Merry Christmas (or whichever holiday you and yours celebrate at this time of year). I’m currently hanging out at my in-laws’ house while William expends the last of his day’s energy on the year’s toy haul. After that, I get to handle bedtime, as usual. Let’s see if I can get this written before my intervention is required…
I had a really productive weekend. In all, I added 12,500 words to my current draft of Kingmaker‘s sequel of the course of three days. Most of that was revision or rework – scenes I had already written but that were in the wrong order in the story – but I did a pretty hefty amount of writing, too. I’m now past the place where I got stuck previously, and I have a pretty clear idea of what needs to happen between now and the end of the book. The length is looking to be much longer than I ever dreamed this story would require – possibly even longer than Lesson of the Fire was, and that made no pretense of being aimed at younger readers. Matt might trim that down on the next go-around, but it might simply be that the story needs to be longer. Certainly it is more complicated than the book that preceded it, which didn’t delve as deeply into subplots.
It’s a work in progress, but it is certainly coming along, and I hope to get a good chunk of work done on it during our ten days of travel and holiday festivities.
I finished reading Assassin’s Quest (by Robin Hobbs), yesterday. Some spoilers for that book and the two that precede it in the trilogy ahead. I’m enjoying this author’s work. Where she really shines is in getting deep inside her characters’ heads and in inventing complications that make sense and yet remain entirely unexpected. I remember thinking to myself when I set the book down on Wednesday that I had a couple suspicions about some of the things that would come into play, but I really had no idea how it would end. I even had a conversation with Beth (who read these books years ago – long enough ago to have written an awesome trio of songs about the trilogy in the same world that follows it) that evening in which I said I could see no way that the book wasn’t going to end without resolving a few loose ends. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it actually wraps everything up nicely – both as a book and as a trilogy.
It is a solidly epic fantasy series, and while it doesn’t have the complete disregard for the lives of its heroes that made A Song of Ice and Fire (and its TV adaptation) famous, Hobb comes up with some really clever complications and resolutions to them. Sometimes it’s clear that Fitz is doing something absolutely stupid that is certain to fail (like when he decides that his only course of action is to assassinate the king even though he has neither resources, help, nor even a germ of a plan). In some cases it seems like things will work out the way he imagines it, but Hobb kindly drops us enough hints to the contrary that it isn’t jarring when they don’t (like how when Buridge and Molly believe Fitz is dead and take up living together to care for Fitz’s daughter, somehow that could *gasp* blossom into a romantic relationship). The whole “a man dying on the horns of a stone dragon causes it to stir closer to life” line of inquiry was one of those things that I was pretty certain would be critically important later, but Hobb performed a sleight of hand routine for so long that it almost had me convinced that she had dropped the plot to save it for a later story. Regal’s real scheme should have been obvious (there’s even an outright “Fitz tells us it was obvious to him when looking back” section in the framework story), but I didn’t realize it until way late in the book. It was interesting how the body swapping was foretold by the queen’s earlier comment that Fitz was a comely youth, and that whole bit leaves me wondering that more isn’t made of the fact that Fitz is still the biological father of Verity’s son. I’ll admit that I was tickled by the “failed” plot to poison the soldiers sent to capture him, only to discover that he had succeeded after all (an entertaining reversal of the author’s more common preference for frustrating expectations by introducing unexpected complications to an otherwise serviceable plan).
In the end, Hobb really didn’t waste any of the pieces at her disposal. Pretty close to every concept and every interesting character plays some role in the conclusion. Probably my favorite was the vengeful ferret’s victory, although Fitz’s final handling of Regal was at once poetic and kinda terrifyingly awful. Of course, the same could be said about Verity’s final request of Fitz, because yikes.
Next up is Stephen Erikson’s Memories of Ice, the third book of his Malazan Book of the Fallen series. Now for something completely different, in other words. I’m sure I’ll come back to Hobb sooner rather than later. Her particular style of story braiding is actually quite close to what Matt and I favor for the books in our own world. For now, however, I have a small child to coax into falling asleep.