a sort of sideways sequel to havemercy, better written and better planned out: still bears it's slashfic roots proudly, still won't pass bechdell test for love or money, but also is immensely readable and enjoyable: i've devoured it in a day and wouldn't mind rereading some day. does the two storylines, four povs thing again: caius and alcibiades do the 'manic trixter and his straight man' thing and mamore with kouje go on sort of frodo-and-sam like loyalty quest (guess which one i loved more), and their lines all twist and turn together, and meanwhile the empire's fate gets decided. it's relationship rather than plot-driven, and watching them all spark off each other is pretty fascinating. caius with alcibiades' storyline unfolds more gracefully; mamoru with kouje's gets rushed and partially unresolved in the end, which is a great pity; it draws heavily on benkei and minamoto yoshimoto legend (to the point of cleverly namedropping it once, even), but sort of drops one of the crucial moments of it and forgets it without explanation. i also really loved the descriptions of ke-han the defeated empire, both from defeaters' and defeated sides, clash of customs and explanations, the way amorphous creepy enemy of the first book got humanized and given a face - this is one of the best strengths of the book, and it works well.
her books always give me such a feeling of weight, of something squeezing the breath out of me, and this one is the heaviest so far, i think: the terrible loneliness of it, the suffocating confines of a little island where everybody knows everyone and there's no space for any difference, the jealousy, the terrible, heavy want to be loved, to be known. i loved how there was no catharsis, no magical moment of being right with the world, just sort of grim, terrified hanging on until managing to let yourself go, finally, for your sake and not others'. i'm not quite sure how to feel about the ending, about recreating the same closed-off space you ran from - though it probably says more about me than sarah - and would it be enough, and would her own children be telling same story sometime down the line - but even so, getting there was a relief, an exhale: she survived herself. what's more to ask?
liked it less than previous, since we moved to long stretches of traveling/descriptions/suspence with short bursts of action, but it's still lovely and low-key angsty, and main relationship continues to steadily evolve. and i keep _really_ liking laurence; i love low-key, duty-bound heroes with effortless and quiet dignity.
i'm quite convinced that dwj of 'howl's walking castle' and dwj of pretty much everything else are two different authors, because i can't explain why howl delights me and all other books leave in various states of meh otherwise. this said, this one was reasonably fun and easy to read, and didn't sent me into throes of irrational, teeth-grinding irritation like that one with griffons did. abdullah was nice, flattering speeches were funny, plot was reasonably twisty, if leaning on Sudden Revelations too heavily. i could live without subplot of abdullah being set up to marry two distant relative ladies of his and being repulsed by how, gasp, fat they were (detailed, horrified description) and then him marrying them to malevolent jinn and sending them to live with said jinn into magical exile without so much as stopping to consider their consent or the overall creepiness of this idea. i mean, what? what?
wow, i so didn't expect to like these series as much as i did. smallq recced them to me ages ago and i kept putting and putting them off until finally giving in, and really, i should've gave in way earlier. it unfolds a pretty complex, solid, increasingly creepy world, with a system that starts out seeming a bit silly and ends up being completely logical and more and more unsettling, and watching all the little and big details make one big picture is pretty fascinating. and if you, like me, prefer characters to setting, you have tally, the flawed and sympathetic teenage protagonist with a spot-on voice, and watching her drag herself out of this shiny brave new world, through friendship and betrayals and falling in and out of love and learning the price of the most benevolent lying and getting through mostly on the sheer desire to never stop, never submit to somebody else's idea of her - well, as she says it, Sometimes it felt like her life was a series of falls from ever-greater heights. - from start to the finish. she grows up, and the process is harsh and unforgiving, and watching her keep the sense of self (not so easy in the world where they... okay, i'm actually not going to spoil this, even in review with spoilers), and watching her win feels like a victory.with all that, i fell in love with these books after tally's first journey into the wild - westerfield's writing is beautiful and sparse, and the world he describes, empty cities overrun with nature, giant, echoing, living space with nobody around, the way every journey ends up being about a world so big and her so small, and also about traveling back to herself, again and again and again - oh, yeah. and second thing would be tally and shay, her first friend who becomes the catalyst of the whole thing; i was vary of what was going with her in the second book, because it looked like she was set up as a failed counterpart to tally succeeding, but all turned out well - she climbed same scary steps out, just from another sides, and the whole story turned out, in a way, to be about them, about their tangle of friendship-betrayal-love-hate, and some moments of it - As Tally tuned her suit, trying to match the color of Shay's, her head still spun with wild energy. "You came for me," she said, trying to keep her voice low."I couldn't let them do this to you.""But I thought you hated me.""I hate you sometimes, Tally. Like I've never hated anybody else before." Shay snorted. "Maybe that's why I keep coming back for you." - yes, and thank you, and more please.fourth book is set further in the timeline, with different characters operating in the world tally and her friends and enemies made, and it's definitely lighter in tone and easier on consequences, but it also makes a perfect resolving point for both world and characters, and also has a proper, no hooks hidden happy ending, so it's a must-read. and also the reputation-based system is hilarious and a little bit disturbing and also completely spot on, and not to be missed.
how to rebuild the world, or actually how to build the world from the scratch, and make it better. he keeps... he keeps taking obvious, right things and making them new and fresh and solid. something that you should give children to read, i think, before everybody else. so much love.
basically, o'brien lite with dragons, which is, i must say, and awesome genre. i like laurence a lot, and his transition from navy to corps, mostly because i love books exploring some rigid structures (navy rules, etiquette) and people who live in those structures, always aware of them and still manage to stay flexible enough to get and incorporate new ideas. plus laurence and temeraire's codependent familial bond warms my heart and reminds me of early pern books; oh jacksom and ruth, i miss you both.