First of all, it is necessary to mention, that the novel, written in 1984, and describing the epoch of the VIII century touch upon the matter, that had been fluctuated humanity for centuries. The striving for immortality and eternity occupied the minds of the greatest philosophers and alchemists. While viewing the plot, a lot of elements to emphasize may be mentioned. An influential and virtuous 8th-century king named Alobar narrowly escapes euthanasia at the hands of his subjects, as it is their tradition to kill the king at the first sight of aging. After escaping, no longer a king but just a peasant, he makes a trip through Eurasia, and ultimately meets the goat-god Pan, who is gradually losing his supremacies as the world turns toward Christianity. In India, he bumps into the mature personification of a child he used to be acquainted with, Kudra, who goes on to be converted into his wife. As with most of Robbins’ couples, their shared libido is massive, and their love is quite like something out of a fairy tale.
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The personal impression, and the greatest one, is that a lot of matters are combined in the only novel, and the main characters face lots of possible problems and challenges in their lives.
One of the main points of the novel is the relations within the four elements: air, water, fire, and earth. It is necessary to mention, that these four elements are always described by the authors to emphasize the unity of the world, as it can not exist without at least one of these: the balance would be violated, which may have fatal consequences.
Water! Of all liquids on Earth, the only one chosen for scrubbin’ and flushin’. The liquid they rinse baby’s nappies in, the fluid that floods the gutters o’ this cloud-squeezer town; a single drop o’ water discolors a glass of Irish, and you, false friend, are wantin’ me to pour this abrasive substance into me defenseless body!
Fire may be the good servant, but it is bad master, as a proverb goes, and it may serve either good or bad:
If you didn’t serve the nasty fellow (God), the Romans would burn your house down. If you did serve him, you were called a Christian and got to burn other people’s houses down.
If talk about the application of the four elements to people’s lives, the only fact which may be said is that people’s characters are alike the four elements and their combinations, but the point is that, the world would be too plain and boring without such dissimilarities.
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The connection of ancient times with the present days is also one of the most impressive moments of the novel, as in present-day, a waitress Priscilla challenges a difficult job in a Mexican restaurant. Priscilla is an amateur perfumer and is slowly goes crazy trying to find a base note for her new perfume, something she believes will be almost supernatural, a perfume she discovered in the gift of a thousand-year-old bottle. While dealing with this, she also juggles the unnecessary proceeds of a lesbian co-worker, a brief affair with an eccentric millionaire obsessed with life extension, and a mysterious stranger who keeps delivering beets to her apartment.
It is a saga, as well. A saga must have a hero, and the hero of this one is a gatekeeper with an absent bottle. The bottle is blue, very, very old, and imprinted with the image of a goat-horned god. If the fluid in the bottle is is the clandestine spirit of the creation, as some folks seem to think, it had better be exposed soon since it is leaking and there is only a drop or two left. The analogies with the drops of the perfume in the bottle may be very different. Some may see the ending of life, some the finishing decease, but anyway, it is claimed to show, that nothing can be eternal, and everything ends in this world. Another – rather interesting analogy needs to be mentioned: here – the analogy with the “strange story of doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde”, when some people “feed” their good or bad halves, and one starts prevailing, the leaking perfume may also be associated with the changes within the human, when people change after some challenges in their lives.