As the last Sword & Laser assignment of the year I read “Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr” by John Crowley in which the reader gets to know the world from the point of view of a crow.
What sounds like a rather short story starts many centuries ago and spans at least two continents. How this is possible if a single crow is the protagonist here is something that I will leave unanswered for now. Keep in mind, though, that crows have the nickname “Death Birds” and the reason for that is explained from the perspective of the protagonist, Ka. In short, over the course of his life he learns probably more about what humans call the “after-life” and the various heavens and hells than he wants to.
The other big question you might pose is, “How can a crow write a book?”. The story is actually told by a single human being and Ka tells the story of his life to this “companion”. In fact, Ka, over the course of the book, has quite a few companions and it was sometimes not clear to me who was actually the narrator.
Still, the story was engaging and I very much enjoyed the “biology lessons”. The author explains the day-to-day and season-to-season life of crows in detail which also included thing like how they interact with flocks from other regions or even other animals.
Sadly, I struggled a bit too much with the vocabulary (not the fault of the author or the book) and sometimes also with the jumping around between the various epochs. It was definitely not an easy read but still in large parts enjoyable 🙂 That being said, I’m happy that there was no cliffhanger nor, as far as I can tell, a second part 😉