Gladstone, Max: (02) Two Serpents Rise

The next book in Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence, Two Serpents Rise, is apparently set a couple years before Three Parts Dead, though that’s not evident from what’s on the pages so far. Unfortunately I didn’t like it as much, because it focuses fairly tightly on a guy, Caleb, who spends most of the book doing foolish things because he was instantly attracted to a mysterious and dangerous woman—who calls herself Mal, even—which I found pretty boring. Even the lampshading of his foolishness in the form of his awesome best friend pointing it out doesn’t help. (I love her, but I wish there hadn’t been a point where I thought, “Oh. That’s why she’s a lesbian,” because I liked it so much better when she just was for no particular reason other than that people are.)

So that was kind of hard on my engagement with the story. However, I do like that the books so far have focused, plot-wise, on city infrastructure (the problem here is water supply) and on different ways of dealing with religion, though I feel like the balance of the treatment of the latter was possibly not quite as strong as in the first book. Hard to say, though, when I freely concede that I wasn’t giving it my full attention.

I will definitely read the third one, however, which is out shortly, though probably not until after I finish the rest of my Hugo & Campbell voting homework (since it’s not being published during Gladstone’s eligibility period).

(Also: welcome to the latest iteration of this booklog, now running on WordPress instead of a two-versions-old Movable Type install. I hope that the shiny new digs will make it easier for me to actually post, as well as reducing the amount of spam I have to deal with. Please don’t hesitate to let me know if anything isn’t working or if anything could be improved. Thanks!)

(I will also now be announcing new posts on Twitter, if you’d prefer that to RSS.)

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  1. I’m in the middle of Two Serpents Rise, and so far I’m liking the city of Dresediel Lex better than the city of Alt Coulomb, but the main cast of Three Parts Dead better.

    I also noticed that the description accompanying the use of water faucets in Serpents — a stinging feeling a bit of one’s soul is taken to pay for the service — sheds a bit of light on a scene in Parts, where Tara’s fingers sting when Abelard takes his cigarette back from her.

  2. Caleb’s Mal-related motivations are SO boring. ;___; I don’t understand why we are ever supposed to find ‘people do stupid things because obvious femme fatales are hot’ interesting. I was way more interested in Caleb-and-his-dad, and then he took a much less interesting route with that, too.

  3. Avram, I hadn’t noticed that as a thing that needed explanation, I’ll have to look!

    Becca, ugh, and daddy issues on top of all that too, yes indeed.

  4. I just finished Serpents, and I see what you mean about Teo’s sexual orientation. At least Kopil got to be gay just for the sake of being gay. (Or maybe bi.)

    I’m hoping Gladstone figures out how to write a climax that doesn’t require having his characters explain it to the reader afterwards.

  5. Both glad and sorry the Teo thing came across that way to you, too.

    I admit I’ve kind of forgotten the climax of this one already, except for one key action by Teo, so I can’t speak to that.

  6. I am impressed by how well your WordPress port resembles the old version.

  7. Thanks! I did change the accent colors from dark red to dark blue, as well as some other things, but I wanted to preserve the overall feel and I’m glad I did.

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