RogerBW's Blog

Know Your Rites, Andy Redsmith 20 February 2023

2019 comic fantasy, second and to date last of the Inspector Paris series. The invasion from fantasyland has been repelled, but things aren't quite back to normal.

Well, this is interesting. I found the humour in the first book low-key and quite pleasant – occasional puns, but mostly not enough to distract from the serious business of the plot and characterisation. And that's true here too (apart from a sudden load of whimsical talking animals), indeed if anything the humour is less present than before… but somehow the other stuff hasn't expanded to take its place. I was surprised to notice while reading that I'd got to 88% of the book; it didn't feel like a story that was gathering itself to spring into its climax, but rather one that was just getting on with the business of connecting the dots from E to F to G.

A dwarf wants to be a rapper but is quite bad at it at it: OK, that's good for a grin. The societal implications of a dwarf being a rapper, and how that could overset nations that are still stuck with a slightly laxer version of the feudal system: that's potentially great. But also, Paris doesn't like rap. Paris doesn't like rap again. Ooh, here's a surprise, Paris doesn't like rap. Bored now. I mean, I don't particularly like rap either, but it's not intended for me!

Of course, the first book had a lot of world-building to do, and this one really doesn't: Redsmith has set up the way things are and needs only a brief recap, and perhaps that's the unfilled void that left the thing feeling a bit aimless and sometimes padded.

Malbus scoffed. ‘You don't expect us lot to be the Magnificent Seven, do you?'

‘Why not?'

‘For one thing, there's nine of us.'

If you liked the first book and wanted more of the same, well, I don't think you'll even get that (unless it was the easy jokes). But this book certainly doesn't try to go at all beyond that.

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