This is an ongoing series looking at books that have influenced one fantasy author.
by John Milton
I only read this book a couple of years ago. It blew my mind.
I’m not a “words” writer. I’m what I think of as a blue-collar writer, typing out the story and getting it done. I rarely focus upon the beauty of words when I’m writing. Poetry, with few exceptions, I tend to find self-indulgent to the point of obnoxiousness.
But Paradise Lost, it was something special. It showed me how words could be used beautifully, while still telling a tale to its maximum effect.
If you’ve not read it, Paradise Lost is the story of the fall of Satan and his temptations of Adam and Eve. For the most part, this book published by John Milton in 1667 is told from Satan’s viewpoint, though there is a generous middle section that focuses upon Adam.
It’s quite possibly the most beautiful literary work I’ve had the pleasure to read. The words bring to life the rage and depravity of Lucifer, while also making him understandable to some extent without making you feel sorry for him. Lucifer is the villain. It’s his job. It’s what he does. And here he does it well.
Adam and Eve come off as somewhat simple-minded, but it makes sense that they would be. They were the first people, and they were new to the world. They had a lot to learn, and were taken advantage of by Satan.
Despite the subject matter, and the outcome of Satan downfall and man’s falling away from God, this story isn’t a downer. The reader is left with a positive ending, a look to the future possibilities of redemption. And God’s love.
Whether you are a Christian or not, you owe it to yourself to read this fine book. Make no mistake, it’s not the easiest of reads, but it is well worth your time. Especially if you love the beauty of words, which I’ve come to recognize.
Up next: In Cold Blood