One of the great pleasures afforded by my intro to the Peabody series -- He Shall Thunder in the Skies was the rich cast of characters and sense of hiOne of the great pleasures afforded by my intro to the Peabody series -- He Shall Thunder in the Skies was the rich cast of characters and sense of history in their various relationships. Ever since then, I've been slowly working my way forward from the beginning. For my money, those interrelationships really begin to shine in this book, and add more complexity to the plot. That helps, because aspects of the premise for this story stretch plausibility a bit more than in other books. It doesn't matter much, though; for the reader who's gotten to know the characters a book at a time from the beginning, the fun starts to reach a new level with this book (no doubt in part because Ramses begins to come into his own as a character)....more
At the start of this work, I worried a bit that the story might suffer from resolution of the love-life drama that had spanned the last few books. ButAt the start of this work, I worried a bit that the story might suffer from resolution of the love-life drama that had spanned the last few books. But though some of the early "Manuscript H" sections did drag a bit compared to the scenes with Amelia and Emerson, Peters had nicely hit her stride by the middle of the book.
One of the great things about writing a series like this — and such a long one at that — is the richness of character and relational development that becomes possible. Peters has never failed to make good use of Ramses, of course, but the series really reached a new level once he reached his teens and she had to start splitting the narratives between multiple perspectives. I'm hard to put to conceive how she could achieve that kind of story outside a series, though. By having written so many books, and over so much time, Peters' relationship to her characters has probably developed almost as much as theirs with each other, in a way.
I suppose some of the great epic novels have a similar quality, but at this point in the series, all the characters' shared past stories and adventures gives Peters so much to work with. In particular, it was really neat to see the family starting to wrestle (in this book) with certain long-established relational dynamics and the problems they cause. Of course, all that happens in typically humorous fashion, but still. These books are truly a delight to read. I'm starting to think no series has been this fun since I first discovered, devoured, then reread and reread Maud Hart Lovelace's Betsy-Tacy series....more
I'm not sure what to think of how the various parts of this story fit together, but any chance to hang out with the Peabody Emersons reproduces some oI'm not sure what to think of how the various parts of this story fit together, but any chance to hang out with the Peabody Emersons reproduces some of my happiest childhood reading experiences. That's not to call the books childish, but I'm hard put to think of a book -- much less series -- that's brought me as much joy since I first discovered the delight of a good story.
I will say, however, that certain references and aspects of the story won't mean as much unless you've read the series from the start. When I first discovered it, via "He Shall Thunder from the Skies," some claims or statements seemed a bit preposterous. And perhaps they are. But when you've followed the characters over so many books, I guess the suspension of disbelief gets easier. Claims about Sethos and Ramses make more sense when you've seen them elaborated in several adventure.
At any rate, this was a lot of fun. I'm so glad there are still a few books left in the series....more