Longeye (The Fey Duology) Hardcover – 7 Apr 2009
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About the Author
Sharon Lee and Steve Miller live in the rolling hills of Central Maine with two insistent muses in the form of cats and a large cast of characters. The husband-and-wife team's collaborative work in science fiction and fantasy include twelve novels and numerous short stories in their award-winning Liaden Universe(r). In addition to their collaborative work, Steve has seen short stories, nonfiction, and reviews published under his name, while Sharon has seen published short stories, newspaper pieces, and two mystery novels. Steve was the founding curator of the University of Maryland's Kuhn Library Science Fiction Research Collection and a former Nebula juror. For five years, Sharon served the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, consecutively as Executive Director, Vice President and President. Sharon's interests include music, seashores and pine cones. Steve also enjoys music, plays tournament chess, and collects cat whiskers."
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
For me, the character of the Ranger Meripen Vangleuf carried the duology. There's certainly trauma in his past and angst in his present, but he keeps putting one foot in front of the other, striving to figure out the right thing to do and then to do it. Becca I found more ... annoying. She swings from too trusting, to too downtrodden, to too paranoid. It's not a failure in the writing, exactly. She's a plausible character, with understandable reactions and flaws consistent with her experience. I just didn't like her for a good part of Duainfey and the first chunk of Longeye. She did finally come to growth that made her more appealing toward the end, but I wouldn't have stuck with her for a book and a half if it hadn't been for the alternation with Meri's point of view.
And, of course, the trees. I would have stuck around just for the conversations with the trees. And I was willing to give Becca the benefit of the doubt before I came to like her, because the trees liked her.
Read Duainfey first, because I don't think this one makes sense without it, but I'd recommend you have Longeye ready as a chaser.
Things I liked:
* Meri, very much. There is no question that he is the emotional center of this book, much as Becca was for the first.
* The progressive descent of Altimere into madness was subtly and chillingly portrayed.
* The subtle characterizations, always a Lee / Miller trademark. No "mwa-ha-hah!" villains here -- even the most despicable characters had good justifications for their choices. And I could always understand and empathize with the heroes, in both their virtues and their flaws.
* The heartbreakingly beautiful depiction of the Woods and the Sea -- especially Vanglewood -- reminding me again how well these authors portray the alien as truly Other, yet wonderful and worthwhile.
* The nod to longstanding Lee / Miller fans with Cats! Rugs! Libraries! Yays!
So why only three stars?
I'm sure that the authors are too professional and canny to dwell on their reviews, but I cannot help but wonder if the negative response to DUAINFEY stung more than it should. At any rate, it seemed like there was a failure to fully explore the implications of the first book, and allow the horrific abuse and harm to play out as they should. Instead, I feel like everything was wrapped up too tidily and neatly at the end.
----'WARE SPOILERS ----
* What happened to all the political intrigue at the Elven Court? We are told that the Constant was deeply divided, that many resented the Queen, yet we had hardly a hint of that in the final debate. Just a few lords (not even named, just numbered!) held out for a few rounds, and we are told that was because they were weakened by Altimere's depredations, not genuinely philosophically opposed to the Queen. And does anybody have any idea what happened to Zadore and Benidik?
*Altimere's ultimate fate -- yes, it was logical and well foreshadowed, but honestly, how many times have we seen Evil Overlords destroyed by trying to steal more power than they can absorb?
* Meri and Becca's relationship. I'm sorry, I just couldn't see it. I would have loved to see them develop mutual respect, even forge a fragile friendship, but this just felt forced too me. They both managed to overcome such well-earned horror and fear, heal from the deep scars of abuse and failure so fast? Becca, especially, was deeply damaged from repeated rapes -- literal, emotional, and spiritual. Her paranoia and self-loathing rang absolutely true. I am supposed to believe that one good tumble and that's all over with? (And, okay, with all the pages of unpleasant sexual shenanigans in the first book, and once we get to happy fun consensual sex, all I get is one highly euphemized paragraph?) I know that things are supposed "heal faster" in the Vaitura, but honestly, this was almost insulting.
*The destruction of the keleigh and the Brave New World. Excuse me, but can anybody tell me what happened here? I think I sneezed, and missed it.
--- END SPOILERS ----
So, yes, three stars. I was impressed with DUAINFEY, and with the authors for daring into new, and unsettling and unpalatable territory. I didn't enjoy it, exactly, but I was willing to follow the authors there and see what they had to say.
But in LONGEYE, I feel like they took a few steps across the border, decided "Here Be Dragons", and scurried back into safe and comfortable feel-good tropes.
Many readers will like Longeye better than Duainfey -- it's a bit lighter in tone. But what draws me to Lee and Miller's work is their ability to draw the reader into the story. This one continues that fine tradition, providing great characterizations, engaging dialogue, and growth of the characters.
I will not provide spoilers, but urge anyone with an appreciation of well-told fantasy to buy this book. Lee and Miller fans will recognize this as a must read.
So how does this book compare to that one? Well, for one thing it makes more sense. The plot advances, and then completes. The characters are better-revealed. The background is explained more clearly. The motivations make more sense. All in all, it is better.
But "better" is not "excellent". In fact, it's not really "good". It's more like "adequate".
I think this was a case of Lee and Miller making a gamble and trying something that didn't really work. Or maybe they had an idea that they just couldn't ignore, even though they should have. In many ways this had all the worst aspects of their other work without the sheer fun and joy which makes the technical flaws unimportant.
The secondary characters were more enjoyable than the main characters, and this was not the kind of story where that could have worked. I just never cared about these main characters. And we never really understand what happened to their world except that there was some sort of crisis which was bandaged over. Eventually the bandage became more dangerous than the wound. And then the bandage was removed. That's all, folks.
I think this was supposed to be a redemption story, but we need to feel like the people being redeemed are worth redemption. And instead, they just seem to be reactors instead of actors.
To tell the truth, I kind of wish Altimere had been the hero. He was selfish. He was cruel. He was abusive. He was vain. But at least he had some style.
The Duainfey Duology, however, was a surprise, and not in a good way. The first book, Duainfey, starts with a Regency-esque premise: a girl loses her reputation and becomes crippled after enduring a carriage accident that kills a young man. Ok, Georgette Heyer is good with this. But then Becca, the heroine, is brainwashed and basically kidnapped by Lord Altimonte, an old lord of the Fey, and she becomes his sex slave. He uses (literally) her sexuality to "harvest" power from various others in the fey community. And it's pretty graphic. The first book ends with a horrific rape scene that I found troubling and shocking.
Longeye, the second book, deals with another crippled soul: Meri the Ranger. Not surprisingly, Becca and Meri meet, form a troubled relationship, and end up cleansing the forest / world. The Evil Lord Altimonte is defeated and everybody is happy.
Everybody is happy, I say, except for the devoted readers of Lee and Miller. The first book is too graphic (well, ok, it's not Laurell Hamilton-style soft porn, but it's bad enough!); the second book is totally predictable. Becca and Meri become Adam and Eve. I saw that coming for fifty pages.
Please, please, Ms. Lee and Mr. Miller:, go back to the Liaden Universe. There are hanging plot points and loose ends to be tied up. Why waste your time and amazing talents with this type of nonsense? Val Con and Miri would be disappointed!