I read The Angel’s Game and The Shadow of the Wind out of order, although, according to the preface to The Prisoner of Heaven, the cycle can be read in any order. After reading The Prisoner of Heaven I read The Angel’s Game again, then re-read The Prisoner of Heaven. I’ve read each of the books twice, and thus, as stated in my review of The Shadow of the Wind, am able to make comparisons between the three. I still like The Angel’s Game the most, which discom- fited me while reading The Prisoner of Heaven and caused my intercessory reading of it. The most recent book bridges the two earlier books, but in doing so it extricates the supernatural element that I find so appealing in The Angel’s Game. I see why it is necessary to graft another twisting branch to the tree that is the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, but it sapped the strength from the other limbs.
Archive for The Shadow of the Wind
Rather than concluding the year with a list of the best books of 2010 (though I, like Adso of Melk, do find lists to be wondrous instruments), I completed a lengthy survey of the best books of earlier eras. I read Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s The Shadow of the Wind (2001), An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears (1997), and The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (1980), a cycle of three books which are often cited referentially. The books dovetail nicely (as the cover art might attest), but I’m more interested in how they tied in to the close of the year. Just as I was finishing The Name of the Rose a slide show of Vatican library holdings manifested on the website of The New Yorker. Furthermore the memory of the terrible conflagration that consumed the Provo Tabernacle will remain permanently ingrained with my recollections of these books.
I have not yet had the pleasure of reading The Shadow of the Wind, the sensational antecedent to The Angel’s Game, so I am unable to use that particular yardstick to take the measure of the second book by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. Great expectations have been placed on this long-awaited follow up, and they factor into the story as well. The events of The Angel’s Game precede those of The Shadow of the Wind, so there is no harm in reading the second book first. If The Shadow of the Wind is superior to The Angel’s Game then it must be truly sublime!
Despite the sublime sounding title, The Angel’s Game is more of a danse macabre. Multiple cemeteries are revisited, including the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. Death is never far away, as the Great War looms and families are torn asunder.
David Martín is an orphan – his mother abandoned him and his father was murdered – but he is not without sponsors, Senor Sempere of the Sempere & Sons bookstore and Don Pedro Vidal, playboy and author, among them. They open the doors of literature to young Martín and he plunges headlong into the unfathomable depths. There he meets another patron, the mysterious French publisher Andreas Corelli, who holds the metaphysical key to Martín’s greatest expectations.
Corelli is the Mephistopheles to Martín’s Faust (in true reverse order I am currently reading Goethe’s Faust), and when Martín breaks his pact with the fallen angel the consequences are dire. Martín repeatedly loses Cristina, his Margaret, and is ultimately redeemed through the intervention of Isabella, the mother of Daniel Sempere, the protaganist of The Shadow of the Wind.
It may be that The Angel’s Game is overshadowed by The Shadow of the Wind, but it is beautifully written and translated nevertheless, and I certainly recommend it.