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Stock writing from Kay
on 6 September 2006
This is a solid but unspectacular offering from Kay. It is set in the same alternate earth with which we are familiar from his other novels, and it benefits from many of the same familiar ingredients. In many ways this feels more familiar than normal, but this is perhaps because I have had greater exposure to British history than the various European regions in which his other novels are set.
He has a broad cast once again, which allows for some good characterisation, but also leads to a slightly staccato feel as the viewpoint changes frequently. Some of the characters are a little similar (to each other) and most of them are bog-standard archetypes, but perhaps the main issue is that I didn't feel any particular emotional engagement with any of them. Contrast that with Tigana in particular, but also the Sarantine Mosaic, where I felt genuinely moved as the stories unfolded.
So, once again Kay does a good job with his brand of historical fiction - well researched, reasonably evocative of the era, some very nice details - but on this occasion it doesn't soar as I have come to hope from Kay.