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Thu Jun 19th, 2014

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01:10 pm - Feathered serpents and such
Finished the Acatl trilogy finally. I think I'm simply not on de Bodard's wavelength because I found it a confusing read from start to end, which either means the author isn't using the tropes I'm used to or is following a narrative line I can't. Here nothing seems to happen for a long time until suddenly there's a solution. This is not how mysteries are supposed to work.

Disaster threatens in each book-- really seriously bad stuff, possibilities of mass deaths in unpleasant fashions-- and Acatl spends his time saying 'We must do something', only 'something' tends to default to interviewing people, getting a bad feeling from what they're saying- or not saying- and then going away before he learns anything solid. Or telling his priests to get information on somebody's background instead of, I dunno, dealing with epidemics and people dying? Or indulging in family-type banter with his sister, 'ohh noes she'll be really mad at us now' fashion, while umm the population of the city is going to be wiped out any minute, had you noticed?

And while I know people at the top tend to be obstructive, the mass uselessness of the high priests here kind of boggles belief. On account of the population of the city is going to be wiped out any minute, had you noticed, guys?

Acatl seems to operate in a fog most of the time, which makes the story he's in seem, well, foggy. At least there's a point where he does do something in the end, but I wish I'd understood why better.

This doesn't seem to have bothered most people on Goodreads, so it may just be me. Or, as I sometimes suspect, it doesn't bother people because they skim rather than read, so the bumpfy unclear stuff passes them by.

(5 comments | post comment)


[User Picture]
Date:June 19th, 2014 08:42 pm (UTC)
My impression from shorts is everything you describe is pretty much b/c of the author's style. But yeah, that would irritate me. Mysteries are a genre of their own, with their own expectations, on top of SFF or whatever. It's a lot of work, but authors make it work all the time.

Still, that's disappointing, I had meant to read it one of these days. If I try it, I'll let you know what I think.
[User Picture]
Date:June 20th, 2014 01:17 am (UTC)
Oh dear. I was hoping it was because she's by nature a short story writer and novels are not her forte. The style is flat but workable-- it didn't pain me terribly, not as much as a lot of steampunk regularly does. There may be a problem with writing in one's second language, but as I say, it's pace and selection of details more than style that bogged me down.
[User Picture]
Date:June 20th, 2014 03:56 am (UTC)
On the other hand ... I'm re-reading Wilkie Collins' "Moonstone" again ... and finding it heartily, reassuringly as good as it was the first time round. (Of course it is more misogynistic in tone than I remembered, but I forgave it that because at 11 or 12 I didn't even know what the word meant, and also because in the time it was written, I can forgive it also)

I appreciate the sense of place even more so now than before because I had not been then to England before, and it's settings in Yorkshire mentions the familiar surroundings I can relate to. The London 1860's (the place names and atmosphere have a feel that is not too different from my experience of 1980's London. But that's probably more me and my imagination than any 'real' thing)

It has a less dense, and less foggy atmosphere than say Poe's Rue Murders, and Doyle's Sherlock, and quite different to Collins' own 'Woman in White' in tone, although the narrative style from several points-of-view is still there.

In all a most satisfying re-read. As very few are. ^__^
[User Picture]
Date:June 20th, 2014 11:58 am (UTC)
Nice when that happens. I liked The Woman in White both times through but never made it into The Moonstone, which I remember as being full of smug Englishmen. Maybe I should give it another try.
[User Picture]
Date:June 20th, 2014 12:07 pm (UTC)
Hmmmm yes there might be one or two of the smug Englishmen I guess, but I think it is worth a read. ^_^

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