Thursday, August 30, 2012

Cheeky Bloodbaths

The Legacy of Lord Regret, Sam Bowring
This is Book 1 of 2. Isn't a dualogy refreshing?  There's also no hiding the fact that I fancy the way the pair's spines form a striking, single silhouette image when placed side by side.

Onward -- to the content!
  • I was immediately struck by Bowring's writing style -- it is more fluid and modern, and less arduous and Tolkienesque -- having spent some time in the detail-heavy worlds of Rothfuss, Cooper and Canavan, of late, the contrast was marked and the relief was great.  I needed me some Bowring, even if I am looking forward to returning to the Black Magician series soon.  Please don't misunderstand,  the descriptions are creative, vivid and effective...it's just not...well...constipated.   As in Orson Scott Card, there is enough description, and the narrative momentum reigns over the painstaking painting of a scene.
  • Overall, the story is thrilling.
  • Also, clever.
  • There is this air of daring in the novel -- the laws of magic, the characters' power, and the confident plunge into a 300-year-old story -- all invigorating.
  • And the core team of legendary wardens are lent legend status, credibility and depth as a result of this plunge -- the spontaneous and early resurrection of characters is one of the daring + invigorating devices I loved about this book.
  • The characters are diverse in nature and serve as epicenters for engrossing spectacles. 
  • The villains are certainly warped individuals, and we do spend time with them -- an editorial choice that can get my skin crawling if not kept in careful check -- but I think Bowring has managed to strike a fine balance between the scenes with the sick and depraved antagonists and those spent with our heroes.  He also masterfully portrays wickedness without calling upon our sympathies.
  • The grotesque descriptions of battle scenes and villain assualts are certaintly not for the faint of heart.  If you've seen the movie Stardust (I haven't read Gaiman's novel by the same name), I found The Legacy of Lord Regret resonates with the same comic-fantasy.  Dead bodies as puppets -- sure! It's not so much gross as jaw-dropping awesome.  To take such comparisons further, the violence is framed in a way that reminds me of V for Vendetta -- bloody but not horrifying.  It really is an odd and marvellous thing.
  • Sensuality is explicitly referenced, and used to characterise villains -- one of the key things I disliked about Trinity Rising. Although less subjective and nauseating than Cooper's work, Bowring still employed this fallback a little more than I needed; subtlety can speak volumes too.
  • Another nitpick: What's he doin' repeatedly using "them" as a singular term?  Hmmm?
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