The Philosopher’s Crystal by Marcin Dolecki is a fantasy tale set in the communist times in east central Europe. However, it is the philosophical quest that is the essence of the story. A young boy and a young girl meet under suspicious circumstances. They both neither trust each other nor they have reason to not trust. However, they do come together to live a dream together till all the secrets between them are opened one by one.
In a dream sequence, the couple travels through time and space to meet philosophers from around the world. They time travel to places and speak to various philosophers including Adi Shankara from India.
Philip, the boy in the story, loves to read books. He probably inherited this habit from his parents, who were arrested for holding banned books in their library. It is the story of people who lived in the imagined world that they acquire from their readings. So, our protagonist goes along with the lady he has just met, travels to Ancient Rome and Amsterdam and some part of India. He meets the philosophers and asks them questions that he always had for them.
As a reader, you get a glimpse of each of these philosophies. I do not think you would get much unless you already know them. However, the author through his narrative in a way presents the comparative philosophies. Towards the end, when you read the climax of the story, you wonder what is the correlation with all the philosophies that our hero was reading.
I wish Marcin Dolecki had dwelt a little more on storyline between the two protagonists. I wish he had not left the main location unnamed though you can imagine it was somewhere in Poland.
Overall, I think the concept is interesting. In a neat story, you visit different times around the world, you get to hear the philosophies that defined those times. The execution could have been better. The characters are very well etched, but their backgrounds are left blurry as is their future. After the characters come back to reality – I got totally lost. There is a time lapse of 10 years and we as a reader have no idea what happened in those 10 years. We only know the two strangers stayed together but how did they reach the climax situation is totally lost.
How did all the reading help young Philip – I wonder. How did Philip and Julia come together even when they did not trust each other? What was the revolution all about? A lot more stuffing would have made it a well-rounded story.
The language of Philosopher’s Crystal is jerky – it is good at places and confusing at places. You get a feeling it is not the native language of the author. Or something is lost in translation. I enjoyed the time travel part of the story. The opening is brilliant – it creates the right amount of curiosity in the reader, the end, however, leaves you wanting for more.
You may buy this book – Philosopher’s Crystal The Treacherous Terrain of Tassatarius by Marcin Dolecki from Amazon.
Take your call.