Kris’ New Year’s Readolution 3!
When you take into account the books I’ve reviewed for Wave, I’ve actually met my readolution for March by discussing Rick R Reed’s A Face Without A Heart and Sean Kennedy’s Tigers and Devils. However, since I’m so awesome – and modest 😉 – I decided I’d make the challenge specific to my blog… for this month anyway. *g*
Okay, I might be cheating a little because I have already read a book this author co-wrote and talked about ithere, but it’s my first from her proper and, well, I’ve been busy dammit.
Mélusine by Sarah Monette
A dashing and highly respected wizard, Felix Harrowgate thought he had eluded his dark past. Within the walls of the Mirador—Mélusine’s citadel of power and magic—Felix believed he was free of his abusive former master, a wizard who had enslaved him, body and soul, and trained him to pass as a nobleman. He was wrong.
Raised as a kept-thief and trained as an assassin, Mildmay the Fox is used to being hunted. Having slipped his Keeper long ago, he survives as a cat burglar—until he’s caught by a mysterious magician using a powerful calling charm. And yet the magician was looking not for Mildmay—but for Felix Harrowgate…
Bound by fate, the broken wizard Felix and the wanted killer Mildmay will journey far from Mélusine through lands thick with strange magics and terrible demons of darkness—but it is the secret from their pasts that will either save them or destroy them…
I admit it. I am completely intimidated by the idea of reviewing fantasy novels like this. (Again) I’m going to refer to a couple of other sites – Ana and Thea’s review at Fantasy Cafe and Orannia’s at her blog, Walkabout – so those interested can see what better ladies than I thought of the book.
Having said that, two things which struck me the most about Mélusine were the world-building and the characterisation.
Like A Companion to Wolves, the world the author has created is both unique and thorough. I didn’t find it overwhelming, which can often happen in a first-time novel. Instead the construction was just enough to provide the context for the past and current lives of the main characters, to progress the plot and to also lay the ground work for future books in the series.
The characterisation was without doubt very good. This was assisted by the format of the book; being in the first person POV with alternate sections done from the perspectives of Mildmay and Felix. This is not style of which I am a fan and it has a tendency to make me feel schizofictiony. However, I found my rhythm and was caught up by the author’s skill and the development of the protags. About them…
I seem to have anti-heroes on the brain and Mildmay and Felix fit the roles nicely. With one being an impostor and former prostitute and the other a thief and assassin, the two men are not nice at all. Mildmay was, I thought, the more likeable and engaging of the two whereas Felix… what to say?? Definitely not a sympathetic character, yet he was strangely tragic. Broken by his master, he is thrown into insanity. The scenes in the book that deal with this are very evocative; colourful, dramatic, terrifying and full of imagery.
It came as a total surprise to discover yet another fantasy character (Felix) who is gay. The approach to homosexuality reminded me in many ways of that taken in The Steel Remains (discussed here), which is not romantic or necessarily relationship driven, but used to give the reader further insight into the protag. It was convincing.
Last, but by no means least, Mélusine is the dark fantasy genre at its finest. Complex themes, ambiguous characters, and a richly crafted – albeit shadowy and dangerous – world. I love this genre. Think The Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop and you will be on the right track.
If you like dark fantasy and anti-heroes, I think you will definitely enjoy Mélusine. The next book in this series, The Virtu, is already on my tbb list.