Friday, June 12, 2015

The Devil in a Forest by Gene Wolfe

I was up too late last night with this page turner about an apprentice and a suave highwayman.
"You see, the hag really can do things, but if you wanted to do them too, you'd have to be the way she is--not just bad part of the time but bad all the time. I've never been able to make the effort myself; I've cut a lot of throats, but every once in a while my sense of fun comes creeping in."

"If she really can"--Mark saw vistas of limitless power--"why doesn't she take charge of everything? If I were her--"

"You'd live in a crystal castle on a golden hill with fifty princesses to wait on you."

"I suppose so."

"But she wouldn't. She'd feed the princesses to the pigs, then paint the pigs with poison. Then she'd smash your castle and sink the hill in a swamp. You see, she has taken over everything she could. You don't see it because what she took over she destroyed. She was mistress of a manor farm once, with hired shepherds and drovers to care for her stock."

Whether that is a fair description of Mother Cloot or not I'll leave to you.

As someone else said of Wolfe's work, everybody has a reason for everything they do in the story.

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