|Swordspoint and the Fall of the Kings
||[Mar. 19th, 2006|05:18 pm]
I just spent a week steeped in the world of Riverside created by Ellen Kushner, and I have two comments: 1) I NEED RichardxAlec fic, but alas I don't think there's an organized fandom out there, and 2) sequels are never as good as the original, so what was I expecting?|
I read Swordspoint for the second time last weekend, and it was just as good the second time around, perhaps even better, because you can see the various threads more clearly and watch how they twine together in the climax. I remember reading on Holly Black's LJ that the writing was so delicious she wanted to lick every page, and I'd have to agree. I'll have to put my thoughts down in a more detailed and coherent manner when I get a chance. Not now, though, because I just finished reading The Fall of the Kings, the sequel written by Kushner and Delia Sherman. I had high hopes for this one, but alas, as a former Matrix Trilogy fan, I should have known how very difficult it is to do a good sequel, especially when the first one is so good. Kings is set about 60 years after the events of Swordspoint but the characters (and, it seems, the manners and politics and customs and everything about the first novel that was good) were sadly derivative. Whereas the dialogue of the first novel sparkled with double meanings, clever maneuvering, and deadly tension--all gilded with the dictates of manners and polite society--the dialogue of the second novel has the subtlety of a very large hunk of granite. Richard and Alec from Swordspoint had a relationship that was deliciously tense at times, sweet at others, angsty, and always slightly dangerous. Reading about them makes you feel heady and slightly drunk. What's more, their relationship wasn't the point of the book--they were already together at the beginning of the story and the story isn't about how their relationship progresses, but rather how they each get caught up in the political intrigues of the Hill. But their relationship is what launches the whole thing to its conclusion, so I guess their relationship is one of the many driving forces of the novel, politics, lust, and honor being the other drivers. I'll have to sit down and map out the power dynamics of the novel one of these days, just for the fun of it.
Basil's and Theron's relationship in Kings, however, seems to be based purely on sex. Where's the depth, the power play, the understanding, and the dynamicism? At points, it reads like a cheap romance novel and I find myself rolling my eyes and thinking oh god, surely the characters from Swordspoint were never so crass? The ending was even worse because it pretty much undid everything the whole novel had built, so the reader feels as disappointed as the supporting characters. I'm curious to see how the next novel, due out in July 2006 I believe, turns out because it's set 40 years after Swordspoint and 20 years before Kings. I found a brief description that said it was about the story of Katherine, the Duchess of Tremontaine and Theron's cousin in Kings, and I have a fear that Katherine is going to be some type of Mary Sue.
To do list: look to see if there's a fandom out there for Kushner's books (highly doubtful, but you never know what you can find online these days), sort thoughts on Swordspoint, and check out Thomas the Rymer by Kushner, even though it has nothing to do with her Riverside books.