On his blog Vox Day has a very black and white combative style. He’s very logical and interested in facts, but there is no graciously presenting his opponents’ argument in the best light or giving the benefit of the doubt when someone says something incoherent. If you make a misstep in an argument with Day he’ll nail for it mercilessly. I don’t always agree with him but I enjoy reading the blog. It has the same sort of high energy, no holds barred, feel that watching WWF does.
I wasn’t sure I would enjoy the same style translated to a novel so I didn’t
pick up Summa Elvectica until it went on sale. I was pleasantly surprised to
discover that in fiction Day is one of
the best authors I’ve ever read at showing different sides of a question. I was
also very amused to find that while most authors, many theoretically enamored
of a pacifistic ideal, need an epic battle to
create an epic fantasy novel, here was an author who embraced confrontation and
managed to magnificently pull off an epic fantasy where there was no battle but
instead the plot revolved around
scholarly debate of philosophical issues. And he managed to make that thrilling,
intriguing and believable.
Throne ofBones if set in the same world and includes some of the same characters. But
the story also widens its scope to include many more characters and countries.
The basic plot is more the standard Epic fantasy
dark-forces-threaten-the-world. One of the things that first struck me was how
standardized and predictable most fantasy is as this book shattered expectation
after expectation. Throne of Bones has the grand sweep, the magical feel, and
the sense of walking with legends that I look for in fantasy novels. It is also
intricately and complexly three dimensional in a way that I didn’t
realize I was missing in other works.
just a “this is the way this world works” world building, each culture, and
sometimes each character has a slightly different vision of how the world of
Selenoth works. You can see them interlocking is areas of shared experience and
sometimes conflicting in areas where one or both cultures lack concrete
experiences. There are intriguing nooks that invite speculation on which way
the world will actually work in practice. We get to share in the adrenaline as characters
get their mental world expanded as they learn new bits of lore.
threat to Selenoth and its root cause are also complex and continue to
surprise. Exactly how the protagonists should respond to the various subsidiary
threats is presented as grounds for legitimate differences of opinion. My own
evaluations of some of the characters often when through several revisions
(even as the characters stayed consistent) as I saw them against the
different issues and problems. I changed my mind several times on the goal the
characters should be pursuing as they dug more deeply and discovered more of
the problem they were facing. There were
conflicting goals among the characters that changed and compromised so that
which characters were truly irreconcilable and which allies was not set in
But what I
most admired was that with all the things that were shone as relative and
changeable the book still maintained a sense of right and wrong. None of the
characters was perfect. All of
them had at least some fault, not just of skill and knowledge but of moral
fiber. I had to think about the moral dilemmas that came up, not just
automatically agree with the “good” characters. The characters
struggled with questions of the right thing to do very realistically but the
book still managed to project very strongly that there was a morally right
thing to do. It showed that choosing that was satisfying
and good in itself, even as there were times when the results of doing the
right thing didn’t seem fully satisfactory.
a quick, easy read for me. There were passages where I felt a little battered
by the reverse and alarms the characters were going through. I was challenged
to think beyond what I’m used to in a fantasy novel. But I feel I’ve been stimulated
to new understanding and new ideas. The story arch didn’t reach a complete conclusion
in this book, and I’m not entirely certain where it will end up going. I’m
looking forward, with trepidation as well as excitement, to reading the next
book when it comes out.