mjj (flemmings) wrote,

Finished Point of Dreams, am going through Point of Hopes. I read them in that order the first time, eight years ago, and recall being disappointed in the latter after the former. Which proves only that I'm not a subtle reader. I still prefer Dreams for its urban setting and theatre focus, and its quite overt m/m, and the density of its background-- background which IIRC isn't really explained by the scene-setting of Hopes. In that way it reminds me of a RPG-- not that I've ever played any RPGs-- in the sense of there being side stories you can follow and back stories you can go into and a bunch of stuff that's all extraneous to the main story/ quest but still there if you want it.

Like the structure of the world itself, which is all show (in the most sideways and natural way possible) and don't tell, so you have to pick it up for yourself from fragments dropped by the pov character. This is work, I don't deny, which may be why the Points series is so much less popular than the Riverside one. (Well, that and having two decent main protagonists instead of a sociopath and his enabler, so there's no adolescent thrill to be had at their kewlness.) Myself I'd have liked a list of characters, just because I'm so bad with names, and there are so many names. And an explanation of an early WTF, where Rathe thinks he hasn't seen b'Estorr in weeks, ever since he started taking up with Philip, when in fact we've just seen b'Estorr calling on Rathe about the non-appearance of a dead man's lover's ghost.

But the work you put in is so very satisfying in the results. Astreiant feels real and solid in a way that Riverside does not, and its characters don't, for once, feel like Americans in period clothes. It's not just that it's A/U, it's an era that doesn't get A/U'd much at all. 16th- 17th century Holland, for Heaven's sake. I'll confess, Dreams read to me like England crossed with Holland at the time when England was, in fact, most crossable with Holland; but that was because of the sense of stability in the politics, a stability that was notably lacking when RL Spain and Austria and France were all fighting their wars in the low lands. The armies and mercenaries I'd expect are in fact all there in Hopes, so, well-- quite aside from having two suns, this place does feel like some engraving of a Dutch Peaceable Kingdom with a strong monarch and no Emperor or Louis sitting just beyond the borders.

It also has o-Bon, a fact that sort of slipped past me first time through, pre-100 Demons. A month long o-Bon when other people's ghosts becomes, mh, senseable as well as your own, and dogs return as well as former comrades. And now that I've finally clicked that the Silklands are a cross between our Africa and our China, and that quite a lot of people have Silklands blood in them (including Rathe, with his tight curly hair and tilted eyes) and that white skin is an odd trait of the Leaguers (any reference to Hanseatic same? except that they also have black hair)-- well, I'll be looking for more hints as to what pople actually look like here.

Alas, unlike a RPG, Astreiant's background is /not/ accessible by a side quest; and now never will be. Who were the landames and what happened to them, who were the Thirty-two Knives, who's this king and his dead favourite b'Estorr is now haunted by? I'd have liked to *know*.
Tags: points, reading_09

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