The Fall of the Kings Paperback – 1 Oct 2002
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|Paperback, 1 Oct 2002||
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This is indeed a great book.
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It's the sort of book that when you read it, you want it to be better. I kept waiting for the big payoff, or a at least a touching scene between Theron and Basil. Neither happened. While waiting for that, I kept a laundry list of things that were bothering me the whole time I was reading the book:
1. Radical Retconning: There had been, in the first two books, some suggestions of some vaguely anglican religion. Katherine had spoken of the fetival that happened on Last Night in the Priveledge of the Sword, and Richard and Octavia actually described a whole night of festivities. None of these festivities included stags, kings, deers, wizards, or anything else that this book claims is tradition. On the same topic, Katherine's behavoir seems really weird for her. As does Gregory's. Marcus..... would the real Marcus please stand up?
2. Random Sex. Why on earth do Basil and Theron like each other enough to bang? I don't get it. Basil seems more annoyed by Theron most of the time. I had a relationship like this once..... it didn't end up in me dying for the fellow. It ended in me RUNNING AWAY.
3. Wandering Plot: There are all sorts of stings hanging loose and confusing at the end. I, frankly, don't get the end at all. It makes NO SENSE. If we presume that indeed, this is some sort of wiccan-type magic at the end, then Theron oughta be dead. The end resolution could use some smoke and mirrors or at least a handwave or two.
4. Exposition, after exposition, after exposition..... oh god. And lots of Captain Obvious.
5. Transparent Plot: As much as it wandered, the basic plot line was so thin and transparent none of the exclaimations and surprise of the characters when they finally discovered the Truth (captital T and all) seemed genuine.
I'm a fan of this world, but this was just plain painful to read.
Oh, and the Richard's Ghost thing.... it does seem out of character, he's not the sort of person that would come back to Riverside, I think he'd prefer to live out his ghostly hours where he had been happy. But, if he had returned to the riverside house and practiced sword like he had when he was younger -- why couldn't have Alec been there by the fire, keeping him company? Is there no peace for the dead?
Give yourself a treat and read its predecessors in the trilogy: Swordspoint and The Privilege of the Sword. This one is the last and best of the three.
Crabbe (by the way Crabbe is also the name of one of the minions of Malfoy,Harry Potter's enemy),Nicholas Galing and all the others.But oh, the sumptuous writings, the splendid descriptions of the parties of the nobility, whit a dialogue almost Wildean in its witticism, the obsessive power of artifacts...all is superb. The passages in which Basil St Cloud is first obsessed by luscious and archaic dreams, then awakens and peruses a strange old book who he believes is the origin of the dreams...well,you have to read it. You are reminded of Vandermeer's Book of Ambergris.But The Fall Of Kings is an absolute masterpiece, in a class of his own.
My second objection comes in because there's a LOT more smut in this novel than there needed to be: the book could've been accomplished without getting quite so earthy (and at least one of the authors managed this feat in a book called Swordspoint). I'm not objecting on the ground of some conservative perspective: I share a sexual preference with the main characters in this world.
I have recommended this book to some friends- but made sure they understood that they'd be wandering into what's at-least-R-rated so they could, if they chose, not find themselves reading a passage describing a rather heated coupling while on public transit. The other problem with the smut to me is that the plotline of the story, which was rather clever, seemed to be used as a string on which episodes of the two male characters making love were threaded like pearls.
I honestly don't feel Ms. Sherman contributed very much to this book, and am not looking forward to her next Swordspoint-sequel book. The main reason I am giving this book two stars is because its publication has occasioned a reprinting of Swordspoint, which is a good that makes up for a great deal of banality.