Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Princetta

So we all know the story about the rebellious princess who runs away from home because no one *~understands her~*. She's a special snowflake, and once she's out of the restrictions of royal life, she blossoms like the rare exotic flower she is, and finds true love with scenes bordering of stuff from a Harlequin novel, blah blah blah. The Princetta by Anne-Laure Bondoux takes the idea of a runaway princess and plays it out a bit more naturalistically. Our heroine, Malva, is the princetta of Galnicia, which seems to be sort of based on Spain. The whole world of the story is a skewed version of our own, but with enough alterations to make it its own place. Anyway, Malva is not content to live the life her parents have planned for her. And, to be fair, her dad's kind of a jerk, mocking her writings and making her burn them. I mean, jeez. And so Malva and her handmaiden Philomena escape with the help of Malva's tutor, the Archont. Free to explore the world, Malva makes her goal Elgolia, a mythical land she hears about in a sailor's tale. But her quest is hindered by the vastness of the world and the enemies it holds, as well as by the rescue mission mounted by her parents which includes among its members the young sailor Orpheus, who provides the second viewpoint of the story.

So I really like that while Malva is a rebellious princess, she's also not stupid and is mostly not so stubborn that she ends up shooting herself in the foot. Realistic consequences ensue from Malva's decision to run away. She's not perfect, and she suffers, and she learns from what she endures. The whole sequence in the Archipelago was well-done, and while Malva and Orpheus are the main characters, the supporting characters on the Fabula were all sufficiently developed that their struggles and sacrifices were moving. The ending, too, was original and executed well. I honestly didn't expect it, but it worked for the type of story which this is.

The Anubis Gates

The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers is almost everything I hoped it would be. Time travel, mystery, magic, romance, action. But it's just not enough. Almost, but not quite. Well, I enjoyed this book. There's nothing where the author left something hanging. It's more that events seemed to whiz by too quickly. Everything made sense, but I hungered for more detail. The Antaeus Brotherhood. More background on the Master. A little more time focusing on Brendan's time as a beggar. Especially more interactions between Brendan and Jacky. I mean, if you're going to have a preordained romance, then give us some scenes where the characters get to know each other on more than a superficial level. Another hundred pages would have been wonderful. This book's only about four hundred, after all. There is plenty of action in those pages, however. Time travel, the mystery of the Egyptian magicians, Dog-Face Joe, Horrabin, Darrow, Dr. Romany and all the rest. You know, on reflection, I really think that the length is the biggest flaw in this novel, since it's excellently plotted. There's just not enough time to show instead of tell some events, particularly in the home stretch of the story, with the events leading up to Brendan's return to England and what happens from there.

Well, that was probably confusing, but it'll make sense when you read it again, just like the book it talks about. This was my second time reading this book, and, like with Diana Wynne Jones, the second read clears up a lot of things 'cause you're able to pick up clues and make connections that would fly past you the first time. So, anyway, I do recommend The Anubis Gates.