Factotum (Foundling's Tale) Hardcover – 11 Nov 2010
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I didn't want it to end, something that hasn't happened since I read Lord of the Rings a gazillion years ago. But more than that, the ending took me by surprise, I wasn't expecting things to turn out quite as they did, which has left me longing to continue traveling with Rossamund and learn more about his unique world and its history. Perhaps D. M. Cornish will tell us more about Rossamund's life. Perhaps, as young adults, he will let the young hero meet up once again with Threnody from book two. But that is probably only a dream this reader longs for.
I would tell anyone who wants to read these book to have all three of them at hand so that there is no pause between one book and the next, else you might lose the flow of the story and become confused by the wordage. I would tell them not to be intimidated by the length of the books. I would tell them to go slowly, to savor the language and style of writing. I would tell them to explore the glossary and appendix as it can only help a reader become more grounded in the story. I would tell them to allow themselves to become immersed in this strange new world which is both terrible and beautiful, bizarre and homely all at the same time. I would tell them to open their hearts to both monster and human alike as both have their good and evil sides.
I did grow tired of the main character's naive wanderings during the first two volumes, but this third one tied up the ends nicely and included more action. The supporting cast was richly written and some became dear friends by the end. Calling this fantasy mixed with steampunk is about right.
Eventually I'm going to have to shell out some extra dough for an import edition with the REAL title, the good, catchy, original title, and artwork appropriate to the atmosphere of the piece, as well as matching the previous books of the trilogy on my shelf.
Cornish delivers the goods, thankfully. It's a great story. But this one was packaged by tasteless cowardly MORONS. At least the madness is only here in the States.
As far as major plot arcs, not a lot happens in this book that we couldn't already guess at in the earlier books. I guess I like a little complexity and surprise in a plot, along with believable characters and an interesting world. I know, I know, not every book can do everything just right, but given the last two books, I had higher hopes in this area. In the first book there's the mystery of who (or what!) Rossamund really is. In the second book someone else starts to guess who/ what he is, and comes up with an interesting theory of how he came about. Meanwhile Rossamund is just starting to suspect something similar himself, and trying to come to terms with the ways he's different from other kids. In the third book... they just confirm what we've suspected since the first book. I guess I felt like he was trying to get way too much mileage out of an (admittedly awesome) plot device.
The second gripe perhaps has as much to do with how I read the series as with anything the author did, but here goes: I've been thinking about how the author created such a vivid and exciting world. I just fall into it when I read these books, and I don't want to leave. I think two tricks he uses to great advantage are the beautiful illustrations, and the creation of a whole vocabulary of this world. Every chapter begins with a new dictionary entry for this world, which is then used in context in the chapter, gradually adding to our vocabulary as it builds the complexity of the world. Almost every sentence has some word in it that's not a part of our standard spoken English, and when you understand it all, you feel like you're in some special club, or in some foreign place were you're thrilled to realize you understand more than you realized...
I read this book more than a year after the others, and I gotta say, I don't remember all of the details and language of this world. Oh! I know, I'll look it up in the enormous appendix in the back of the book! What? It got too long and he cut out a lot of the entries from the previous books? You don't own the previous books? You got them from the library? Ohhh, tough out of luck. Having a special club is a lot less fun when you're no longer a part of it. When you're in another country and can't understand what people are saying, you blame yourself and your lack of preparation. But when I'm reading a book, a young adult book no less, and I can't keep up with the vocabulary, well, I blame the author. A clever trick to engage the readers starts to seem like an author's petty, self-congratulatory indulgence pretty quickly when they can't be bothered to provide basic vocab to their readers, and the implied answer to a problem is "buy my books!"
That said, overall I enjoyed reading it, and would recommend the series, though with the above reservations.
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