This is an excellent biography of a fascinating person. Rich with sympathy and empathy for both Byron and all the major figures in his life, it gives...moreThis is an excellent biography of a fascinating person. Rich with sympathy and empathy for both Byron and all the major figures in his life, it gives due weight to the importance of Byron's writings in his personal life without becoming primarily literary criticism. Benita Eisler is a sure and capable guide through all of Byron's thiry-six years, and I, for one, was quite happy to follow her for eight hundred pages.(less)
This adaptation of The Arabian Night is slick and skillfull, choosing unexpected stories to include, staging things in new and fascinating ways, and b...moreThis adaptation of The Arabian Night is slick and skillfull, choosing unexpected stories to include, staging things in new and fascinating ways, and bringing a joyous humanity to all the characters. Yet another example of Zimmerman's theatrical genius.(less)
I had read this book once before. I must have been about ten years old; I owned and loved The Steerswoman's Road, and borrowed this third book in the...moreI had read this book once before. I must have been about ten years old; I owned and loved The Steerswoman's Road, and borrowed this third book in the series from the library. For some reason, it made little impression on me. I remembered the emotional contours of the story - the tension and nostalgia between Rowan and Janus, the warmth of Steffie's arc, the steadily building frustration (very much like that of The Outskirter's Secret) and then the dramatic upset of the ending. But I remembered it as artificial, inferior to the previous two books.
I have no idea how I could have thought that of this book. I must have been too young for it.
Kirstein's narrative skill astonishes me; I don't think I know any other author who can grip my attention in this very particular way, lead me so effectively down the path of her story. She does reveals and revelations amazingly well - I think this is largely because these novels are, at their core, so much about the process of discovery itself, and her reveals engage the reader equally on an emotional and intellectual level. I knew this before today - I've read The Steerswoman's Road over and over and over, dissecting its craft with as much fascination and excitement as Rowan has when she dissects the unfamiliar creatures and objects she encounters. But rereading The Lost Steersman for the first time in many years, I was completely and entirely absorbed.
And the last section...the last section hit me so hard that I felt winded, closing the book.
(view spoiler)[I know that I resisted Kirstein's lead strongly, which I think is partly why I had such a spotty recollection of the novel's final section. I wanted the story she promised us - I wanted the rich, delicious interpersonal dynamics between Rowan and Janus and Zenna to be explored, I wanted a confrontation with Slado, I wanted ends to be tied up and the story to have an elegant conclusion. I remembered from my first, decade-old reading that I would not get that, but my expectations blinded me to the story that she was telling, though in retrospect it is the most symmetrical and gorgeous thing.
I kept debating whether or not the resemblance of Janus to Fletcher troubled me - I was somewhat, though not entirely, mollified when Rowan herself commented upon it, and then the ending inverted Fletcher's storyline brilliantly. Because Rowan, like the readers, sees the resemblance between Fletcher and Janus and is misled by it, misunderstands what sort of story she is in. And, through her misunderstanding, she partly turns Janus into Fletcher (at least if her assumption of what he has left to do at the end of the novel is correct), and allows him to use false narratives from the previous novels to hoodwink her friends. Which is an incredible choice on Kirstein's part, if so, so manipulative.
The things that these books have to say about colonialism are absolutely staggering, and I do not entirely know what to do with them.
I don't really want to talk about it in terms of genre, as fantasy or science fiction, because ultimately that does not matter. These are stories about communication, about language in all its forms, and that is their essence.
I don't think I know any book that takes such intense, continuous, and variegated delight in the very idea of words, knowledge, learning, as these do. (hide spoiler)]
I am so much looking forward to finally reading The Language of Power, I cannot even say.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)