The Earth a Machine to Speak Yankee Republic Book 5 by Fenton Wood Book Review
The Earth a Machine to Speak [Amazon link] by Fenton Wood is a satisfying conclusion to Philo’s adventures. That is no mean feat. The series has an ending, and that ending left me feeling that Philo had been done justice in fictional form.
I think it is fair to say that Philo’s story recapitulates the Hero’s Journey. Unfortunately, the popularity of this mode of storytelling does not match the skill with which it is deployed. Hardly anyone knows what to do with a character who has completed it. These days, about the best thing you can hope for is a swift death.
Which is almost right. The natural end of the narrative structure of a human life really is death.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. –2 Tim 4:7
Call no man happy until he is dead. –Solon
The hard part comes because there is usually a long interval inbetween the end of the Hero’s Journey, and when he actually dies. This is also hard because our culture worships youth and reviles domesticity.
But the whole point of completing the Hero’s Journey is that it means you can leave your youth behind, and join the adult world. Once there, the pace of activity lessens, although impact may increase. In order to tell a story in this mode, you have to change what you do. And this is exactly what Wood does, slowing the pace of the book immensely, and allowing Philo the full scope of his life. One of the real advantages of a book compared to a medium like film is that it is relatively easy to shift scale and mode, and then allude to a period of happy domesticity without destroying the narrative entirely.
In a movie, a scene like this is hard to do except as an after-credits scene, but in The Earth a Machine to Speak, this thing happens three-quarters of the way through, and it fits perfectly.
We still have all the trademarks of the Yankee Republic series. The engineering marvels like the Mesta 50,000 ton press, the ancestral gods of wine and grain and the forge, hidden in plain sight, and Philo’s fundamental nature of being as wise as a serpent and guileless as a dove.
I heartily recommend the Yankee Republic series as a juvenile novel, a grand adventure, and a beautiful imagining of a world that never was, but perhaps should have been.
My other book reviews | Reading Log
Other books by Fenton Wood
Pirates of the Electromagnetic Waves (Yankee Republic Book 1) | Second Review
Five Million Watts (Yankee Republic Book 2) | Second Review
The Tower of the Bear (Yankee Republic Book 3)
The City of Illusions (Yankee Republic Book 4)