Simon Baker

Mood Indigo

Starbook

By

Rider 422pp £12.99 order from our bookshop
 

Ben Okri’s new novel is a fantasy tale set on ancient earth, in the days before we lost our souls to global conquest and technology. It features a land where magic is an accepted part of life, and art – art for its own sake, that is, not for money – is the highest human endeavour.

Summarising the plot is a fairly light task, since, despite the book’s length, very little happens: unlike other fantasy-type novels, Starbook aims to interest readers through its depth of description, not through the dramatic unfolding of events. In the first of its four parts, a sensitive prince falls for a mysterious maiden (the nomenclature bears this generic, fairytale style throughout), but then, sickened by the evils perpetrated against the downtrodden people in his country, he falls into a coma. In part two we meet the maiden’s tribe, a group of mystical artists who can create works that literally send people mad with their brilliance. In the third part a white wind begins to erase portions of the land and its culture. The prince then awakens from his illness, takes a job as assistant to the maiden’s father, and tries to reunite with the maiden, which leads to a short, concluding fourth part.

There is a moral undercurrent throughout – it is difficult, say, to miss the implication that this is a world whose people know less than we do on one level, and yet at the same time know very much more – but it remains vague until the third part,

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter