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I discovered ‘Endymion Spring’ by Matthew Skelton a few years back in my favourite bookstore during one of my random browsing sessions. It was a YA book, was reasonably thick – around 440 pages – and the storyline was interesting and it was set in a library in Oxford. I love books set in Oxford and in libraries. I loved ‘An Instance of the Fingerpost’ by Iain Pears, which I think is an undiscovered classic waiting for readers to show it some affection and let it reveal its beauty, and ‘The Oxford Murders’ by Guillermo Martinez, which is a mathematical murder mystery set in Oxford. So, when I saw ‘Endymion Spring’ in the bookstore, I couldn’t resist it. However, as it often happens with me, after buying the book, I put it on the shelf and it remained there, forgotten for years. I moved cities and countries, and the book moved with me, but it always remained on the shelf, unread and unloved. After reading John Banville’s ‘The Infinities’ I thought I will read a traditional story which had a beginning, a middle and an end, and I browsed my bookshelf. ‘Endymion Spring’ leapt at me and I decided that I should give it a try. I finished reading it yesterday. This is what I think about it.

 

 

What I think

 

A boy (Blake Winters) is browsing books in St.Jerome’s College Library in Oxford. He has come there with his mother and younger sister (Duck). His mother (Juliet Winters) is an American academic who has come to Oxford to do research and she has brought her children with her. The mother is having problems with her husband and they are on the verge of separation. When the boy is browsing books on the shelf, suddenly one of the books bites him! The boy picks that book and finds that the name ‘Endymion Spring’ is printed on the leather cover. Inside, the book is made of beautiful paper, but there are no words in it – the book is blank. Then suddenly, while the boy is looking at the blank pages, words start appearing on the page, giving a cryptic message. The boy later discovers that this is a book which finds its readers and puts itself into their hands. It is also supposed to lead one to ‘The Lost Book’ which contains all wisdom that there ever was and which will lead the owner to limitless power and wealth. And when such a thing is there, there are of course, villains who covet it and who will do anything to get their hands on it. The story also shifts after a while to 1453 to Mainz in Germany, where Gutenberg is trying to build a new printing press and has a printer’s devil (assistant) called Endymion Spring to assist him. One winter night a man called Johann Fust and his assistant Peter come visiting to Gutenberg’s place dragging a mysterious chest. The connection between the mysterious book in the library and the 15th century Endymion Spring and the mysterious chest, how the mysterious book came about and what is its connection to dragons, the identity of the villains and whether our hero outwits them form the rest of the story.

 

I enjoyed reading ‘Endymion Spring’ because it was set in Oxford among books and libraries. The edition I read also had big-sized font and so it was a pleasure to read. However after my honeymoon with the book got over, I found that the book had many issues with respect to plot construction, scene transition, story-telling techniques. Though the basic premise was quite interesting and the setting was wonderful, I found that at many places, the author resolved interesting events too easily. For example in one scene, the mysterious book suddenly disappears from the library and our hero Blake loses sleep over it, but then suddenly it appears again too easily without anything interesting happening – a person he knows comes and gives it to him. Come on, how easy can things get! In another place, Blake and his sister are trying to get into a library and the guard refuses to let them in. The reader waits to find out how the children are going to tackle this problem. Then someone comes behind them, says the children are there with her, and the children are let in. Come on! I felt that though the author had interesting ideas about the story and the way it should pan out, the execution was not perfect and his inexperience in storytelling showed. Maybe he needs to read ‘The Da Vinci Code’ or one of J.K.Rowling’s earlier Harry Potter books, from a writer’s perspective, and borrow some storytelling ideas from there.

 

So would I recommend ‘Endymion Spring’? I am not sure. It was a light, fast-paced read for me. I also liked the premise and the setting. But I also felt that the storytelling could have been better and more entertaining.

 

Have you read ‘Endymion Spring’? What do you think about it?

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