Jason Henry's Reviews > The Flaw in the Stone

The Flaw in the Stone by Cynthea Masson
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really liked it

Thanks for the ARC!!

In so many ways, the Flaw in the Stone is unlike anything I've ever read and the author takes several risks that I think paid off. I really enjoyed it and I look forward to the third volume!

The first risk is that this book is a prequel that largely excludes Jaden the protagonist from Book One. Fortunately Genevre is a fascinating and complex character in her own right, and the void left by Jaden's absence allowed other characters from Book One to shine. Going back in time also paid off in that the events of Flaw are building inexorably toward the events of Book One, building tension the whole way. I would definitely recommend reading Book One (or even rereading it) before reading Flaw as a solid understanding and memory of the events of Book One are crucial to understanding what is happening, and keeping the characters straight. I thought it was really neat how this book shed new light on mysterious events from Book One, like the visit to Qingdao and the Third and Fourth rebellions.

I loved how the world-building built on what was already established in Book One by adding new locations and fleshing out existing ones like the Flaw Dimension, Apiary, Qingdao, Sundsvall, etc. It was also exciting to see the ramifications of Alchemists' choices play out across two world wars. The book doesn't go into much specificity with regard to outside world events, but that makes sense since the characters are much more concerned about what is going on in the two dimensions and how that will affect the world in a general sense.

There is an awful lot of magic going on, and there were a few times when I wanted to understand what was happening a little more concretely, but I felt that it was usually explained well enough if I was patient, and I think there were times when the bombardment of alchemical processes is supposed to be a little confusing, contributing to the inherent wonder and unknowability of the alchemy.

Excellent character drama. Again, one thing I love about both books is how the characters' relationships and excruciatingly conflicted loyalties have far-reaching consequences because of their status as alchemists. Lots of exploration of love vs. duty. Great twists and turns in the plot.

Four stars rather than five only because I got confused a few times, there was a little more sex than I prefer in a fantasy novel, and it's the second book of a trilogy so it doesn't quite have the wonder of being in a brand new world or the exciting epic conclusion of the whole story. Although it does have a good ending and a really cool secondary climax about halfway through!

(Content warning: This book contains a great deal of fantastic alchemy inspired by real-world mysticism. Additionally, the characters engage in romantic relationships that are occasionally polyamorous and often not limited by gender. The depictions of sex are fundamentally tied to alchemical processes occurring at the same time. Alchemical baby-making is a crucial and recurring plot device.)
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Reading Progress

November 15, 2017 – Shelved
November 15, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
November 30, 2017 – Started Reading
November 30, 2017 –
page 120
30.0% "Really fascinating characters, love the Flaw dimension, I enjoy the fact that the Rebel Branch is just as manipulative as those sneaky Council types. I miss Jaden but love getting to know Melia and Genevre. (Side note: so much alchemical baby-making! 😳)"
December 2, 2017 –
page 178
44.5% "Got Kalina and Sadira mixed up there for a minute. So I was very confused when she showed up in Council Dimension before her mom was even born and then I was like, no wait, that was Kalina... All good now! 😂"
December 2, 2017 –
page 235
58.75% "3rd Rebellion... So cool... WWI tie-in references make me happy lol."
December 11, 2017 – Finished Reading

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