December 3rd, 2006

3 Dec 2006, by


Melusine by Sarah Monette (best guess 26) [specfic]. I checked this book out of the library at first, then picked it up from Peter’s discard pile. The adventures of Felix and Mildmay, residents of two very different parts of Melusine. I liked this book, but not without reservations. Things I liked: (1) the magic system is just perfect. It’s clear that a lot of effort and thought went into it and it works and is broken in all the right places to seem authentic. I loved the competing schools, the shortsightedness of people’s disbelief, how the usefulness of the magic came from people’s interpretation of how it works. (2) some of the terminology was just perfect (annemer, hocus, flashies, flats, mollys, Keeper, Kennels). She’s got a definite way with words, a sure way to woo me. (3) I like it when doing the right thing has cost, and that’s definitely the case in this book. No good deed goes unpunished, as they say. (4) the book is well-written. The author has an excellent command of rising tension, and the voice switches were seamlessly executed. I wanted to keep reading most of the time. (5) Mildmay rocks. Things I did not like: (1) a bit overboard with the unending melodrama. The relentlessness of it was less cathartic than tiresome. Oh, look, he’s blacked out from the pain again. (2) it’s page 290 before one of the major reveals (the reveal itself cleverly concealed and nicely done, imo) and somewhere before that there’s about 100 pages of totally unnecessary lunatic asylum. (3) I know I’m oversensitive to word and phrase repetition (I must be, I seem to complain about it all the time) but by about the seventh rep, I was ready to rip out pages with references to “hairy eyeballs” — a stupid, stupid phrase used about a dozen times. (4) the plot falls to pieces if anyone communicates to anyone else at any point in the book with clarity and honesty. Plots that are completely predicated on miscommunication irritate me. At the point when the compulsion is lifted but Felix still can’t bring himself to come clean and say what’s happened I got pretty impatient with the author, the book, and the protagonist. (5) I can totally buy a promiscuous happy puppy land with no STD’s (like in a standard romance, say), but if we’re going to have dark and gritty and promiscuous, then I need some syphilis in the mix to hold believability. C’mon, now. (6) everyone not the protags seemed a little flat and two-dimensional, most especially the evil folks. Sometimes people’s actions seemed to arise from no other impetus than plot convenience. Was this because of the first person narrative? I’m not sure. Other notes: just like any book with an intricate world (Perdido Street Station comes to mind) there were things that I was far more interested in than the author and I resented being yanked away from them. I liked the cade-skiffs, for example, but we couldn’t give them more than a couple of paragaphs, meanwhile we have to endure pages of court (yawn) intrigue. And why, oh why, couldn’t we get a date conversion appendix? Fine, enrich your world with multiple calendars, great, but help a reader out, willya? I still don’t know how long an indiction is (septad and decad were self-evident, afaic, but there were still weirdnesses such as Mildmay referring to people with two septad and three as kids. A seventeen-year-old is a kid? In this world? To a twenty-year-old? You’re kidding, right?). Things I didn’t get : why Thaddeus turns on Felix, the naming conventions, especially within Melusine and for Melusineans (why’s this one named Stephen and that one named Cardenio and the other named Joline?), how the politics works exactly. I’m still on the fence about whether I’ll read the next one. As you can see from my count, we’re slightly ahead on the did-not-like list, though I’ll forgive a lot for a truly decent magic system, and the plot has to be different in the next book, right? I finished this on 12/2/06.

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