I finished a book in the tub this morning, my favorite place for reading, the water and the warmth conducive to a more easy transition from the printed word to the world within my head painted by the author. However, no amount of water or warmth or bubble bath could keep me from heaving a very large sigh and an eyeroll that nearly gave me an eye-strain-induced headache. Oh Robin, dear Ms. McKinley, have I only gotten more jaded in my age? Or have you just slid down the slope of long-established writer who will not depart from comfortable formulas and writing styles?
A beekeeper lives out in the wood keeping up her property and tending to bees. Ho hum. Then she earns some title known as Chalice which is a magico-political position where her job is to keep the country from getting all fed up with bad political leaders and giving them a fault-line spanking.
She meets with the new Master who is replacing his older brother who caused ruckuses, raped the women, pillaged the villages…well, I don’t know if he did all that because Robin is very very VAGUE. With all details. Everywhere. Master is made of hot lava because he is a priest of Fire.
And then there’s a long story about bees and honey and binding the land and marrying the wrong guy and…*sigh*
Can I lay it on the level with you? This was juvenile writing at its best. I am no mistress of the written word, that’s clear enough from my blog but I could still find extreme dissatisfaction with the latest of Ms. McKinley’s offering. She took no time to develop the characters. She was clumsy with putting what was in her head onto the paper, hence everything was vague. She frequently interrupted her sentences and ideas with hyphens and it was hardly anything necessary interrupting those thoughts. There was little point to many of the actions that her characters went through. Things were untidy, loose ends left loose to unravel and the conclusion was irritating in the lack of actually being any sort of conclusion at all. She would have done better to use the “rocks fall, everyone dies” sort of ending if that was what she had to offer.
In contrast, prior to Chalice, I finished –
WarBreaker by Brandon Sanderson
I am always a little hesitant with reading something with teensy text, pages as thin as air and about 10,000 of them. Some people are longwinded without actually saying anything. However, Brandon is long-winded and FASCINATING.
It started with the very classic tale of Three Sisters. The eldest bears the responsibility of political importance, the second decides to follow the ways of piety and the youngest is the one with no ties to family and full of spunk and adventure. Until a sudden twist causes her to change positions with her eldest sister and is shipped off to be made the wife of a larger empire.
If you are looking for stories with very strong women, Mr. Sanderson has what you seek. No, the characters are not perfect and these are no Xena: Warrior Princesses. These are ladies who are flawed, confused, used to different lifes and yet they pick themselves up and make the best of their situations. His characters are all very warm, likeable, and real.
As for plot, Mr. Sanderson is very clearly, well, a geek. And I mean that in good terms, like Alton Brown is a geek. He has the most involved magic system and he doesn’t just present it and hope you just accept it, it has its own science. It has justification, it is almost as if it is a character as well with its own role to play via the others.
Mr. Sanderson knows how to present everything with reason. He knows how to make his ideas clear on the page and he may be longwinded but it never gets dull or frustrating.
I’m considering picking up the first part of the Moribito duo now. I don’t often read books that are translated from other places and Japanese is a first (usually it’s French to English). But the anime has a very intriguing plot with characters that have their own appeal. I might really enjoy this.