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

Sunday, September 11, 2005

#81: Band of Gypsys -- Gwyneth Jones

Latest in the sequence that began with Bold as Love, winner of the Arthur C Clarke Award. Fiorinda, Ax and Sage are back from America, if not (at the beginning of the novel) quite back in England. In America, an experimental team of magic-users have pulled off an astounding feat; the repercussions are still echoing around the globe. The Triumvirate are focussing on more personal matters -- Fiorinda's possible pregnancy, Ax's mother's virtual imprisonment -- and are uneasily aware that much has changed in their absence. There are accusations of witchcraft and lycanthropy, talk of weaponised magic, useless harmful premonitions: a causal connection between magic use and schizophrenia ...

Rather like reading the news lately, this book heaps problem on disaster on tragedy. At first the set-backs are encountered with gallows humour and witty subversion, but that won't work for ever. By the time I'd reached the end of the book -- incredibly sad, bitter-sweet and yet this is not the end, this is (it says so) the nadir -- I was stunned by just how wrong everything had gone, in Jones' near-future world.

And yet the army still believe their king will come again; there's life amid the ruins; there's poached rabbit and foraged food for breakfast, and old songs sung new, and people gone missing when the executioners come ...

I can hardly wait for the next book. (The more I think of it, the more I am very perturbed by Marlon, Sage's son, who's all grown up now.)

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

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