occasions where I am feeling moved to use pretentious in a negative sense This book is pretentious

  10. Dan S Dan S says:

    Pretty much the definitive Marmite book, but if you want to your ideas of narrative stucture challenged, then this is the book for you Flexible chronological structure is cool nowadays, but Duncan flips between timelines and realities without even changing paragraphs, weaving together multiple narratives to tell ancient myths to a new audience while also telling his own, thrilling story that jumps from quiet love story to thrilling techno action adventure, often on the same page.The narrative Pretty much the definitive Marmite book, but if you want to your ideas of narrative stucture challenged, then this is the book for you Flexible chronological structure is cool nowadays, but Duncan flips between timelines and realities without even changing paragraphs, weaving together multiple narratives to tell ancient myths to a new audience while also telling his own, thrilling story that jumps from quiet love story to thrilling techno action adventure, often on the same page.The narrative structure isn t just a gimmick though Duncan raises questions about language and the nature of stories throughout the book and it s sequel, Ink, just as impressive About half the book consists of retellings or re enactments of ancient stories, showing how we constantly re use the same old ideas again and again Not an easy read by any stretch of the imagination quite apart from the textual complexity, there are some distinctly uncomfortable and graphic scenes, but if you re willing to take the time, you may just come to love it.Highly recommended

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