Saturday, 23 April 2011

Prologue - The Demi-Monde: 37th Day of Winter, 1004 - Revisited

*** SPOILERS: You'll need to select some text to see it (this appears as dark grey bars, selecting it will show the hidden words). Don't want to spoil all the surprises, just in case any newcomers to the book happen by ***

I'm surprised no-one's coined the phrase before, but I've been on a "Read Trip" and gone somewhere novel to thumb through the prologue to The Demi-Monde: Winter. Nipped up to The Old Mill with Little Lord Woolsey and grabbed a bit of nosh while I was at it.

I had the paté while Woolsey opted for the Full English Breakfast

That's right! I have finally started re-reading The Demi-Monde: Winter and I have to say, I'm pleasantly surprised. I'm not a big re-reader, once is usually enough for me, but further investigation prompted another stab at The Demi-Monde. That said, I'm already finding it hugely enjoyable. Much more than the first time round.

One of the reasons I'd decided to re-read the Demi-Monde was that, having read the reviews on Amazon, I'd begun to see the book very differently, each review picked up on different aspects. Almost as though everyone who'd reviewed it, had read a different book.

Winnie the Pooh as he might look trying to distinguish plot points from scene setting

This time round I knew what was key to the plot and what was scene-setting so, to a bear of very little brain like myself, I wasn't flustered by the names of the different factions or unseen characters and the whole chase sequence unfolded at a cracking pace. I was never one of those who found the UnUsual use of CapItaliZation to be a problem (was more irritated by newspeak in 1984), but I would say that I didn't get the sense of massively overpopulated streets that I remembered from the first reading.

It's funny what you get used to, though. No one I've read has mentioned the whole ABBA thing, and it did take me a while to get the whole swedish pop group thing out of my head. Now I just have this silhouette of a naked woman dancing in flames, like the beginning of "Tales of the Unexpected". I'm not entirely sure why actually, but I'm sure it will come back to me.

Opening Titles of Tales of the Unexpected - Theme by Ron Grainer

Something I do remember clearly, though, are the Hounders. I was more than a little disappointed that they didn't make another appearance, to be honest. I thought they were a great idea - a kind of Nazi genetic experiment, suggesting that there would be more "monsters", but the book settles down to be more of a historical adventure story. Reminds me a bit of Sven Hassel crossed with Alexandre Dumas (whose son also wrote a play called "Le Demi-monde"!), a dash of Issac Asimov and all wrapped up in Raymond Chandler.

Actually the Raymond Chandler aspect is something that I think some folk are missing out on. The rich vein of humour in the Demi-Monde is chandler-esque, which is to say: dry and dark. It's not Wodehouse (try Douglas Adams for SF in the Wodehouse style) or, god forbid, Pratchett (don't get me started) it's hard and cold and resentful of the softer emotions which it eeks out on ration - but that's the nature of the virtual world of the Demi-monde. It's also the nature of Ella Thomas, student of the school of hard knocks, but more of her later.

So. I'm getting all this and the internal monologue and seeing this chase like a scene from The Third Man with a Philip Marlowe-style female voice-over. No real colour except the red of the blood. And when Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins and Archie Clements turn up talking about Aleister Crowley with a pack of deformed man-dogs... for me, that's a perfect start to a book.


  1. Unfortunately, Your Grace, the Hounders will not make another appearance until the final book in the series, 'The Demi-Monde:Fall' when they will be used to hunt down ...

    But that's another story.

  2. That's cool. Was beginning to think that's the last we see (read?) of them.