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Corbenic (2006)

Corbenic (2006)

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3.47 of 5 Votes: 2
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0060724706 (ISBN13: 9780060724702)
greenwillow books

About book Corbenic (2006)

This is a modern re-telling of The Fisher King, and Parsifal. Cal, running away from his drunken schizophrenic mother, is on his way to his uncle's house where his uncle has grudgingly offered him a trial job in his accountancy firm, and he gets to take a course at the university one day a week, as well as a place to stay. But he gets off the train at the wrong stop, in the dark and fog, and finds himself at Corbenic, but there is nothing there. He decides to wait for a later train, but realizes that one may not be coming until morning and it's cold and drizzling. So he makes his way up and overgrown path, brushing his way past brambles, until he hears voices and sees a light. It is two fishermen on a river, one of whom directs him to a hotel up the road, and tells him to say that he sent him. So Cal forces his way up the path, and finds a broken down sign for the inn/castle, and goes inside. Inside, there is light, warmth, and it's beautiful to him. Someone greets him, and leads him upstairs to a wonderful bedchamber, and tells him there is no charge, since he is their guest. Cautious, but low on funds, he decides to stay. The bell rings for supper, and from out of the rooms around him come men and women dressed in fabulous evening clothes, on their way to a banquet. Once there, he is told that the Fisher King wants him to sit at the head table. Feeling decidedly out of place in his cheap new clothes, he goes to the table, where he finds "Bron," the Fisher King, is one of the fishermen he met earlier in the boat. He eats course after course of delicious food, and as the banquet progresses, suddenly the others fade out, and from a door behind the table he is seated at, comes a procession: a boy carrying a spear that bleeds from the tip, then two more boys carrying candlesticks, and finally, as a cold wind blows through him, and pain comes agonizingly, just as his mother has described her visions, comes a blonde girl in a green gown, carrying a large jeweled, but dented old cup. A light shines from the Grail cup, and then the procession moves on into a doorway that wasn't there before, and afterwards disappears. The Fisher King asks him to say what he saw, to ask him what it means, but Cal, afraid that he is becoming a victim to the same mental disease of his mother, and scared by what he has seen, says he saw nothing. The Fisher King bows from pain, and Cal, unsure of himself now, quickly leaves for bed, with the Fisher King saying it will be a long journey. When he awakens the next morning, the castle is not the same. It is an old ruin, and gone are the people, the beautiful wall hangings, etc. It is an open ruin, with leaves, and mold and vegetation creeping in. Stuck into the moldy pillow is a beautiful sword, with a note that tells him it will serve Cal as he has served the Fisher King. He stumbles out of the castle, and hacks his way through the clinging vines and finds himself not far from a village, where he finds his way to his uncle, and tries to forget about Corbenic. But he can't forget, and he falls in with a group of motley re-enactors, who call themselves Arthur's men, but speak as if they really are them. He decides, after trying to rid himself of the sword several times, to try and learn how to use it. But he is torn between the nice, upscale life he has wanted, and the desire to set things right. And the legend plays out. Once again, Ms. Fisher outdoes herself in the telling of a legend. She is masterful at imagery and at feelings, delineating characters with swift loving strokes of words, and by their actions, shows them to be who they truly are. No one is perfect - all have flaws that they must work to overcome. But Cal must follow his path, until he figures out what Corbenic means, and come to pace with his past.

First book with a great concept that bored the hell out of me since that ancient Egypt mystery novel. =/ The cover grabbed me and made me take a few steps back to get it as I almost passed it by in the library. But the story went so slow and even the magical elements were somehow so blah.The main character was so dense and unlikeable! The only thing I got out of the book was feeling his pain... which got him some sympathy, but he took so long to fix himself, and even when he did, it was more like he was stumbling into it or doing it for selfish reasons. His utter self-centeredness was almost fascinatingly foreign to me, but made me feel icky.I started to enjoy the wounded healer archetypal stuff, but everything bogged down somewhere and I was kind of forcing myself to finish the book.I wanted to like it. Arthurian stuff usually rocks. Maybe if the Arthurian apsects hadn't been so superfluous to the story of Cal's healing. It could have taken place in any setting. Which is always disappointing when the setting is supposed to be a major aspect.

Do You like book Corbenic (2006)?

Beautifully written, tender and heartbreaking this is a reworking of the Grail myth through the life of a lost boy running from the hell of his life caring for his alcoholic schizophrenic mother. Cal leaves his mother to live with and work for his uncle but he gets off the train at the wrong stop, a station called Corbenic. In the rain and oncoming storm he stumbles upon a beautiful luxurious country hotel and is treated like a king, but when he denies the evidence of his own senses he sets in motion events which take him on a painful journey of self discovery and atonement. A book I hated to finish and that had me wanting to read the source texts.
—Jo Bennie

I don't think there are many books that rework the Grail story into a modern setting. At least, I don't remember reading any. Fisher's take simply moves the action to the present day, leaving many aspects of the Grail legend intact. The largest part of the book revolves around main character Cal denying the call to the Grail quest, and to his alcoholic mother. Here's the thing: I really disliked Cal from the first chapter onwards. He's shallow, self-absorbed, tactless, and cold. I get why he's written that way. The sort of person who would turn away from the Grail isn't going to have a warm personality. And his background could logically lead to a person like he's become. But that doesn't make him any more likeable. It's to Fisher's credit that I actually finished the book, instead of ditching it after a few chapters of Cal. I think this is the first thing that I've ever read by Fisher. She's definitely a talented writer. It looks like she knows the legends she's drawing on quite well, and understands them. Her characters are, if not likeable, at least fully developed and realistic. She isn't afraid to introduce ambiguity into her narrative. But I just couldn't get attached enough to Cal to really care what happens to him. This is one of those books that's written well enough, but simply isn't for me.

I really loved this book. Cal struggles so hard, but always makes the wrong choice. But you feel sorry for him and know if you were in his position, you'd have done the same. He can't help it, he has had so much pain and is just trying to avoid more, and he truly suffers for it. This is a book that questions what most books take for granted: the hero's right to participate in a story. Cal has a story he's meant to be in, a destiny to fulfill, only he doesn't want to. Is it fair to punish him for that?

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