Review: John C. Wright’s The Iron Chamber of Memory

John C. Wright's The Iron Chamber of Memory is skillful, entertaining contemporary fantasy.
In The Iron Chamber of Memory,  John C. Wright delivers skillful, entertaining contemporary fantasy.

While a modern-day feudal lord prepares for marriage, his best man wrestles with his feelings for his friend’s bride and struggles to unravel the mystery of the cryptic room which is the only place in which they all can remember their true selves.

In The Iron Chamber of Memory, John C. Wright cooks up a complicated love triangle in the context of a work spanning fantasy and mystery and spiced with a healthy dose of history, myth, and legend. Wright’s tale exploits an ingenious gimmick – the concept of a secret room being the only place in which his characters can remember their true selves. They then must struggle to influence their outside selves to act so as to maintain and achieve their goals and values.

I’m not deeply religious, but I nevertheless respect the craftsmanlike way in which Wright delivers an intriguing tale drawing on English history, Arthurian legend, and Christian belief. His work is reminiscent of C.S. Lewis. As in his also excellent recent novel, Somewhither: A Tale of the Unwithering Realm, Wright draws heavily on Christian themes and ideas, to deliver a solid story that stands well on its own merits. I was particularly delighted by the skillful way in which Wright wove the real-world, real-life history of the Island of Sark into his fantastical tale. A talented prose stylist, Wright’s intricate command of language may sometimes fall short of sublime, but the joy lies in observing the master at work.

Wright’s entertaining tale is well-worth the price.

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