Again? Yes, again. Technically, my wife was supposed to reread it too, but I don’t think she get round to it… Still, I reread it, and I’m very happy I did, because it really doesn’t lose anything with multiple reads. If anything, it’s easier to get into, easier to remember who is who and what motivates them, and especially easier to get along with the invented language and be attuned to the way formality works.
I don’t think there’s anything new I’ve got to say about this, so I’ll just appreciate all over again the cleverness of the language and world-building; the fact that this feels like a lived in world with history and a future, with science and innovation and politics all moving under the surface. It’s also such a human (ironically, I suppose) approach, because there’s so many people with feelings and conflicting loyalties and differing views of how Maia should rule.
And the thing I appreciate most of all is the way that Maia is a good person, but it takes effort: he has to remind himself that baiting Setheris, even now he can, is a poisonous pleasure — that revenge isn’t something an ethical ruler can indulge in. He struggles with the burden he’s taken up, but he never honestly considers giving it to someone else, at least not someone unprepared. He tries to be polite, he tries to make even the smallest person in the court feel wanted — in fact, does better with those people than the people who have an inflated sense of their own importance.
I just love the way Maia gathers affection and loyalty by being himself and not compromising, and the way he’s so tired and strained but he makes himself keep learning and keep trying.