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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 18 July 2013
In the world founded on The Deep, the hand you are dealt in life is more than just a metaphor, and you must learn fast if you want to stay in the game.

Well, it's just about science fictional enough, but in many ways this is a fantasy allegory and there's more Game of Thrones here than the cover betrays. It's all about about the grapples for power between two noble houses in a medieval fantasy setting, while mysterious assassins and outlanders also threaten the kingdom. Amid the intrigue, a sexless, inhuman visitor appears; he is your traditional SF trope, the alien observer, but has no idea of his mission. The Visitor, bereft of purpose, becomes embroiled in the turbulent politics of the world he has been sent to observe, all the while trying desperately to recover his lost memories.

It's a short read, with a nice twist that reminded me of To Your Scattered Bodies Go, but I didn't race through it; Crowley's prose is often poetic, but occasionally impenetrable; there were several paragraphs I had to re-read, and a couple that I couldn't make sense of. In the end, this tale was underwhelming; the action was exciting enough, but while the symbolism is straightforward, I felt that there was some allegorical subtext that I wasn't getting and, worse, I also felt like I'd guessed the whole "mystery" by the end of the first chapter.
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on 18 August 2014
This demanding debut tries to be fantasy and SF at the same time. The fantasy plot is set on a world supported by a pillar that goes into 'The Deep' and consists of the struggles for power and multi-faction in-fighting of the sort that is in every fantasy novel you've ever got bored with. The fact that the writing itself is often dense and impenetrable and the characters have very similar names doesn't help much.

Into this fantasy comes the Visitor - an android that appears in the first chapter from who knows where (I never figured that out) and becomes embroiled in the political in-fighting. Only towards the end - which I couldn't give away if I wanted to as it lost me completely - does the SF element of the story enter. But that's not done particularly well, as there's little clarity in the writing.

I enjoyed Little, Big and have become intrigued by the Aegypt cycle, but this admittedly slim novel is so confusing I couldn't wait to put it down.
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