Phil Parker (tigertoy) wrote,
Phil Parker

Book Review: The Lord of Castle Black

Today's book review is The Lord of Castle Black by Steven Brust.

My reading has been less focused than usual, since I've been distracted by my Las Vegas trip and not feeling well, but I did finish the book, so I want to write something about it.

This book is the middle book of a trilogy, The Viscount of Adrilankha, and according to the author's preface, really isn't intended to be read as a standalone novel. But I read the first volume (The Paths of the Dead) a while back when it came out in paperback, and the third volume (Sethra Lavode) isn't in paperback yet, so I don't have it. Perhaps I should have waited until I had all three volumes together and read them all at once, but given the schedule they're published on, I didn't.

The Viscount of Adrilankha as a whole continues the series of The Phoenix Guards and Five Hundred Years After. All of these books are written in a deliberately flowery style, with its own special style of stilted dialog. They have a different feel from Brust's other books, and some people probably wouldn't appreciate it. I understand that the style is a deliberate homage to Dumas, but since I haven't read Dumas, I can't comment on that. I find the style to be mostly amusing, but slightly annoying as well, especially for the first few chapters before I've gotten into the flow of it.

The story in The Lord of Castle Black itself bounces between several different viewpoint characters, so it is a little harder to follow what's happening than with a simple one-viewpoint plot, but it is not extremely difficult to keep track of what's going on. It picks up where The Paths of the Dead left off, and you'd probably be pretty lost if you hadn't read that volume, it rollicks along until the end of the volume, and you pretty much run out of pages without having anything tied up. It has reached a sort of a pause in the action, but each of the major characters is in the middle of something. In other words, it was enjoyable to read, but not very satisfying to finish because the story isn't over yet. But since the book is clearly labeled as part of a trilogy and the preface specifically says the author didn't want to break one long novel into three volumes, I don't think the lack of an ending is a fair complaint.

On the whole, if you're familiar with Brust's books, and in particular with the Phoenix Guards series, you know what you're getting. If you're not familiar with Brust, don't start with this book! I'm going to give my experience reading it a 7 out of 10, which is probably a lower rating than the book deserves, but it had the misfortune of my choosing to read it at a bad time.
Tags: book review, fantasy, steven brust
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