The Bone Palace is a better book than the first one, I think; more of the characters were compelling to me, and the magic all felt like it fit together better. Isyllt’s magic didn’t fit, somehow, with the world of river spirits and djinn, with the desert magic and the heat. Which makes sense: she’s out of her own world there.
It’s hard to glimpse whether there’s a larger story behind the politics and magic — it feels like there should be; there’s plenty of history and geography underlying the world. But it’s hard to tell where it’s going. When I last read it, the third book wasn’t out, so that might solve some of my questions. But the first two books together feel odd; not quite the same story, not even quite about the same characters. Isyllt’s a main character in both, but Savedra steals this one entirely.
I love the magic, love the history, love Savedra. The only thing I’m not sure about is, again, some of the cultural stuff. For instance, Savedra is trans; the story uses the term hijra, which fits badly with the Russian-sounding words floating around, the Greek names, and which might not even fit with the actual concept of hijra in our world. I can imagine people being annoyed that hijra in Downum’s world are mostly prostitutes, for example.
All the same, I love Savedra — the complex relationship between her and Nikos and Ashlin, the fact that she’s a royal concubine and she navigates that world so carefully and protects her loved ones, while not feeling brave or strong. She just does what she has to do, for Nikos and Ashlin, for her family. And it works. Isyllt and Kiril? I don’t hate that relationship, but it just doesn’t breathe for me like Vedra’s life.
I first read this ages ago, and quickly followed it up with the second book, but then didn’t get onto reading the third book. So I felt like I needed to refresh my memory. The first book wasn’t my favourite, and I still think the second is probably stronger, but the idea of a spy necromancer running around fomenting rebellion remains pretty darn cool. The cultures are a little bit… umm. They feel like very obvious analogues. But I give Guy Gavriel Kay a pass for that, so Amanda Downum can have it too — and mostly her mythology hangs together and everything works, so that’s fine.
Issylt is a pretty awesome main character, though her relationship with Kiril still… doesn’t entirely make sense to me, and I don’t feel like I can root for her to actually get what she wants in that regard. He’s older than her, and they probably shouldn’t have been in a relationship at all. Still, there’s something to be said also for her perspective that it’s her decision, and he shouldn’t shelter her from the consequences of it. People do that with women, real and fictional, far too often.
Zhivrin is less appealing as a character, but her arc works well, and her ending has a perfect bittersweetness. I love how it’s foreshadowed, as well. Xinai, well, I feel like she more or less got what was coming to her — I can sympathise to some extent with anger at imperialism and the damage it can do, but I don’t understand fighting back against that at any cost. Particularly not when the cost is your own people.
Both times I’ve read this book, I’ve finished it in almost one sitting, so that’s something else to be said for it. But now, onwards!
Is it Saturday again already? Whoa. I’ve been catching up on blog stuff all this week, thanks to the readathon — which is not a complaint.
I have finally got round to writing a review of The Buried Life, which will be up soon; Cities and Thrones is the sequel. You can still check out Carrie’s post here from her blog tour for The Buried Life, too! I got The Eye of Strife via LibraryThing; I’ve been meaning to read Dave Duncan for ages, so this should be interesting.
I’ve been interested in Sword for a while, so I picked it as my win in one of the readathon giveaways. <3 Dreams of the Golden Age was my pick for another win; that hasn’t arrived yet, which is probably good, because I need to reread After the Golden Age, and I think my partner has my copy.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone and The Drowning City are both rereads, to get me back up to speed for the next book in the series/trilogy. Crown of Midnight is obvious, since I just read Throne of Glass (but I’m sorry, I just don’t love it as much as some of you guys seem to). I have The Deadly Sisterhood somewhere, but goodness knows where. And I just like Susanna Kearsley.
Quite a contrast there between the covers, heh. I reaaally need to actually read the issues of Silk I have… I’ve been tearing through Kowal’s series lately, just in time for this last book. I’m excited!
I usually prefer to listen to audiobooks I’ve already read for myself, hence Among Others and Rivers of London (the latter of which I’d like to refresh my memory on anyway); Epigenetics: How Environment Shapes Our Genes is a new one for me, which I couldn’t really resist because epigenetics! Non-fiction! Science!
How’s everyone else been doing? Behaving yourselves?