David's Reviews > A Choir of Lies

A Choir of Lies by Alexandra Rowland
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really liked it
bookshelves: liverpool, 2020

This is a book of two halves. Groan at the cliche all you like. It is a cliche. My reactions to the two halves were very different though.

It’s a sequel to A Conspiracy of Truths. An actual sequel to boot, not a Book Two of the *ology. Which means 20 points to House Slytherin from me. Only one character from the other book is present, Ylfing, now called Chant. Because he’s done the ceremony to stop being an apprentice and become a Chant.

The first half finds Ylfling-Chant grieving from a trauma(view spoiler) Old Chant is not in the book (view spoiler) Which is good because I really hated that character, I hope he had a bad end. Rowland has drawn the grieving depressive state of Yfling really well. So well. So damn well, in fact, that it was waaaay too close to home and made reading this half very difficult. I have to applaud the verity of how they depicts his numbness. It’s great. Dare I say, award nominatingly great. But fuck was it hard to read when you’re identifying so hard.

Particularly when the other POV character (kind of, by way of snarky footnotes) is often saying many of the same things your own traitor brain is saying.

About half way through the book, Ylfing-Chant has an upswing out of the depression into mania (view spoiler) before, seemingly, settling down into a level of equilibrium. He manages to develop some purpose and actually becomes a protagonist. This is where I stopped being seen so hard. I could tell, because I finished that half of the book in two days, after taking almost two weeks with the first half.
I’m not going to recount the plot, just read it. It’s a good story. It’s got some interesting ideas about who owns stories, who owns one’s identity, and responsibility. I may have read things into the differences between a Chant telling stories and metaphorically holding out a hand for the listener to grasp versus the push of the Pezian curse (and what it might be a metaphor for) that the author didn’t intend. I spent a lot of time musing on that. On the one hand, maybe Rowland didn’t intend the metaphor (basically thought leadership vs fake news, but the analogy doesn’t quite fit the info-pollution techniques of fake news operations). On the other hand they pinned these words on to the page like dead butterflies and threw them into the world for any one to pick up and own.

Anyway, its a great book. Read it. I hope they write another sequel with one of Mistress Chant’s apprentices.

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Reading Progress

January 9, 2020 – Started Reading
January 9, 2020 – Shelved
January 9, 2020 –
page 72
15.52% "So finally the identity of the footnotes starts to take shape.

I was kind of getting grumpy and impatient with this. I think part of it is because I'm still mad Previous Chant didn't catch a spear."
January 13, 2020 –
page 96
20.69% "Aaaanyway....

I wonder what it would be like to read this without the footnotes, and then re-read - even just a summary - accompanied by the footnotes. Does it change how you appreciate the unreliable narrator aspect?

And then maybe a third time with someone else rebutting her footnotes."
January 20, 2020 –
page 267
57.54% "Ok, now we’re cooking with gas."
January 21, 2020 – Finished Reading

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