Friday, December 04, 2015

Friday Round-Up: Fletcher & Elliott @SFFWorld, October Mind Meld @SFSignal

Been a while since I rounded up my links o’ stuff, so this is going to be a longer post than usual but it has been a bit hectic at the o’ Stuff with the new (as of August) job with the big biannual meeting for my group falling squarely in the middle of the month.

The “oldest” thing since my last round-up is my review of Michael R. Fletcher’s Beyond Redemption, which might be the grimdarkiest grimdark novel to ever grimdark.

In Michael R. Fletcher’s Beyond Redemption, dreams, desires, and imagination manifest as reality and the unhinged are the most powerful, affecting the world most profoundly. Others can affect it in a more personal manner. For example, the character of Wichtig deems himself the Greatest Swordsman in the World. The more he says this, the more he believes it and gets others to believe it, the more true it becomes to the point an opponent refuses to fight Wichtig because of how Wichtig’s belief in himself has affected other people. At the apex of this world is the Konig Furimmer, high priest of the Geborene Damonen, a mad ruler who argues with his Doppels (magically created doubles) about his sanity and rule. Konig has one mad plan above all, to create a new God as all other gods have fallen out of favor. The key to Konig’s plan is that this boy – Morgen – must generate enough belief in his power and die purely so he can Ascend to god-hood.

Fletcher’s world has a very heavy Germanic influence, each of the titles and many of the proper names are evocative of the German language if not outright German worlds. There’s a thick layer of grime on Fletcher’s world that permeates everything, there is nothing nice or pretty about it. Even the young godling, initially idealistic, becomes a dark reflection of the world he inhabits. This evoked images of a world where, perhaps, Nazi Germany reigned over a continent it nearly destroyed, especially with the Konig’s far reaching plan of dominance. The plan to create a new God immediately drew comparisons toDune in my mind.

The very next day, my Mind Meld for November was posted, wherein I asked Andrew Leon Hudson, Stephenie Sheung (AKA @MMOGC), Richard Shealy (AKA @SheckyX), Michael R. Fletcher, Mark Yon, and Erin Lindsey the following question:

Most recently (this week), my review of Kate Elliott’s Black Wolves, a book that was high on my list of anticipated titles and one that exceeded my expectations:

Kate Elliott’s Black Wolves launches a new series; a grand, sweeping epic featuring a fracturing dynasty beset by outside challenges and inside strife; committed honor-bound soldiers coming out of retirement; demons lurking behind the guises of humans; and maybe best of all, a force of protectors who bond with large eagles to protect the realm. At the center of this epic are Dannarah, princess and leader among those who bond to the eagles, and Kellas, a Black Wolf who has retired from his duty (mainly because the kings he protected are dead).

Black Wolves is a novel that is both remarkably dense (700+ pages), but deceptively fast paced and addictively readable. Elliott props societal structures either to polish them anew or dismantle them for their failings. Through Dannarah’s eyes, we see how problematic an organization can become when an inept organization can become when blind pride gets in the way. She is supremely devoted to the reves and sees power being unjustly pulled from underneath her and from what the eagles and the reves exemplify. When she is present for an injustice about to be perpetrated on Lifka, Dannarah does all in her power to save the girl and (literally) bring her under her wing.
the prevailing fantastical elements….well, the enormous eagles of course. There’s a bond between the reve (rider) and eagle that is not dissimilar to the dragon/rider relationship in Anne McCaffrey’s Pern novels. The eagles “jess” potential reves to choose their rider and the two form a powerful lifetime bond (also similar to Naomi Novik’s dragons and their riders in her Temeraire series). There are also demons in this fully realized world although their true nature demons is somewhat muddled as they are secretive, hide behind human guises and are initially presented as enemies of humanity, but the hints peppered throughout the novel have me very intrigued about their true nature.

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