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Mike Lynch

Joined 1 year, 8 months ago

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The Obelisk Gate (2016) 4 stars


Almost as good as the first

4 stars

I read The Fifth Season under special circumstances: waiting in a hospital emergency room, and enthralled by a fantasy novel about deeply felt characters facing much worse problems than I was. (I'm fine now.) The Obelisk Gate is just as good: intense and at times brutal fantasy with immediate connections to the politics, racial and otherwise, of our world, without being in any way limited by this. I didn't find the multiple viewpoints quite as clear in this volume but I still loved it.

To Calais, in Ordinary Time

No rating

A peasant turned bowman, a minor lord's runaway daughter and a church scholar make their way from a Gloucestershire village to Calais as the Black Death comes from the other direction. Each of the three characters has their own dialect, which are loving reconstructions of the different flavours of Middle English with modernised and regularised spelling but a syntax and vocabulary of their own, showing the language's Saxon, French and Latin roots. This makes it sound like it might be just an elegant literary game - there are plenty of nods to Chaucer, Dante and Shakespeare but the real medieval literature intertext is the French allegory, The Romance of the Rose - but once you get into the language it's a surprisingly pacy and incident-packed read.

It is a bit of a challenge, and unlike many genre novels with fantasy Ye Olde Fashionéd Speake, there's no glossary in the back. …