Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Greenstone Grail

Science fiction meets fantasy in this remarkable book by Amanda Hemingway. At first glance, with its picture of the grail and the words “The Sangreal Trilogy” on the cover, it looks like just another grail book. But The Greenstone Grail is anything but that. This grail has little to do with King Arthur or the Holy Grail, although it does appear that certain themes, such as sacrifice and betrayal, resonate with truth across multiple universes.

Nathan Ward has a happy childhood, growing up blissfully unaware of the unusual circumstances surrounding his conception. All that changes, however, when he finds the ruins of an old chapel and has a vision of a grail full of blood. Soon after that Nathan begins visiting a futuristic city in his dreams. He soon discovers that the city is more than a dream; Nathan is actually crossing the multiverse in his dreams to a real city in another universe,: a universe in trouble. When an ancient grail with historical connections to his town surfaces, Nathan begins to suspect that the grail is an object of power in both universes. Nathan isn’t the only one with an interest in the grail, however; an interesting assortment of people from multiple universes are trying to get their hands on it. And some will kill to obtain it.

Amanda Hemingway deftly blends science with magic, particle physics with folklore, in this compelling story that spans multiple universes. The Greenstone Grail reminded me a bit of the early books in Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising series, not so much because of the grail connection as because it has that same sense of greater forces at work dimly understood by ordinary humans. It’s a compelling book with a fascinating cast of characters.

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