Reviews > Published on April 7th, 2016

Bookshots: 'Septimania' by Jonathan Levi

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review


Title: 

Septimania

Who Wrote It:

A book for lovers of the insanely literary form, for people who love to dream.

Jonathan Levi, author of the critically acclaimed A Guide for the Perplexed.

Plot in a Box:

This is where things get complicated for Septimania. Almost immediately. 

Small, slender Englishman Malory has a history even he doesn't know about. Yet. He's the direct descendent in a line of kings and queens of the Kingdom of Septimania, something I'm still trying to wrap my head around. Involving much of Europe and Charlemagne and...Jews...and....Arabian Nights? This kingdom is vast and utterly untethered to reality.

Malory's quest is to find his lost love Louiza...and the next heir to his (imaginary?) throne...and Sir Isaac Newton's One Theory of Everything...and an appleseed from the Tree of Knowledge.

Whew! Hard to box this one up!

Invent a New Title For This Book:

Whew! Hard to title this one up!

Malory's Thirst for Everything, perhaps?

Read This If You Like(d):

Cloud Atlas

Infinite Jest

They both have the magic, the sprawl...and the odd.

Meet the Book's Lead(s):

Malory, as I've already said, is a small, slender, quirky Englishman of no family (that he knows, at the outset of the story) and nothing tying him down anywhere but a quest for knowledge. Obsessed with Sir Isaac Newton and a young woman named Louiza, he's not exactly your prototypical hero...but he'll do. He's just likable enough, for all his nerdiness, that he'll keep your interest.

Said Lead(s) Would Be Portrayed In a Movie By:

Jesse Eisenberg, with a British accent please.

Setting: Would You Want to Live There?

Most of the story takes place in Rome...so SURE!

Favorite Quote:

That night, Malory lay with his cheek kissing the top of the seven-sided desk and slept free of dreams, surrounded as he was by nothing but.

The Verdict:

Septimania by Jonathan Levi was weird. Quirky. Bizarre. The sprawling plot and crazy suspension of disbelief (like a 24-hour-long production of Dante's Inferno, disappearing mothers and babies with no accountability, a sudden king, floating apples) feels a lot like a dream, but one of those dreams from which you wake up, not really sure of where you were or what you were doing.

That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it, though. I did. I think. I may still be trying to process it all. Because it's a lot. There's a lot of imagination in these here pages, and a lot of love and lust and math. So much math. Imaginary numbers, division by zero...some of it went way high over my head, but that's fine. I like a book that makes me think.

That said, I don't think this is a book for everyone. This is, instead, a book for lovers of the insanely literary form, for people who love to dream. If this is you, give it a shot, and tell me: what do you think of the wild cast of characters, the vast timeline, and everything else going on in this super-rich Kingdom of Septimania?

About the author

Leah Rhyne is a Jersey girl who's lived in the South so long she's lost her accent...but never her attitude. After spending most of her childhood watching movies like Star Wars, Aliens, and A Nightmare On Elm Street, and reading books like Stephen King's The Shining or It, Leah now writes horror and science-fiction. She lives with her husband, daughter, and a small menagerie of pets.

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