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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Lord of Castle Black

***** The Lord of Castle Black by Steven Brust. Fantasy.

Some books I love for the characters, some I love for the plots, some for the premise. This series I love for the writing, the sheer joy of playing with words that is evident on every page. I'd probably have given it 5 stars even if nothing happened, just because I had so much fun reading it.

The Lord of Castle Black is volume 2 of the third book in the series that starts with The Phoenix Guards. It takes place in the same universe as his Vlad Taltos series, but is written in a completely different style.

In this volume, Zerika has brought the Orb out of the Paths of the Dead, but only a few people know this--most everyone else thinks she died there. There are several factions fighting for control, including a pretender to the throne; Zerika's small band, including our old pals Khaavren, Pel, Aerich, & Tazendra; and Morrolan, who's just taken over his estates. There's action and intrigue as they maneuver and fight each other.

There's also the story of how Morrolan develops magic and how he comes to have a floating castle (the Castle Black of the title), as well as his introduction to and subsequent alliance with Sethra Lavode, the enchantress of Dzur Mountain.

And there's Khaavren's son Piro, the Viscount of Adrilankha, with an ill-fated love affair and a reunion with his father.

So there's action, romance, intrigue, and magic--plenty to keep the story moving. But if the writing doesn't grab you, I'd think it would drive you nuts. This is definitely one of those YMMV series. If you're not fond of, say, first person narratives, you can often make an exception if the story's really good. I'm not sure that would be the case with this series, because the writing is so distinctive, it's almost a character in itself. Here's a sample:
..."you must understand that this answer, laconic as it is, only produces more questions."
"How, does it?"
"I promise you it does."
"Well, I cannot help that."
"But can you answer them?
"My dear sir, should you but ask, I will turn my entire attention to doing so."
"Very well, let me begin then."
"You perceive that I am listening."
If that makes you want to smack one of the speakers, the series probably isn't for you.


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