Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by John Crowley, illo Melody Newcomb.
The protagonist of Ka is the corvid Dar Oakley, and the narrator is a nameless man to whom the bird has told his stories, a string of recollected Crow lives over the entirety of human history. The first part is set in prehistoric Europe and the second in the Middle Ages. Part three has two major arcs: one among Native Americans prior to colonization, and another during and after the US Civil War. The final part of the novel returns to the context of the narrator in “the Ruins of Ymr,” a near-future setting of social and ecological decay.
The pace throughout is slow and thoughtful, caught between the divergent perceptions and expressions of Person and Crow. There are multiple visionary episodes. As a whole, the book contemplates the incomprehension of memory and mortality, along with the value of story itself.