Coeur de Lion Publishing (2012)
ISBN: 978 0987 158 734 (e-book)
Reviewed by Jason Nahrung
Dated on the day of the author’s death, this work is unabashed in its address to the reader: life after death, take it as read, in whichever way you wish. For this tome, purportedly by Cyrano de Bergerac, famed duellist, satirist and free thinker of the early 1600s, is the third book – until now, merely dreamed about – of Cyrano’s science fiction trilogy, of which the first two volumes were published shortly after this death.
It begins with a kidnap of fair Roxane by a foe best described as a billiard table. There are houses made of birds. People with lanterns for heads, whose speech is illuminated upon their face most eloquently. Language, improbability, a Sun King made God, tongue in cheek and turn of phrase, death, all have their place in this remarkable journey, and some are less challenging than others.
‘It is not real in every respect except that it is,’ says one character of one remarkable machine, a carriage made of summer sky by a ‘race of impossibilitysmiths’.
Which might also aptly describe this fantastical quest to free and wed the maid, with nose in front and sword at side, and the renowned gift of the gab making it all rather … interesting. You might like to keep a dictionary handy, real or imagined, or simply go with the flow.
After adventures on and between numerous wondrous worlds, including a voyage on the Sea of Time in which Cyrano meets his own daughter, and causes some future, or is it past, eddies for himself, the climax was a little anti-climactic. The denouement, however, was sufficiently denoue’d, and the journey – illustrated here and there by the translator’s own illustrations (more! more!) – thoroughly engaging, thanks to Cyrano’s voice and the sheer outlandishness, er, magnificence of the worlds encountered.
One can’t help feeling Cyrano’s translator, Mr Adam Browne, has done him proud, retaining the author’s vision, verbosity and personality. Bravo, or perhaps more accurately, touché?