Top positive review
56 people found this helpful
An utterly compelling mix of darkness and light!
on 20 July 2001
This novel transfixed me from start to finish! The complex and delicately interwoven plot moves smoothly through philosophical insights, emotional turmoil and, despite the dark overtones of the story, it contains some farcical humour which made me laugh out loud. The story works on so many levels that you'll probably want to read it several times to grasp its many implications - the first time I read it I was so captivated by the charisma of the characters (ice-cold Julius, aloof Axel and muddled Morgan in particular) that the philosophy pretty much passed me by, but it's well worth digging into this book several times; I keep finding new things to think about on each re-read. Despite the fact that there are some very cynical messages put over by the plot, it manages not to become depressing, and because there are several layers of characters, the overall atmosphere is one of bitter-sweetness, which satisfies in several different ways, not just the obvious. If you're looking for a one-dimensional, linear storyline, this is certainly not for you, but there are enough shocks along the way to keep most people turning the pages. As well as all this, the setting of the book is fantastic - there's a really atmospheric feeling of summer which creates the perfect backdrop for the increasing madnesses and deceptions which take place. It's done so well that the depths of cruelty shown by the characters at times completely drew me in, and my sympathies ended up in some very surprising places! The characters are anything but ordinary, yet this didn't stop me identifying with them. Overall, I couldn't recommend this book more! I think it would appeal particularly to people who also enjoyed 'The Black Prince', 'The Sacred and Profane Love Machine' and 'An Accidental Man' because the relationships work in similar ways, that is, by a series of delusions and false perceptions. If anything, 'A Fairly Honourable Defeat' does this more overtly, and leaves less for the reader to decide, which in my opinion makes it more accessible than the others - it's a matter of taste, but this is definitely one of my favourites.