I can't decide whether this would be more unpredictable or less interesting for someone not previously acquainted with the Mitchell 'verse, but there'I can't decide whether this would be more unpredictable or less interesting for someone not previously acquainted with the Mitchell 'verse, but there's something this book does to sort of revisit the same magical rules/world through a different sub-genre that I liked, if I wanted to like it just a bit more. There may be something about Marinus I would always come back for, even if it's more for the concepts packaged into that character.
side note/complaint: I definitely felt Sally was written to be entirely sympathetic and I enjoy seeing a male author give some credit to sisterhood in her plot thread, but was it well done to characterize and reference her so emphatically, in through and around, her status as a fat person? It stopped feeling matter-of-fact and closer to pitying if not outright vicious at times....more
It's very hard to rate the collection as a whole - "The Ill-Made Knight" as the longest installment is top-notch, almost flawless aside from its complIt's very hard to rate the collection as a whole - "The Ill-Made Knight" as the longest installment is top-notch, almost flawless aside from its complimentary flaw of drawing such simply human portraits from archetypal characters that its fairy-tale conventions become less credible blights (I'm not talking about magic coexisting with realism as much as the trappings and misunderstandings feeling too foolish for thicker-than-fabled personalities to fall into, even when the classic tale obviously mounts them into those misfortunes). I can't recommend the White treatment to mythological purists, nor do I think a complete Arthurian newbie would really get it either, but for anyone like me who is just aware enough to have Opinions, or at least will lap up anything with an emotional treatment of The Eternal Threesome Triangle that is Lance and Gwen's forgiven betrayal of King Sad Boo, holy shiz the feelings...for a while, at least. The characterization is potent at times, uneven at others, and by the end Arthur feels like a hollow visage of political angst, and if we're meant to still care about these beloved characters and their relationships, White just isn't really following the same ball that we might be by then.
The breakdown: Sword in the Stone: 3/5. It's delightful and funny at times but gets a little monotonous; it's fun to compare notes if you're a fan of the Disney movie. The Queen of Air and Darkness: 3.5/5. I love both the more humorous segments with the Questing Beast and the foreshadowing set-up with Arthur's future enemies, but the tone feels like a merely decent best effort to do both foreboding and lighthearted as a transition between the first and third books. The Ill-Made Knight: 5/5. Arthur could have been delved into more, but Guenever and Lancelot as the main character studies is an important choice that earns no insult from me. The Candle In The Wind: 4/5. Some excellent character moments, and the omissions of sentiment are sometimes as poignant as the declarations, though at other times frustrating. Feels rushed to its conclusion, in a way that has nothing to do with glazing over the final battle. The Book of Merlyn: 2/5. White suddenly gives it the treatment of characters-as-political-philosophy-puppets, a fine thing when it's shown but not so much when it's told, in outlined lecture. Then a quick sort of epilogue is all we get of the fate of several different characters. It is both a weakness and a strength that Merlin is one of the least interesting characters in the White treatment overall....more
Four stars is slightly generous, but ugh, I believe in you, Mitchell. Probably some day you will write a book I actually LOVE, but for all the daringFour stars is slightly generous, but ugh, I believe in you, Mitchell. Probably some day you will write a book I actually LOVE, but for all the daring dismissal of genre confinements this just didn't manage to be hard to put down at any point.
On one hand, I seem to be that rare reader who enjoyed Crispin Hershey's segment with all its meta-self-deprecation; maybe it was just a sweet release because I could barely put up with Hugo Lamb just beforehand, but I thought there was a smudge of transparent unhappiness and insecurity in Crispin's crappy actions and attitudes that made for a bitter kind of humor, and the transformation in him and his regard for Holly was subtle enough for me to compensate by being endeared to him just for the hell of it. I also enjoyed the comforting consistent presence of Marinus and the complicated relations among the horologists, and I wanted to know more than the foreboding interludes we got involving Holly and Edmund's relationship, but alas, this is only a Bildungsroman in pieces.
There was one point--but really just the one--when I thought the possibly soap boxy element of how enlightened our semi-immortal hero characters were went a bit too far, suddenly conveying the antagonists as mustache-twirling cliches somehow, and that comes as a jarring displacement when it's Mitchell. I also thought the final segment was depressing as hell, and I'm not one to complain about that very often, but ultimately it did end up in a satisfying enough place, arriving both at the fantastic and the mundane....more
The multi-character focus works well within the format even if inevitably some of it feels rushed and the characters are missing an amount of depth. The multi-character focus works well within the format even if inevitably some of it feels rushed and the characters are missing an amount of depth. I have to applaud that Randall Flagg is delightfully rendered so far, though my memory of how he was written that early on in the actual book is really fuzzy. Aside from some inspired Flagg images, I could give or take the art; a lot of the main characters don't seem to take a very consistent appearance....more
I'm probably being a little hard on it because it was a page turner at the start, but everything about this book felt...purely decorative? The whimsicI'm probably being a little hard on it because it was a page turner at the start, but everything about this book felt...purely decorative? The whimsical attention to world-building would have been lovely if everything else wasn't overwhelmed by expository paraphrase--I have little idea what Marco or Celia is actually like after spending half the book with them; I ended up wanting Tsukiko's story instead of theirs, and I'm not just saying that because she's a magical contorting tattooed lesbian, but even her I had a hard time investing in. There's a paper-thin attempt to say anything thematic about the nature of magic that makes the ending fall very flat....more