Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Book Review: _The High House_ by James Stoddard

The High House is a wonderful book of High Fantasy. It is the first novel by author James Stoddard. Plot, characterization, setting and theme blend to form a memorable piece of fantastic literature.

"The High House, Evenmere, that lifts its gabled roofs among tall hills overlooking a country of ivy and hawthorn and blackberries sweet but small as the end of a child's finger, has seldom been seen by ordinary men. Those who come there do so not by chance, and those who dwell there abide long within its dark halls, seldom venturing down the twisting road to the habitations of men." ( The High House by James Stoddard )

Thus begins this wonderful book's plot. Readers are introduced to the story of Carter Anderson and the mysterious High House, where a struggle between chaos and order occurs. The plot moves through a story from the loss of the Master Keys to an emotional and exciting climax. Along the way, we are treated to many twists and turns in the battle to defeat the Anarchists. The plot is clear and succinct. It is helped by good characters.

Mr. Stoddard has created wonderful, memorable characters. Carter Anderson, the main character, is filled with doubts and fears. He must overcome several obstacles in the book. His journey through the house brings changes in him. He is helped by several interesting secondary characters. William Hope starts as a lawyer but becomes Carter's advisor. Enoch winds the house's clocks and once talked with God. The lamp lighter Chant talks in poetic, literary quotes. Brittle is the affectionate valiant butler. These characters travel though an unusual setting.

Evenmere, the High House, is a strange and different world. The house is huge on the inside. Different nations exist within the rooms and halls of the house. These nations have doorways out into their own worlds. One of these nations is inhabited by talking tigers and Gnawlings-animals that camouflage themselves as furniture. The attic is occupied by a dragon. This setting helps develop the book's themes.

Thematic content revolves around the house. The house is like a miniature model of the universe. Masters of the House possess powers to combat the Anarchists. This keeps the universe in balance. Masters are chosen by the House like heroes called to serve their people. This book also contains a quest theme in Carter's search for the Master keys.

This book has great depth and wonderful characters. Readers of many genres would enjoy this book. Few Fantasy books published today give readers a sense of wonder. This book certainly does. I think The High House will become a Fantasy classic in years to come, joining Tolkien and many others.

Until next time, keep exploring fantasy worlds.

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