Caliban’s Hour

[openbook booknumber=”0061052043″][rating:3.5/5]

Are magic and romance really so separate? In this rich fantasy novel, Tad Williams–New York Times bestselling author of To Green Angel Tower–explores the tangled roots of sorcery and passion, and gives us an astonishing answer. Caliban is the Beast who finds in Prospero’s daughter, Miranda, the Beauty to whom he tells his incredible story–an extraordinary tale of dark desires and shining wizardry.

I’ve been on a bit of a Shakespeare kick recently and so I was surprised to stumble across this book, Caliban’s Hour by one of my favorite authors Tad Williams. It is a short novella written from the point of view of Caliban giving his history and version of events from the play The Tempest. For those familiar with his work his novels tend to be on the longish side, and so to read a book only 200 pages long was interesting to say the least. Especially since the entire book is just a single night with Caliban cornering Prospero’s daughter Miranda and pouring out his whole life story with the intent of killing her at the end, but first making her understand why.

Since your father has escaped my justice, it is you who must hear my words.”
       “Words. You keep saying…”
       “Because that was the gift your father gave to me. And the curse that ruined me as well, changed my life to wretched misery. There are hours yet before the guard comes – nay, eons. An eternity, in fact. This is my time, Miranda. Now you will have your words back: before I kill you, you will hear my tale… and you will know what you have done.”

It was fascinating to read about Caliban’s past as a child growing up with a mute mother on an abandoned island seamlessly woven into his story within the confines of the play. Even that though was redone from this new point of view. Caliban is not nearly as sinister as he would be portrayed and how could he be when before Prospero and Miranda had arrived he had never seen another human being aside from his mother and couldn’t even speak? The new explanation of what really happened at that island was a very interesting reinterpretation of the tale.

I do think that if you have not read or seen The Tempest then this book might be a little confusing especially towards the end. As the play nears its climax the slow and methodical pace of the book speeds up incredibly to the point where the things that happened seemed too fantastical to be believed. It robbed the point of view of some of its credibility.

The book’s ending though, which takes place years after the close of the play, was very well done and that saved this book for me. A note on the cover though, disregard it completely. It is not what it looks like at all and I’m sure some fans of Shakespeare and fantasy were scared away from what is really a fantastic book. The publisher did this book a great disservice by slapping a trashy romance novel cover on this book. If it wasn’t for the familiar name (and I actually did wonder if it was the Tad Williams and had to check myself) I would not have bothered to pick up this book at all. I’m glad I did though.

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