Monday, June 21, 2010

19th June - The King’s Bastard: Book one of Chronicles of King Rolen’s Kin – the first 300 pages

Holidays are curious things.  I must admit that, despite my profession, I had forgotten what it was like to lose an afternoon to a particularly enthralling book.  Perhaps because of my profession, such discoveries have been made more difficult.  There are few authors it seems, these days, who can hold my attention when washing, vacuuming, general tidying and work-related matters often override my immersion.  Barbara Hambly is one.  Joe Abercrombie is another.  I’m happy to say Rowena Cory Daniells has joined them, and single-handedly convinced me that I need to spend more time reading.

I have tried writing novels – far from never getting started, I usually get my story out, only to discover that my narrative has become distressingly short.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I have no patience for the middle.  Let me write the beginning and the end and I’ll be happy.  It’s gratifying to see, however, that other people don’t suffer from my admitted lack of patience.

Robin Hobb’s Liveship Traders series is one that follows numerous characters through some occasionally mundane tasks, yet never gets boring.  David Eddings’ The Elenium and The Tamuli enthralled me years ago with their epic quests on which so much happened.  With The King’s Bastard, when I went to relate the first four chapters to my boyfriend, I was talking for 20 minutes straight.

This, from my point of view, is an excellent compliment.  200 pages have flown by since then, and this evening I considered taking the book with me to the after dinner entertainment.  So much happens, and yet all of it relevant, that it feels like a more witty action movie, filled with intrigue and political agendas, but enough danger to keep the tension humming along as a counterpoint.

There are also extra points for mythical creatures, a type of banned and sometimes reviled magic, excellent sword fights and daring escapes, all bundled into a world that is not only fascinating, but alive.  It reminds me of the tone of The Princess Bride, save that this is an epic of two brothers, bound into a tragic fate that has only, so far, been hinted at.  And that is where my true amazement lies – nothing terrible has happened… yet.  There have been some minor issues, people’s spouses getting killed, that sort of thing, but for the vast majority, our main characters have remained unscathed.  That worries me.  And I’m thrilled that I’m worried!  How did this happen?  When?  But I’m trying very hard to appreciate the book for what it is – an introduction to a world I desperately want to know more about – without letting analysis sap my enjoyment by dissecting the emotions that arise with each new chapter.  There’s always another day for analysis.  Right now is for reading.

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