In R.L. Jackson’s novel, The Ages of Entanglement, Samson, an aged man, strives to protect himself from the intrusion of others as he wanders a near future Southeast nearly depopulated by a technological blunder. He fears entanglement with others, because entanglement precedes loss, and he’s already suffered enough loss for several lifetimes. But when he encounters the solemn and capable girl, Selene, and a handful of other travellers Samson is drawn back into the web of human relationships.
I enjoyed this The Ages of Entanglement, a good example of a self-published author writing an atypical story in a distinct voice. In addition, I lived for a time in the Southeast on a barrier island; Solomon and Selene travel through familiar territory. The well-formatted and edited prose has only minor issues. In the beginning, an omniscient voice lyrically describes Samson’s world and situation. Much of the remaining story reads as if from Samson’s point of view in distant third person, with his thoughts and actions somewhat filtered or told and not shown, giving the text a remote quality. But in long sequences told from Samson’s point of view, the text occasionally describes events from someone else’s vantage point, these passages reading more like slips in point of view than omniscient voice. And while the marine and nautical imagery merges well with the coastal Southeast setting, an analogy to Greek mythology felt forced or partially developed.
Regardless, this novel is an intriguing journey into a particular old man’s mind, into the natural beauty of the Southeastern US and into a series of philosophical treatises left open to interpretation. Readers hoping for heart-pumping, non-stop post-apocalyptic action may become lost in the language, but I found both prose and poetry lovely:
“Some individuals, empty soulless vessels without luggage or cargo, float high in the water and can slip across hidden barriers just below the surface.”
“They called the colors pastels, but truly they were just primary colors defeated in battle.”
“Bits of truth began to emerge from his thoughts, but he could not identify them among the tangled moss.”