|Tower Lord, Raven's Shadow, Book 2, by Anthony Ryan
||[Feb. 6th, 2015|12:28 pm]
Tor Books reviews unfairly calls this book _Tower Bored_, claiming the rhythm is off. Well, yeah, it goes without saying that with multiple points of view, there won't be a single, driving story arc, but does that mean it's boring? Are GRRM's Game of Thrones books, which use the same device, boring? (Rhetorical. All together now, "Hell no." ) He goes on to say that this book brings in a host of story arcs unconnected to the first book "that no one cares about." Whoa, dude. Buy a clue. This book is about the survivors of war, the insurgents it breeds, the evolution of intolerant religion, and the fact that war-ravaged people and economies are ripe for picking by neighboring countries. All of these directly spring from the last book. The characters are interesting, if not as interesting as Vaelin himself was in the first book, the world-building is markedly improved, and this whole set-up is necessary for the showdown in book three between Vaelin and the Queen of Fire, which comes out July 7th.
I hope! Anthony Ryan, don't let me down!
By the by, Ryan deals with slavery in a very gritty, nausea-inducing way, particularly in presenting indoctrination. One character, known only by a number, is freed. Circumstances force him to continue to ply his particular skill set-- torturing, taking drugs to mask self-recrimination. It was telling that even though he's free, he can't choose a name. He's free to try them on, but not free enough to choose. And on the owner side, the extent to which the Volarians feel entitled to have slaves and the culture they've created around it, is just astonishing. There's a full-on Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf couple who fight more passionately with each other than while killing slaves both individually, in arm's reach, and en masse, at a distance, in unwinnable sieges. Quite an interesting take on slavery. By comparison, Joe Abercrombie's _Half A King_ did not go over well as a follow-up, slavery part of a broad heroic saga that didn't work for me.