Look, a book I liked!
I went looking for Goblin Moon, by Teresa Edgerton, after a positive review of the sequel by Rich Boyé (whose booklog has vanished into 404 oblivion). This is a fantasy of the Regency-with-magic sort, though unlike Patricia Wrede’s Mairelon the Magician and Magician’s Ward, this is set in an imaginary world rather than in an alternate history, if that makes sense.
I really enjoyed this, not the least for its setting. I can’t possibly have liked every fantasy with either a courtly or a city setting, but at the moment, I’m not thinking of a strong counterexample. This book has both, one for each plot thread: on the courtly side, there’s something strange about the afflictions of a sickly society girl; on the city side, a sorceror’s coffin washes up, leading a pair of old friends back into dangerous experiments.
Therein lies the major flaw of the book: it suffers from the “A Plot, B Plot” problem. There are some connections between the two plots, but the main one seems to be that their convergence forces our protagnoists to flee the country at the end of the book, setting up the sequel. It’s possible that this book and its sequel, The Gnome’s Engine, are actually tightly woven together and thus the A and B plots end up being part of the same plot; I don’t know, because I haven’t read the sequel yet. I should add that except for the minor fact of fleeing the country, the book is reasonably well-contained.
The two plots are enjoyable, revealing their information and world-building at a good pace. And the characters populating those plots are good too: not stunningly original, but solidly drawn and engaging. This book is also further proof that I really do have a weakness for Lymond-types (in fiction only, I hasten to add); this one gets off most of the best lines, like
“Lord Skelbrooke . . . what a turn you gave me,” said the little apothecary, but a mischievous twinkle indicated that she had seen through his disguise immediately. “Might one ask what this . . . astounding costume . . . is supposed to portend?”
“Bad men, ill deeds, and (if I am successful) vengeance of no mean order,” said Skelbrooke.
Actually, when I typed that, I heard the Dread Pirate Roberts in my head, but it’s still a great line. There’s also:
“I have killed scores of men,” said Skelbrooke. “And there used to be a practice, among wild young men of good family, to ride the Imbrian countryside in the guise of highwaymen, and rob carriages and mail coaches . . . merely for the thrill of the thing.”
The Duchess was smiling now, a warm intimate smile. He was not certain whether she believed him or not, but at least he was keeping her amused.
“Heavens above!” said the Duchess. “I believe that I have fallen into the hands of a rascal. And tell me this . . . among your other vices, have you perhaps experimented with . . . the more intricate forms of sexual dalliance?”
Skelbrooke shook his head. “You see, I am not yet five and twenty,” he said apologetically. “I thought it wise to save something for later in life, lest I grow too soon bored.”
I just had fun reading this book. I look forward to seeing Skelbrooke, and the rest of our protagonists, in the sequel.
[ And then I will re-read Sorcery and Cecilia in honor of its being reprinted and because it’s also Regency-with-magic; and then I’ll read the Sector General omnibus with the only Sector General novel I haven’t read yet; and then I finally found a copy of The Element of Fire at a reasonable price (yay! But Patrick, if you’re reading this, I still think Tor should re-print it), so I’ll re-read that in celebration; and then there’s the sequel to Deep Secret and the new Bill Bryson; and at the pace I’ve been reading lately, I won’t be through these before the new Harry Potter comes out . . . I’ve pretty well got my reading planned out through the summer. *wists for the days when this list would be two weeks’ worth of reading* ]
[ Also, prompted by certain discussions, I’ve finally got around to trying an RSS feed with just the title of the post. Let’s see if it works. ]