Most helpful positive review
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Lush, brilliant, bewildering, stimulating.
on 10 July 2004
I think it's fair to say all Mary Gentle's books are extraordinary but this is the one I return to again and again. Richly colourful and written with her most lyrical prose, it glows with the sensuality of a Rennaissance painting and the mocking detail of a medieval woodcut. It's stuffed with marvellously quirky characters like Valentine, the White Crow, The Rat King(s) knotted together by their tails, Gods from some arcane alchemical calendar, the delightfully oversized Balthasar, Kat, a wickedly innocent lesbian rat and Messire Plessy, an elegant rat cleric. The book seethes with ideas and surprises and skims bewilderingly past multiple themes of politics, magic, sexuality, desire, youth, age, religeon. Everything really. There are many layered and interwoven plots and after several readings I still find new things to enjoy. Also still things I don't think I quite understand. I find myself reading mouthwatering descriptions and suddenly wondering,Hey, what happened there? You never know what's going to be round the corner of the next page! I love this book and recommend it unreservedly to anyone who loves word and stories and doesn't want everything handed to them on a plate.