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

Saturday, June 02, 2018

2018/28: Swansong -- Vale Aida

This new blond Savonn was overlaid on the old one, two paintings ghosting through each other on reused canvas: one looked at him and saw, discomfitingly, both entities at once. The effect was cumulative. “He bleached his hair,” said Iyone. “Alas, he could not bleach his heart.” [p. 133]
Having read Elegy, I went straight on to the conclusion of the duology, which does not disappoint. All the charm of the previous book, with some truly astonishing reversals and betrayals. (Or are they?) There is more explicit magic, or perhaps simply the presence of the divine: there is outright war as well as the spying and subterfuge that underlay Elegy.

Iyone Safin comes into her own in this novel -- she's the heroine of half the book -- but there is also more of Savonn's viewpoint -- especially in flashback chapters set in Astorre. More, too, of the Empath, who was last seen gleefully hurling Savonn's silver knives at the city guard of Cassarah, and who turns out to have a plethora of weapons at his disposal. (Like many weapons, these are double-edged.)

The character who I felt developed and matured most in this volume, though, was Emaris, Savonn's squire. He discovers the identity of his father's murderer, and remains true to himself; he acknowledges love, and sets it aside. He is a delight, and humanly fallible: unlike Savonn, who is always wearing some mask or other, Emaris is affected by what happens to him.

Swansong kept surprising me until the final chapter, which is another refreshing aspect of these novels. And there is a sense of balance, of debts repaid and deaths avenged, of freedom and barter, trust and treason, victory and defeat. Though all the major characters' plot-lines are tied off (some more satisfactorily, and some more permanently, than others), I would happily read more about them: more by this author.

Today's mild niggle, to band-aid the gushing, is 'brigantine' in place of 'brigandine'. One is a ship, one is armour.

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