In the valley of the kings - by Terrence Holt
Posted on December 20th, 2014
In this book composed of multiple short stories, Terrence Holt brings us to both the past and the future around self-discovery and death. Each story is independent and can be read in any order although it gets a little repetitive if reading from start to end in a day.
Here are notes on each story:
Description of an epidemic disease related to seeing a word. This word being of any form and shape but affecting all humans that see it drawing them to madness followed by death and visibile by bruises all over their bodies and more proeminantely in the forehead.
Turns out that this fictional story is all about the power of the mind over the body and the power of words of the mind. Written from the viewpoint of a character that is not affected by the epidemic but studies it. Fairly well written with a good rhythm.
My father's heart:
Again, written from the view point of a character. In this case, the protagonist owns its father's heart in a jar that stays at home with him. The narratve being around how the object causes violent sentimental reactions to the narrator.
A fairly obvious metaphor about taking care of older relatives that have no autonomy or even concious of their state. The pain and anger coming from not being able to really help but still wanting to care and maintain around. It takes a little while during the story to understand this is the case but once the reader gets it, the subject becomes a lot less interessant and intriguing.
As for all previous stories, this is narrated by the protagonist which turns out to be an astronaut adrift in a powerless spaceship en route to jupiter. The two companions of the protagonist having commited suicide previously and a "mission control" group back in earth trying to keep the narrator alive but without much hope.
A lot of wandering in various delusions and dreams. Some sort of a mystery surrounding a dream which turns out to be a memory of the event that drove the ship to its present state. Too much wandering and not enough substance for the story. Gets fairly boring pretty quickly.
This time the narrator is trying to understand who he is, what is driving it and how it turned out to be how it is. A lot of delays to advance the narrative. Many repetitions as the narrator loses memory about the events and has to remember from scratch. Gets very boring and the discovery doesn't fulfill the expectation created around it. Vocabulary used is also very out of context and doesnt build over itself.
First person again. Yet another self discovery story. This time it seems the narrator is an undead ressucitated by a "religious" project. Writing style is a little more dynamic and, therefore, less boring but the overall reported confusion makes it so that there is a lot of going in circles of self discovery. The themes for the author are very repetitive and so is the style.
In the valley of the kings:
This is likely the best writing in the book. This time, the narrator is an archeologist in search of a nameless egyptian King. With some clear delusions in both the events and the descriptions, this tale finally has more plot and mistery than the others. Through the nearly 80 pages of narrative, we follow a middle age researcher that made a hidden discovery of an old egyptian bottle indicating the existance of a nameless power which we discover afterwards had always been the researcher's obsession. The rest of the story brings the reader to the researcher's journey to find the tomb of this great nameless king and through his own madness and crimes. A fair amount of unsolved misteries leaves the reader the chance to create its own answers while still providing a thought direction.
This time a ship captain loses his ship misteriously due to "the Law". The short story told by the captain presents how his life evolves without his ship, crew and old life. All is attributed to the Law without ever knowing what is it. The only story that has a good perspective shown at the end instead of the dreadful perspective in all others.
The narrative now follows a character who seems to live in a world where hope is dead. Living with his wife next to a place where "accidents" happen frequently and cars drive off the road, they keep living in this world where most material goods seem to have lost value and people have mostly lost hope even though we never discover why. Slightly more structured text and less delusions although the main character keeps fighting his internal wish to give up and let himself go.
OVERALL In the valley of the kings:
Starts well with Aoyos but quickly gets tiring with the following overly mad/delusional/plot-less stories. In those, the author tries too hard to present an "artistic" and "enigmatic" perspective. The style and inflexibility of view points also limits the quality of the stories told. Little attention to descriptions and a heavy focus on human rationale and train of thoughts mainly towards some way of madness.
The story that gives name to the book presents a refreshing read with a structured plot leading the reader into a journey to Egypt and mysteries. The following two short stories give a good end to the book with a "happy" end and a sincere love that holds against the lost of all hope.