“There can be no covenants between men and lions, wolves and lambs can never be of one mind, but hate each other out and out and through. Therefore there can be no understanding between you and me, nor may there be any covenants between us, till one or other shall fall.”

The Venerable Homer

By the Muses and their arts, for whose favour I have so often prayed, I swear that, in making this avowal in writing, I have neither desire to praise myself nor to divide from your work.

What happiness could I benefit from eradicating you from my library? In what could I take more contentment than your work? Your words which even now resound deep within my soul as the drums of glory did for your Akhilleus. May it never be my misfortune to forget your opening line:

“Sing, O muse, of the rage of Akhilleus, son of Peleus, that brought countless ills upon the Achaeans.”

For then, what memory would be left for me?

Your great words, for great they truly are, are seared within my heart with the word CHILDHOOD. By the twelve great gods, I could not even consider forgetting my youth, a time seeming now so far and remote from me; that rosy time of innocence during which my grandfather sang your war-song to my young, eager mind and heart. I could not even dream of any story more passionate, more glorious. I could not even dream of leaving your kingdom of wrath and pride to wander alone in the middle of Northeastern American suburbia, in a peaceful street…in a barren desert, for so it would seem compared to your world.

I swear it again and again by those Muses whose favour you and I so often courted: that without your Iliad, my childhood world would be all the greyer, all the less filled with ancient wonder.


nota bene: This note has been written in the pastiche of an Ancient Greek love letter. The author apologizes for her own ridiculousness.

The Curse of Knowledge


Madeleine Cassier
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51sT1gF5PTL.jpgIn our most recent episode of The Book Table (TBT), we discussed Stormdancer, the first novel in the Lotus War trilogy by Australian writer, Jay Kristoff. Marketed as a Japanese-inspired steampunk series featuring what Patrick Rothfuss called “a strong female protagonist” in his blurb, it elicited some very different reactions amongst our discussion participants.

In our online book club, many people specifically picked upon Kristoff’s use of Japanese language and culture, calling it anything from “random” and “uneven” to “frustratingly wrong” and a little bit rage-inducing. The appropriation that formed the foundation of this book drove those familiar with Japanese culture and language to feelings of annoyance and irritation. A few members of our book club didn’t even finish Stormdancer, and a few more said they were unlikely to pick up the sequels.

For my part, I rated the book a solid 4 out of 5 stars and said that, despite acknowledging problems, I enjoyed it. I made a point in the podcast of saying that I had read the entire trilogy back in April 2015 over the course of about a week, so many of the details of all three books often blurred together in my remembering. Though, probably most importantly, I also mentioned that Japanese history and culture are not my forte. My knowledge-base on that topic comes predominantly from media, so I shall never claim myself an expert…ever.

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