Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Gold Under Ice by Carol Buchanan

Folks, I met Carol  Buchanan on Twitter (just as I'd met Gene Doucette there), she mentioned she'd written a Historical titled GOLD UNDER ICE, about gold mining during the civil war in Montana.  I think we were talking about "Westerns" which I love on some #chat and so I asked for a review copy.

She sent me the e-book (it's also in paperback). 

I loved this book.  It's a feel-good read that is so smooth and nicely crafted.  I'll be raving about it for a while.

As I mentioned last week, I can't think how to use it in a writing lesson.  This novel is so smooth, so tightly woven, there's just no way to manipulate it the way I showed you that you could manipulate Gene Doucette's IMMORTAL. 

But I think you should try reading it for contrast/compare. 

So I reviewed GOLD UNDER ICE in my column for The Monthly Aspectarian - it's in the June 2011 issue.  (for print magazines you have to work with a lead time)

I sent Carol Buchanan a copy of my review.

Now consider this magazine is New Age and has a very steep "slant" -- it's readers are conversant with Tarot, Astrology, and dozens of magical systems and neo-pagan practices.  I talk jargon in that column, and readers know what I mean. 

So I didn't think Carol would like what I wrote.

She wrote back that she was pleased  to be presented to a readership she had no idea would be interested in this novel, but she had no idea what I'd said.

Hmmm.  Thought about that, and strove to explain what I'd said. 

I'd indicated that GOLD UNDER ICE was a novel of Initiation in the 9's of the Tarot, in Wands, Cups, Swords, Pentacles. 

If you've read my posts here on Tarot, you should be able to see immediately why this would be a grand hook for New Age readers.

And you should see instantly what an accomplishment I thought the novel was.

Maybe not.

Here are two posts listing my posts on Tarot, in case you missed them.



Read the 9's. 

I've only posted on Swords and Pentacles on this blog -- the set of chapters on Wands and Cups are in the as yet unpublished books on Tarot I've written.  The holdup is lack of interior artwork - 3 versions of the Tree of Life diagram.

But 9's are 9's - all 4 represent the Astral Plane in some way.

So here's this novel, GOLD UNDER ICE, that is a real treasure of a find for me, and I'm trying to explain to the author why I wrote an offhand reference to the Tarot 9's in the review. 

The Hero, main character, point of view character - the person whose story we live through in this novel, goes through 4 Major Initiation experiences simultaneously.

The whole thing is woven together in a life's biography integral to the Civil War years in both New York and Montana (during the time it became a Territory of it's own).

There's a rich tapestry of historical fact, without a single expository lump -- the facts are all used smoothly the way Andre Norton always wove alien background into her novels.

The author was surprised to hear me liken Historicals to Fantasy Genre, or SF -- but she writes a little bit like Andre Norton, but for adults (yes, GOLD UNDER ICE is a sequel to a prequel that won an award, and it's got an ongoing Romance thread to pant over!)

But the writing technique for building imaginary worlds is identical to that needed for Historical worlds.  After all, Gene Roddenberry sold Star Trek as "Wagon Train To The Stars."

Each of these tidbits of historical fact is related to the overall themes, the 4 Initiations and what it takes to pass through those stages into adulthood.

The main character "arcs" -- changes, and grows in emotional maturity by facing situations that are natural to life in those times.

OK, that's easy, but Buchanan does 4 of them simultaneously without letting the seams bulge!  This is a beautiful novel for the student of the esoteric. 

But she didn't know what I'd called her novel!  How could I explain it?

Here's how I boiled it down for her. Could you do it better?


Yesod is the name of the Sephera of the Tree of Life right "above" our everyday world, the nearest "place" or psychological plane, where Time is not Defined -- it's the "astral plane" of dreams where everything is plastic.

The Wands, Cups, Swords and Pentacles are the "suits" of the Tarot - each "suit" represents one of the 4 "Worlds" of the Kaballah, Thought, Emotion, Action, Materialization.  Each of the 4 has all 10 Sepheroth.

This readership can be counted on to be familiar with (or learning) all that shorthand.

9 Wands is the state of being all fenced in with defenses - your guy is VERY defensive, all wound up in his own ideas until "she" comes into his heart.

9 Cups is all about fulfillment of emotional potential - getting what you really want out of life (he falls in true Love)

9 Swords is your deepest subconscious nightmares - your guy goes back home and faces down his inner demons

9 Pentacles - wealth - being independently wealthy, being strongly situated in a "house" (or life) with solid foundations.  Independence of wealth - security, and it's also associated with INHERITANCE (in your guy's case, he inherited a debt).  It's about materializing your dreams.  This is where that "Honor" aspect comes in.

Putting all 4 together, those are the life lessons your guy comes through with flying colors.

Any way you slice it, you wrote a good book.
GOLD UNDER ICE is totally different from Gene Doucette's IMMORTAL, almost the obverse, but only because of Point of View and the nature of the character whose head you ride in. 

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

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