Review copy provided by Tor Books.
If you’re one of the people who still can’t believe that George R. R. Martin had [horrible result] happen to [character], good news! The last book of Brian Staveley’s trilogy is out. If you’re one of the people who got tired of that and wandered off to look at a stand of birch trees, also good news. The world still has birch trees in it.
By the beginning of this book, everything has gone seriously to hell in a handbasket, and continues to do so. The difficulty of having the central problem of the series be “how do we keep everyone in the world from becoming loveless monsters” is that you have to show people not currently all being loveless monsters, or else the basic response is, “eh.”
I really wanted to like this. I really, really did. After this many pages, I was invested. And Staveley does have some cameos of minor characters who care about each other–and he does have, eventually, some major characters realize that life is not all suffering. Five hundred pages into the third book. But for whom is the boilerplate at the end of this review? Who might enjoy this, who might want to read it? People who don’t mind wallowing in the darkedy darkedy dark of the grimdark even when the premise is supposed to be undercutting it and specifically on the side of choosing caring. Because this is a lot of wallowing. This is a lot of muddle and muck–a lot of instances of things going wrong in eye-rollingly predictable fashion–“don’t let thing go wrong, A!” says B, so of course A screws up in exactly that manner–before the end finally comes.
I think the thing that tipped me over the line into NO NOT REALLY, NO: was the disabilityfail. The major, utter, total disabilityfail. Here is your rule of thumb: if your character’s disability literally goes away when it is most convenient for it to go away. If you have your character discussing how this happens. I will not care that you have come up with a magical reason for why this happens. I will start spelling magical with extra a’s at that point: your magical reason is now a maaaaaagical reason.
Because here’s the thing: I always want my disability to go away. It would always be most convenient. I do not need barbarian warriors to be slashing at my head. The day I missed the wedding of one of my best friends in the world was enough. Or the day other people in my house got sick and no one was well enough to get groceries and we had to call for outside help. Or…oh, pick a random Tuesday. Tuesday is a good enough reason to Rully Rully Want to not be disabled. And pretty much every disabled person I know feels this way. (Now, you may have labeled some differences as disabilities that the person who has them does not label that way. That’s a separate conversation. But if the person who has it calls it a disability? They pretty much want it gone.) So the Convenient To The Plot Appearing And Disappearing Disability: don’t do that. Don’t ever, ever do that.
But if you’ve stuck with the previous two volumes and want to see how it all turns out….
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|Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux|