In this world possession is an accepted part of societal infrastructure and divine power is parceled out with a checkbook ledger. Looking thoughtfully at gods, goddesses, lawyers, and other brands of needy creatures, the book examines and elucidates the nature of hubris on many levels. The writing is superb and clever -- very few sentences deigned to be banal -- but that brought up a few instances of writing hubris (trying too hard) . I don't know if that was intentional on the author's part, but it was wonderful because intended or not, it supported the theme. I enjoyed all the characters, but oddly enough never really bonded with Tara, even though I wanted to. I liked her, don't get me wrong. I just didn't "get" her. Also, I am not a huge fan of the improbable one-upmanship, info-dumpy "Ah-Ha! What you didn't know was this!" denouement, but still: this is pretty satisfying to the last word.
I think my favorite interchange was this:
"Often a mechanic doesn't need to worry about compression chambers and heat exchange. He only needs to know that the engine transforms fuel into mechanical force. That description of an engine as a box that turns fuel to movement is a convenient fiction."
"I've never heard that example before," Tara admitted.
"What example do you use?"
Looking up the author's website, Max Gladstone: Novelist Myths for Hire, his latest blog post begins with "It’s been a TARDIS of a year: fast-moving, far-traveling, yet much bigger on the inside than I would have expected back in Jan of ’13," so he has cemented himself as a Friend of the Forest in my mind. Two Serpents Rise came out this last year as well, and another book is slated for this upcoming April.
Yes, of course. I DID need to add more books to my reading list...
Lessons for Writers: Again, Theme is no minor device -- it is the backbone of your story from whence all meaning flows. And "meaning" is what a Story is.
Visit Max Gladstone.