Rainer Neumann,
Labyrinth: A Mythic Journey
(eBookstand, 2001)

"To the reader: You'll find this a confusing and frustrating work." Thank you, Mr. Neumann, for saying it, so I didn't have to! The introduction goes on to explain why, while this may be true, the book is still worth reading. This would be where the author and I differ in opinion.

It looks like a good book, and I bet it sounded really good in his imagination. The concept is cool; there are several characters whose stories are happening concurrently with one another. The telling can be picked up, or dropped at any point, to relate for a while the adventures of another character. At the end of the book, the connections between all of the characters are supposed to become clear. This theory assumes you, the reader, will make it to the end. I didn't.

In fact, I began to look at reading this book as a trial to be endured, and though I tried, I just couldn't force myself to do it. Days would stretch between my energetic reading sessions, which sometimes could be sustained for as long as fifteen minutes!

Because it is my duty as a reviewer, I will attempt to relate what storyline I was able to glean from the murky confusion of text.

There are the separated-at-birth twins, Twangly and Twing, who are royalty, though Twing only finds this out in his early 20s, having been adopted out to an American family as a baby, for no reason I can discern. Since Twangly takes off to explore the rest of Europe and no one can find him to visit his father on his deathbed, the return of the lost son seems to be a great comfort to his mother.

Look, I'm sorry, this is the material I have to work with, OK?

Then there's Nicholas, who I think is supposed to be the reincarnation of a medieval servant-turned-knight, who's traveling in the company of recklessly driving senior citizens, and a sexy fellow hitchhiker, who refuses to tell her true name.

Meanwhile, in Amsterdam, Twangly is setting up a satellite connection between clubs and coffeehouses worldwide, for the purpose of sharing live entertainment. Sort of the way you can receive transmission at any time from a radio station, but this operates through television. Even though he develops this idea during a hallucination (not drug-induced) starring a woman on an advertising poster, it still was the most interesting concept explored, I thought.

Then there's a lot of driving, and some visiting of local pubs, and Twing is searching for Twangly, and honestly, I've lost interest again. "Confusing and frustrating" doesn't begin to cover it.

[ by Katie Knapp ]
Rambles: 13 April 2002