RogerBW's Blog

Any Other Name, Emma Newman 09 February 2024

2013 fantasy, second volume of a series. Cat's forced into marriage; Max and the gargoyle investigate a sudden power vacuum; Sam worries about his wife.

It sometimes feels like a middle volume, and there's not as much overlap between these threads as one might like. Cat's is the most interesting, because on one level she knows that her new husband Will is not by nature a tyrant (and even her father genuinely believed he was doing the best possible things to fit her to deal with a hostile world); but at the same time Will, good person as he tries to be, has pressures put on him by society and is weak enough not to let Cat's wishes stand in his way. In other words, it's not that these are uniquely horrible people, or even that every man and every woman is a horrible person; it's that in order to reach accommodaton with the world they're living in they have to be horrible to others, and thus perpetuate it all, while still managing to think of themselves as decent people in an imperftect world.

There's less world-building to get through this time, but it's clear that there's a quiet coup going on, and some organisations have been allowed to get far too much power simply because they're the ones that are willing to undertake distasteful tasks and not bother Society with the details. And there seems to be a new power in the offing—which, given the tenor of the story so far, I assume will be just as vile as all the others.

There's not much resolution here and the writing is mannered rather than lively, but the more I think about this book the more positive I feel about it.

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Previous in series: Between Two Thorns | Series: The Split Worlds

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