Jan. 27th, 2006

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As promised [personal profile] coffeeandink: a reason not to buy.

I read Banewreaker in late 2005. I promised [personal profile] coffeeandink a review, and then realized that I remembered very little about it. Oops. However, that sorta proves some of my points about the book.

Jacqueline Carey's first series, starting with Kushiel's Dart, was striking if flawed. I found Phèdre, the main character and narrator, a sort of Mary Sue Masochist who never actually grows up: interesting for a while, but boring once the novelty wore off. I lost all sympathy when I realized that she wasn't just a Mary Sue, but a racist twit. However, the setting of the book was richly detailed and lush and interesting; Carey seemed a writer with real promise. But I remember Kushiel's Dart, which I read in 2001 or so, better than I remember Banewreaker.

The mythology of the Banewreaker world is real (to the world) and makes no sense. It's very Tolkienesque, complete with nobles and elfies and macguffins. There is an argument among gods, a prophesy, a magic sword in an unreachable location in a dark fortress in a nearly-unreachable location, and a lot of whiney angsty characters. The main characters are the Dark God (who isn't really evil, but comes off more as a Goth poseur than misunderstood), one of his Immortal Henchman (who is still wrapped up in his wife's adultery centuries after he killed her for it), and the nearly immortal Beautiful Elf Wench (who has all the personality of a wet Kleenex). Note to author: characters who hoard pain are not therefore interesting.

According to The Prophecy, if the BEW marries a descendant of the guy who screwed the IH's wife, the DG will be deposed. This is where things are really stupid: any member of that house will do, and would have done in all these centuries. Yet the DG, in true Evil Overlord fashion, waited for her to – finally! – get engaged to The Descendant before kidnapping her. And of course, she enters this world-changing engagement because of Twoo Wuv, and refused to do her duty or whatever without it. Since The Descendant is a noble cipher, I couldn't figure out what a centuries-old BEW would see in him. Neither can the author, apparently, because he's swept off stage pretty quickly. (Mighta been killed. I don't remember….)

There is some sort of romantic tension between the IH and the BEW. I know this because the cover flap tells me.

Oh, and the DG is the god of lust and procreation, and the argument among gods was centered on which races got his gift, and whatever. The symbolism was so heavy-handed that I couldn't even be bothered with it.

The most interesting characters are the Evil Sorceress, who befriends a dragon and magically enslaves beautiful young men and women and has an extreme terror of death, and the Crazy Immortal Henchman, who was raised by wolves. However, they weren't interesting enough, or likely to be present enough, to make me want to slog through the next book in the series.

Carey appears to be enthralled by her own complexity and depth. The end result, to me at least, comes off as entirely shallow.

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May 2012

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