RogerBW's Blog

Last First Snow, Max Gladstone 09 June 2020

2015 fantasy. In the city of Dresediel Lex, the run-down area down by the docks is to be redeveloped, and everyone will make a lot of money. Except for the locals, but who cares about them?

There is no warning that this happens twenty-odd years before Two Serpents Rise. Characters familiar from that book seem to be acting more naïvely and more crudely than they did there… and hang on, wasn't he an adult then? So yeah, it's decades earlier, and that tells us who's going to live and who's a candidate for dying.

Which is fine, I suppose. A bit disorientating but fine.

What threw me further was the pacing; for reasons, the redevelopment can't go ahead without some sort of agreement from the locals, so Elayne Kevarian sets up the negotiations, but it's all larded with foreboding, dragging out to the point that one just wants them to get on with it… but it's more than 40% of the way through the book that The Thing happens and the real story starts.

"Whatever happened," he said, "to the woman who razed the Askoshan Necropolis? I miss her."

Elayne let one corner of her mouth creep upward. "She wouldn't have survived as long as I have. She didn't, in fact."

All right, some of this is personal taste. I have the same reaction to this kind of synthetic narrative tension in other media, and particularly in comedy (the trope where someone is digging himself deeper and deeper, and everyone except that person knows it). Here there's lots of honest negotiation going on and you know it's all going to be pointless.

But with the bones of the analogies to real-world finance and the Occupy movement lying so very close to the surface this time, the differences became more obvious. Yes, there are parallels with Occupy and the eternal problem of American police violence, but here the Craftspeople (financiers) don't only want to make lots of money from the redevelopment; there's a genuine concern that with the old God-powered wards failing the poor district could be a point of vulnerability to external magical attack that would destroy the rest of the city too. That attempt to wedge in some symmetry broke the story for me, because (especially combined with the arbitrary ruling that the locals have to be consulted) it was so obviously an authorial thumb on the scales to get the two sides talking to each other that my suspension of disbelief crumbled.

Elayne briefly considered gutting the man, and decided against it. In her experience spraying a Court hallway with blood and other humors was rarely a good idea. That one time in Iskar had been a special case.

And without that, well, I suppose I can admire it on a technical level, and there's a pleasant leavening of humour, but while many people regard this as the best of the books so far it seems to be aimed very much at readers other than me.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog.

Previous in series: Full Fathom Five | Series: Craft Sequence

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

Search
Archive
Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech aviation base commerce battletech beer boardgaming book of the week bookmonth chain of command children chris chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup covid-19 crime cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 essen 2019 existential risk falklands war fandom fanfic fantasy feminism film firefly first world war flash point flight simulation food garmin drive gazebo genesys geocaching geodata gin gkp gurps gurps 101 gus harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo 2020 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life javascript julian simpson julie enfield kickstarter kotlin learn to play leaving earth linux liquor lovecraftiana lua mecha men with beards museum music mystery naval noir non-fiction one for the brow opera parody paul temple perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics postscript powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha python quantum rail raku ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs ruby rust science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance the weekly challenge thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel type 26 type 31 type 45 vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1