RogerBW's Blog

The Mortal Word, Genevieve Cogman 26 January 2024

2018 alternate-world fantasy, fifth of its series. The Fae and the Dragons have been brought to an alternate Paris to negotiate a peace treaty. But one of the negotiators has been assassinated, and not-Sherlock-Holmes Lord Peregrine Vale is the obvious person to solve it.

But while this might seem like the perfect excuse to have Irene playing Watson, that isn't what this book is about. Rather, Irene finds herself playing political games, with at least three sides (Fae, dragons, her superiors at the Library) and maybe more (a rogue Fae who may or may not be collaborating with one or other of the official Fae here).

As we've seen before, the way the Fae gain power is by aligning themselves with a stereotype; here we get the Cardinal (the Richelieu-style mad plotter), the Princess (she exudes Good and everyone wants to help her), and the Countess (based on both the history and the legendry of Báthori Erzsébet, mostly the latter)—while Lord Silver continues to be the seducing rake, though by not going wholeheartedly into that he both reduces his power and increases his freedom of action. It's great fun to watch this playing out.

But apart from that… it's very much the recipe as before, with Irene thrown into situations over her head without any support and set up as a scapegoat even if she should by some miracle survive. There's some progress in the overall plot, but the big questions remain resolutely unanswered. (And the title… there are several mentions here that (a) Irene realises she doesn't know all of the Language that's her superpower and (b) it can't be used to kill people. So you'd think that The Mortal Word would be the bit of Language that does kill people. But no, there's no connection between title and plot.)

These books continue to be just engaging enough to keep me reading.

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Previous in series: The Lost Plot | Series: The Invisible Library | Next in series: The Secret Chapter

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