Opinion | My epic (and endless) summer reading list


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Where does this leave fantasy epics? Their purpose, beyond pure entertainment, is construction of a moral universe different from ours, with different gods and dilemmas; rituals and standards, tests, triumphs and failures. Many of the epic fantasies construct vast archipelagoes of competing regimes that, while hardly as helpful as Aristotle’s “Politics,” still dance around the ancient and central question of what form of government is best. Machiavelli is embedded in these tales, as is Rousseau. Very few Thomas Jeffersons, quite a few Stalins and Maos, and occasionally the attempt at the genuinely heroic.

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