The Solaris Book of New Fantasy edited by George MannThe Prince of End Times
by Hal Duncan

It’s easier to quote poets than to read them.
Allison Barrows, Preteena, 09-30-06

This quote, in many ways, sums up the journey I took through Hal Duncan’s magical, but almost impenetrable, short story, The Prince of End Times. Duncan is less a prosaist and more a poet playfully pandering to an internal desire to write a novel. The result of this is a story that makes you work, but ultimately rewards you dearly for your efforts.

It’s not enough to create magic. You have to create a price for magic, too. You have to create rules.
Eric A. Burns, Gossamer Commons, 06-15-05

Duncan’s story just oozes style. His effective, liberal use of alliteration creates a dreamy, musical cant usually reserved for only the best of poetry. The price of Duncan’s magic is the willingness to look deeper into his prose, to search out the story and the characters for yourself. He hands nothing to you on a platter and this technique, despite the beauty and playfulness of his prose, is sure to turn off many more readers than it turns on.

Despite the buzz and critical success surrounding Duncan, I had yet to encounter any of his writing for myself. Generally I find myself shying away from authors who make you work too much, instead leaning towards authors who take the safer road with their prose and storytelling habits. So, by all rights, I should have loathed what Duncan offered, but instead found myself lost in his lyrical story. Like the best of poems, it is beautiful even with only a cursory glance, but only those who devote themselves to diving deep within will discover the true beauty within.

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  • Madville December 30, 2007 at 10:19 pm

    I read “The Prince of End Times” in the Solaris Book of New Fantasy. I can honestly say that there was a really cool story beneath it all… But by the end of the story, I had almost no clue what was going on. It was too obscure and tiring to try and decipher the story out of the jumble of nonsense words that abounded in the story.

  • JDavidBodzin January 4, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    I hated it…at first. Then I sort of liked it as I started to understand how to read it. Then at the end I loved it. The style of writing is extremely frustrating at times, but the frustration lends itself to how the character is feeling. It truly is an epic poem in the style of Beowulf. Full of emotion and tragedy.

  • aidan January 6, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    Glad you guys liked it.

    To be honest, I’m not sure if I could read a whole novel in this style, but I sure thought it was interesting in a small dose!