Monday, June 04, 2007



Ellen Kushner

Date: 1987   —   $6.99   —   Book

product page


Fiction, Fantasy

This is an utterly incomprehensible novel of beautiful prose. It took me several chapters to understand what was going on, as the passionless nobles bitterly scrabble for position. The saving grace is the relationship between St. Vier and Alec, a scholar who has given up privilege for a seeming death wish. But St. Vier is the best swordsman in the city, a man who is hired to take place in duels that the nobles are unwilling to fight themselves, and he protects Alec. (Yes, there is a lot of homoerotic imagery in this book; You Have Been Warned.)

Another interesting side plot is the tale of Michael, a nobleman who decides to actually train in the use of the sword and discovers he has a talent for it. Part of my disenchantment with this novel is in how abruptly this developing plot point is dropped in order to clear the way for the more central tale of St. Vier and Alec. It still had a lot to be explained but was waved off with a few paragraphs.

There are a number of fans of this novel who are drawn to its tale of manners and consequence. However, it just falls flat on so many levels for me, which is a pity as Alec, in particular, is so very intriguing (though his origins are easy to guess.)

No comments: