Friday, November 16, 2012

Alice Reads: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

I am mobile blogging from the airport and can't resist doing it. I brought with me a very interesting novel, A Discovery of Witches (ISBN: 9780143119678) one that I bought in October last year, and recommenced reading now during my trip. So with me on this vacation are witches, daemons, vampires, and of course, humans.

Matthew Clairmont is an enigmatic vampire, a scientist, very intellectual and although his initial interest is in an enchanted alchemical manuscript, now he can't seem to resist Diana Bishop, a powerful witch who in denial of her own powers. She is the one who could unlock the secrets of the ancient manuscript. Diana is a young scholar and historian.

This post is about a passage that caught me by surprise and by that I meant I got teary-eyed. I want to share those words here, and they're from page 135 when Matthew is playing chess with his gay but brilliant-genius daemon friend, Hamish.

Matthew let out his breath and sat back in his chair, staring at the chessboard. His queen stood encircled by his own pieces - pawns, a knight, and a rook. Across the board his king was checked by a lowly black pawn. The game was over, and he had lost.

"There's more to the game than protecting your queen," Hamish said. "Why do you find it so difficult to remember that it's the king who's not expendable?"

"The king just sits there, moving one square at a time. The queen can move so freely. I suppose I'd rather lose the game than forfeit her freedom."

Hamish wondered if he was talking about chess or Diana. "Is she worth the cost, Matt?" he asked softly. 

"Yes," Matthew said without a moment of hesitation, lifting the white queen from the board and holding it between fingers.

"I thought so," Hamish said. "You don't feel this way now, but you're lucky to have found her at last."

The vampire's eyes glittered, and his mouth twisted into a crooked smile. "But is she lucky, Hamish? Is she fortunate to have a creature like me in pursuit?"

"That's entirely up to you. Just remember - no secrets. Not if you love her."

Matthew looked into her queen's serene face, his fingers closing protectively around the small carved figure.

He was still holding it when the sun rose, long after Hamish had gone to sleep.