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

Sunday, September 25, 2005

#83: Leopard in Exile -- Andre Norton and Rosemary Edghill

I ordered this after reading and enjoying the first novel in the 'Carolus Rex' sequence, The Shadow of Albion. Perhaps it's just me -- perhaps this was the wrong time to read this novel, or something -- but I'm decidedly less impressed by Leopard in Exile.

Partly it's the proof-reading and editing. There are portions of the novel where characters speak in dialect -- and the authors have attempted to replicate this. ("I console myself, me, dat if I canno' take him from dere, 'Charenton canno' do so eit'er.") Fair enough, though I rather wish they hadn't gone to such lengths to make it clear that some people are speaking in non-standard English. But I don't require a summary, immediately following, of what's been said: and if the editor felt that it wasn't clear, perhaps it would have been better to insist that the 'dialect' speech was written more plainly?

THere are assorted typos and idiosyncrasies. That small handbag carried by Regency ladies is not a 'ridicule'. (And this occurs not once but twice, at least twice.) The phrase 'not at all' does not require hyphenation.

And I'm afraid that when I encounter a sailing ship named Jahrtausendfeier Falke* in alternate 19th-century America, I lose a great deal of faith in the tone of the novel.

I might have forgiven such lapses if I'd enjoyed the novel more. But the plot feels considerably more muddled than the plot of the previous book: most of the action takes place in a resolutely alternate America, losing the fun faux-Regency setting: the two protagonists of The Shadow of Albion, who spent the first book falling in love, spend almost all of the second book on separate continents: and though Leopard in Exile features the pirate Jean Lafitte, there is not nearly enough nautical mayhem.

The ending, again, feels rushed, and there are several unresolved plot elements. I don't know how much of the third novel was written before Andre Norton's death, but there's no sign of it having been published. A shame, because there is so much potential in the setting, and Edghill is certainly capable of better.

*'Thousands of years celebration falcon,' explains Babelfish.

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

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