Monday, August 22, 2005


I just finished The nonexistent Knight & The Cloven Viscount by Italo Calvino, and I am very impressed. I'd never actually heard of Calvino before, but I stumbled across this book at a book sale, and since it was only $1, I bought it. Now I feel like one of those people who by an old painting in a junk store for a few bucks and later on find out it's worth thousands of dollars.

Before I get any farther I'd like to point out that these stories were originally written in Italian, and this edition is translated. I can't say with absolute certainty how much of my enjoyment comes from Calvino and how much comes from the translator. I'm going to assume that most (if not all) of it comes from Calvino.

This book contains two fantasy novellas. The first is "The nonexistent Knight," the story of an animated suit of armor called Sir Agilulf. He is a paladin in Charlemagne's army, who gained the knighthood by rescuing a noble virgin from rape. Another knight claims that the noblewoman was not a virgin and therefore Sir Agilulf is not a knight. So, Sir Agilulf goes off to search for the woman.

"The Cloven Viscount" is the story of a viscount who is bisected by a cannonball during a war. Only his right half returns home, but that half is evil. He sets about being wicked and eventually falls in love. Soon his other (good) half returns and falls in love with the same girl. Eventually, they fight it out.

Both stories were exciting and humorous. I found all the characters to be interesting and well fleshed out. My favorite character had to be Sir Agilulf's squire Gurduloo, who seemed to be either a lunatic or a nature spirit. I also found it interesting that Calvino made the viscount's left half the good half, when the left is usually viewed as sinister; it makes me wonder if Calvino was left handed.

Anyway, I definitely recommend this book. It gets 5 yo-yos.

Up next, I'll be reading Brian Lumley's Vamphyri!. If anyone has any suggestions on what I should read next (see previous post), please leave a comment. In fact, if anyone is reading this, please leave a comment.

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