The Daily Monocle

Critical book reviews from a literary skeptic.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Drive-By Review: The Singer by Calvin Miller + An Announcement

Posted by J. P. Wickwire

Announcements first: from now on, I'm going to try and update The Daily Monocle on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday each week. There won't always be three full-length reviews, but I'm hoping that on Monday there will be a short review, on Wednesday there will be links to cool literary stuff, and on Friday I'll have something earthshattering that makes you rush to the nearest bookstore. Okay? Cool.

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For a while now, it seems that my only interest has been in historical fiction, light fantasy/supernatural, or some combination thereof. I can feel my tastes beginning to drift; in a few weeks, this blog will be cluttered with science-fiction reviews.

But before I switch gears, I plucked The Singer from my to-be-read pile, and settled down for what I thought would be an epic fantasy poem.

I wasn't entirely wrong. The Singer by Calvin Miller is written in the tradition of Tolkien or Lewis. Each stanza is oddly rhythmic, though the words themselves only have cadence about half the time. (The other half of the time, they either lacked the elusive element of poetry, or I thought the word choice was off). And it wasn't really sword-and-sorcery style fantasy either. There was no great quest, no evil wizards… but there was a very Tolkien-esque world developed around the characters.

I was surprised to find that The Singer is an allegory of the life of Christ. The Singer himself, son of the Earthmaker, has been charged to sing the last verse of The Song, which will result in his death. And so he travels throughout the land as a sort of minstrel or troubadour, sharing pieces of The Song and telling people about the Earthmaker. On his journey he heals a crippled child, teaches a fallen woman the difference between love and lust, and frees a 'madman'—all while fighting off evil. If you know the story of Christ, you know how the story ends.

Predictability aside, The Singer had some quotable quotes and some memorable moments. It's one of those books that likes to sit in the recesses of your memory, quietly posing questions during your everyday activities.

Although it isn't groundbreaking fantasy fiction, or earth-shattering Christian fiction, Calvin Miller's The Singer was a nice little tale. And, even though I probably won't pursue its sequels, I don't regret picking it up and reading it on a rainy day.

Buy it/read an excerpt on Amazon
Author's Website

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