The Woman Who Died a Lot
And yet another one of Fforde’s creations that I thoroughly enjoyed. Having lost her ability to read herself into the Book World after the accident that almost killed her, Thursday Next is read to join the work force again. Not as head of the newly reinstated SO-27, as she had originally hoped, but as Chief Librarian of the Wessex All You Can Eat at Fatso’s Drink Not Included Library Services. My initial disappointment at the apparent lack of Book World related adventures, I was quickly mollified by the sheer awesomeness of the library world.
There is so much going on this book that my brain was never given a chance to relax for a second. A major plot line evolves around the mind worm given to Thursday by Aornis Hades, introduced in the previous instalment in the series. Since I’m usually excessively annoyed by editing mistakes and habitually starting to complain the moment I believe to have discovered one such glitch without bothering to read on, I read this passage several times before moving on and realizing how wickedly clever a device Fforde uses in this seemingly erroneous dialogues:
’I wouldn’t have Joffy’s job for anything,’ said Landen as we watched them go. […] We had a business manager and a team of lawyers, but Landen liked to read through most things so he knew what was going on. ‘Hispano-Fiat are interested in bringing Tuesday’s Micro Kinetic Battery system to the market in under six years.’ ‘I’m not surprised. Has she agreed to it?’ ‘With the usual non-military rider. Do you want some chocolate? I’ve got a bar hidden at the back of the fridge.’ ‘Go on, then.’ I got up and went through to the kitchen, where the fridge door had been left open, something that Friday tended to do these days. (page 90)
(view spoiler)[It takes several more paragraphs before it becomes quite clear to the reader that the mind worm has changed hosts, from Thursday to Landen, and later on to Tuesday. Of course, the reader is then aware of this at all times, whereas the protagonists have no idea that anything has changed at all. We also get to suspect much sooner than the family that Aornis is much closer than they expect.]
The mind worm and Aornis and the search for her whereabouts are only one aspect of this novel that is brimful with brilliant ideas and observatins.
The imminent smiting of Swindon by God who revealed himself (yes, HIMself!) as a consequence of Thursday’s brother’s successful attempt to unify religions is another prominent strand of he plot, deeply intertwined with her daughter’s endeavours in creating an Anti-Smiting Shield.
The other big plus of Global Religious Unification was collective bargaining power. Before, dialogue with the Almighty was unclear and centred around unworthiness and mumbling inside large buildings, but following unification the GSD was in a strong position to ask clear and unambiguous questions of the Almighty, such as ‘What, precisely, is the point of all this?’ Unfortunately, this angered His Mightiness as theological unity was emphatically not part of His plan, and a series of cleansings had taken place around the globe…(page 80)
The library world kicks ass and Thursday soon is in the middle of crime and stupidity once again. Phoebe Smalls who got to head SpecOps in her stead and who was introduced as a possible new nemesis or, at least, as a thorn in Thursday’s side, soon learns to rely on Thursday’s experience and expertise and also turns out to be a great asset in Thursday’s endeavours. The two of them make a great team and I hope to see more of them teaming up on the bad guys in future books.
There’s a lot on time travel again, since the disbandment of the ChronoGuard which Thursday’s son Friday would have headed in a different future plays another great role in this book. The philosophy on time travel, cause and effect theories, dimensions, the universe (why, everything!) is purely stunning and mind-bending at times. For me, that is. At one moment, it all makes perfect sense to me and at the next I’m completely baffled and don’t understand a thing. Then again, all my time-travel knowledge/philosophy is based on Back to the Future and Terminator, the theories on cause and effect of the former being perfectly logical to me, those of the latter leaving my brain in knots if I think about them too much.
I would love to add a dozen more of my favourite quotes, but I realize that they wouldn’t make much sense if taken out of context and I could never even try to explain what Fforde has done here. It’s a great novel, a more than worthy follow-up to the previous books.
Oh, and did you suspect that Karl Marx might have been Neanderthal? “He was exceptionally hairy.”