Thursday, June 28, 2012

Shades of Milk and Honey

In an attempt to step away from continuing to rant (futilely) about a certain video game's conclusion, I decided it would be useful to talk about writing that I do like.  Yesterday I mentioned one of my favorite podcasts, Writing Excuses, and thought it would be fun to talk about the most recent book I have read by one of those podcasters.

I picked up Shades of Milk and Honey, by Mary Robinette Kowal, two or three weeks ago.  The underlying premise is "what if Jane Austen wrote a book that also involved magic?"

I will freely admit that I am not quite as well read when it comes to Jane Austen literature, but from what little I have been exposed to it feels like Mary has done an excellent job in evoking the feel for that era.

Jane Austen used certain character archetypes in such a way that, once I recognized a character filling that role in this book I worried that things would get stale.  Once you figure out who the dishonest rogue is, you know roughly how the various characters connected to him will react.  Thankfully that fear was baseless.  While Mary has done quite a bit to call up the tone and ambiance of that era, she doesn't rely on it as a crutch to excuse poor plotting or bad characterization.

The characters all have their own motivations, which are rarely what they initially appear to be.  And the magic system she has devised is fascinating to think about, especially given the established rules regarding what it can and can not do.

By the time I finished reading this book, I was anxious to see how events progressed for these wonderful characters that Mary has crafted.  Thankfully Glamour in Glass is already out.  I just need to buy it now.

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