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Fantasy Friday – Green

Green by Jake Lake

Review by Bowden P (Trey)


After Mainspring I admit I wasn’t thinking too highly of Mr. Lake. Worse, he found the review of Mainspring. He did have the good taste and class to not engage in the blog comments about it though. And I have to say this: I wish I’d found Green first. Four and a half stars.

What’s the book about? It’s Green’s story from her first memories, to her training as a courtesan and an assassin. Her escape, return home and her struggles with herself and within. The blurb from the book does a good job of describing the basics, but leaves out many, many things. Some for fear of spoiling the plot, some because they can get very detailed.

The language Lake uses for Green lends to the unique feel of the book, formal but with many sensorial details. Sensuous and languid are two ways I could describe it. It isn’t “You are there!” type language, but I found he’d mastered the art of showing and not telling with Green. And while its languid, it doesn’t waste time. There are portions of the book that could be novels in their own right.

I liked it – partly because the plot against the Undying Duke that in most novels would take up the entire book is disposed of in rapid sequence. Another is that the after effects echo down through the years and are corrupting to the original plotters and impacting the lives of their agent, Green. I also liked the hints that it is the same world as Gene Wolfe‘s New Sun series (Lives of the Seventeen Megatherians for one) are another joy. And if it isn’t a hint, then it’s a fun little Easter egg. The idea of a god of pain and his beneficial role in the world was something unique and worth pondering. And if I like anything, it’s a novel that can make you think.

Then there is Green herself. Sold by her family, raised in cruelty to a specific standard of courtesan, used as a weapon and on and on. She should have broken under all that. But she keeps on. She endures. She grows and changes.

I like her prickly pride, stubbornness, wit and temper. She’s also deadly as a viper. In all of these, she reminds me of Venera Fanning (Karl Schroeder’s Virga series) and Jamethiel Dream Weaver (of P.C Hodgell’s Kencyr series), with a touch of Hezhi from Greg Keyes Waterborn. I like reading about her though I doubt I’d want to deal with her regularly (sort of like Dr. House in that regard), and right now I want a copy of the sequel Endurance to read.

Four and a half stars easily.

Likes: Green, herself; The eternal quest for a home that doesn’t exist; Kalimpura and its unique way of government and life; The Temple of the Lilly Goddess; Blackblood the God of Pain and the role he fulfills; The divine shattering and the Father’s Tale and Mother’s Tale; The Pardines – they’re very alien and different for all their resemblance to humans.

Dislikes: Green does verge on the whiny and angsty with her quest for a home that doesn’t exist, but its forgivable, especially since he inverts the chosen by fate trope of fantasy novels.

Suggested for: Fans of character driven fantasy novels; fans of Karl Schroeder’s Virga series, P.C Hodgell’s Kencyr series and Greg Keyes’ Waterborn and Blackgod novels.

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2 Responses to “Fantasy Friday – Green”

  1. Maria (SassenachD) says:

    I do enjoy reading your reviews Trey, I pass them along to my son and his friends who are SCI FI FANTASY readers. Keep it up!

  2. James L. (JimiJam) says:

    I, for one, think it’s in rather poor taste for an author to address specific reviews, whether by commenting directly or passive-aggressively calling them out, as I perceive the case cited in the beginning of this review to be. It’s one thing to broach the subject of general criticism, and offer some manner of defense. It’s an entirely different matter to call attention to individual critics. Definitely what I’d consider to be bad form. While I’m not the type to allow an author’s behavior to influence my opinion of works I’ve already read, I find it difficult to approach material new to me without a similar bias. Mr. Lake has done himself a disservice, but I can only assume this to have been inevitable. Kudos to you, Trey, for crafting reviews worthy of such attention, negative though it may have been. Your reviews and interviews are excellent, and an invaluable contribution to the Swap 🙂

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