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A ROSARY OF STONES AND THORNS

Fantasy to Care About

By jinxtigr, author of Force of Fate

Aug 13, 2011: A Rosary of Stones and Thorns is what Tolkien might have written, if he’d said "heck with elves and dwarves- I’ll write about good and evil, angels and devils directly- but wait, what if the bad guys had their reasons?"

This is the striking thing that’s caused this work to find its audience on the web- it is an exploration of Christian theology, indeed a deconstruction and reassembly of it, radical enough to qualify as fantasy. Just as we have dreams of what elves would be, we have fantasies of what angels would be, and fallen angels, and so on. The foundation for this work is extraordinarily strong, but the subversion of it caused print publishers to balk, unable to work out what market it could be sold to. In this way, it was too radical to print.

And yet, it’s not a cynical deconstruction. It’s something more wonderful than that- a reinvention on very logical lines that explains puzzling things about the Christian mythos. And, rather than get cheap thrills out of fallen angels in shades and Rolexes, its deconstruction remains true to fundamental values of religious faith. God is not a trickster here- God is rather hard to understand. The good and bad angels are not simply reversed, but follow deep, consistent motivations that set up the tension of the narrative. They’re very human, but in the best way- complicated, passionate, making sense of their worlds each in their own ways and defending that sense against challenges.

Much like the works of Arthur C. Clarke, there are no villains here- but unlike most Clarke, the narrative immediately begins with wrenching emotional conflict and an injustice that must be resolved, dangling problems that expand outward until the scope of the story’s conflict is literally the grandest conflict that exists in Christianity- and every indication is that a few seemingly ordinary people will be central to finding a healing solution to this terrible rift.

This is a spectacular work, able to draw on all Hogarth’s strengths in a framework people are already familiar with. There’s a musical phrase, ‘in the pocket’, describing a performance that’s so unselfconsciously natural and confident that it’s beyond criticism- even if the style isn’t your cup of tea, you can recognize the integrity of the performance and probably appreciate it no matter who you are. Rosary is in that pocket- it applies the properness and concern with motivations from her alien manners pieces, the human-ness of her Spots the Space Marine writing, into a work where all these qualities seem completely appropriate and fitting.

This is what webfiction is about- providing a venue for original, heartfelt work that cannot be marketed in the usual way. Strongly recommended, to anyone: no matter what your tastes are, you may be able to relate to this one.

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