(Tales from the Flat Earth #1)
by Tanith Lee (1978)
Read as the May pick for Sword & Laser Podcast.
Written in the manner of The One Thousand and One Nights, this is a series of loosely linked short stories.
The setting is long time ago when the Earth was Flat, beautiful indifferent Gods lived in the airy Upperearth realm above, curious passionate demons lived in the exotic Underearth realm below, and mortals were relegated to exist in the middle.
Azhrarn, Lord of the Demons and the Darkness, was the one who rules the Night. Many mortal lives were changed because of his cruel whimsy. And yet, held inside his demon heart a profound mystery which would change the very fabric of the Flat Earth forever…
The first impression is an absolute mastery of english prose. It’s rich and evocative. The only author close to this style would be Mervyn Peake in his Gormanghast trilogy.
It indulges and tempts the reader to slow down and savor each word and sentence. Withing a paragraph there is more than most authors would write in a chapter and hence the pacing moves like lightening.
This prose style suits the mythological style of the stories. It could easily come from scripture.
This is the first Tanith Lee book I have read, and it is not clear if she uses this style consistently through her 90 novels and 300+ short stories. I can’t wait to find out.