Fantastica Daily Review of Hecate’s Glory

This review originally appeared in the now defunct Fantastica Daily on January 10, 2003. It is posted here by kind permission of Eva Wojcik-Obert.


Hecate’s Glory by Karen Michalson
Reviewed by Eva Wojcik-Obert

“You see, destroying an artist is no different than destroying a poem. Killing a poet is literary criticism performed in a physical space. Murder is the ultimate commentary. And I’d been trained for years in commentary.

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” — it was a very bad risk to love music beyond sense and wisdom. Hell, it’s a very bad risk to love art. Fall in love with art and there’s no telling where you’ll end up.”

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“Come on, Lew, use common sense. An artist is his work. Therefore, an artist is his illusion, because all art is fantasy, is illusion.”

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Here’s a little something for Enemy Glory fans who’ve been wondering whatever happened to Karen Michalson’s luckless Llewelyn. Hecate’s Glory will fill you in on the whole gory, blasting, twisted, dark deal that Michalson’s devilish imagination has rendered in ink — maybe it was blood. If you like your fantasy dark, depressing, and a little disturbing then Hecate’s Glory won’t disappoint. Hey, there’s even an ill-tempered storm dragon in this world of evil clerics and not so good “good” wizards. Everyone’s got issues in Hecate’s Glory — and none of them are healthy! Hecate’s Glory is one of those books where it becomes clear pretty quickly that no one and nothing is ever quite what it seems. After blasting enough institutions crisply enough to warrant notice from those folks who dish out the Prometheus Awards, Karen Michalson turns her writing wizard wand to incinerating the literary world and its workings. The Bardic tradition and its descent into the dubious nature of the printed book are at the self-destructive psychological core of Hecate’s Glory. Our bad boy Llewelyn just cannot resist a good tale well sung. He’s as hopelessly addicted to Ellisand’s poetic and musical crafts as the half elf bard is to smoking dope. It’s a little like the relationship between fans and rock stars — complete with hotel/inn wrecking, groupie girls, and carte blanche for bad behavior.

In other words, Llewelyn’s love of beauty and art just takes the legs out from under him even when he’s finally becoming as bad as he wants to be. How Hecate doesn’t see through to his maladjusted core and reject him from the get-go might be a mystery in any other tome. But not in Hecate’s Glory. Oh no, here it is perfectly in keeping with context that an evil goddess would accept a cleric flawed at the core with a penchant for positive action — even if it’s not intended to be positive. What better way to inflict torture, pain, and evil than on such a mind? Make no mistakes about such thinking — take note that one of Lew’s jobs is to turn the evil El to good as entertainment for the conquering Roguehan. Convoluted you say? Well, hey, turn on the news, read the paper, browse the net for current affairs, and see how much of that denies logic on the surface. Take heart, Lew is really good at back stabbing — literally! He’s always up front about where he aims his knives.

So take Hecate’s Glory with an eye to perusing the evil that men, and women, do in the name of evil and good. Decide for yourself what is the role of Art, of all types, in the affairs of humankind. Are critics anything more than would-be artists frustrated at their lack of ability and taking it out on the art they find flawed? What does it require to play the fame game? Is attitude all it takes to make it in the world? Is it? If so, then does Art have the ability to redeem or just amuse, entertain, and distract?

“Anybody who believes hard work and talent is always rewarded isn’t paying attention.”

 So goes Michalson’s biting commentary via her art in Hecate’s Glory. Frankly, I’m wondering how many mediocre, pulp churning, New York Times List-making successful writers could meet Michalson’s well-crafted writing quality, or even read well enough to clue into her devastating deconstruction of the literary world. Somehow I doubt she’s in danger of a public stoning. More’s the pity, because she’s clearly attempting to murder the whole publishing/literary scene — or at least give it a harsh blast upside the head to get somebody to wake up. To those who “get it,” what can I say besides, enjoy the crime as it unfolds — psychological slaughter though it may be. Remember, “…all art is fantasy, is illusion.”