No two persons ever read the same book. --Edmund Wilson

Sunday, July 10, 2005

#59: The Shadow of Albion -- Andre Norton and Rosemary Edghill

Another book that I've had for ages but only just rediscovered while clearing bookshelves.

Andre Norton, who died recently, was the first SF author I discovered for myself (around the age of 7). I find some of her writing stiff and over-purpled, but she knew how to tell a story. Rosemary Edghill (who writes crime, SF and Regency romance under a number of pen-names) is a more recent favourite. When I heard of this collaboration -- an alternate-history romance -- I was intrigued.

I'm a little disappointed. There are pacing issues, especially towards the end of the novel (the first in a series, published 1999), where some key scenes are disposed of in a couple of sentences: the last couple of chapters feel terribly rushed, in marked contrast to earlier parts of the book.

The plot's sound, though. England, 1805: but there's a Stuart King on the throne, and America is still a colony. Dying of consumption, the Marchioness of Roxbury makes a pact with the faery folk to bring a replacement from another world to complete a mysterious Task. The replacement, Sarah Cunningham of a Baltimore more nearly resembling the one in our own history, is duly summoned and takes her place -- not only as haughty aristocrat but as the fiancée of the Pimpernel-like Duke of Wessex. Heyeresque intrigue -- cut with weightier affairs, such as the abduction of the Danish Princess who was due to marry the heir to the throne, and the rumoured reappearance of the lost Dauphin -- ensues.

I'll be acquiring the rest of the series, I think: I want to know more of how the story resolves itself. And there are some charming characters, though mostly among the supporting cast. And there's enough wit and invention to make up for most of the lapses.

reposted here from LJ in order to keep all my reviews in one place

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