Saturday, June 28, 2014

[Rogues] Scott Lynch: "A Year and a Day in Old Theradane"

Another evening in bed with Rogues. It's so ridiculously easy to let actual printed books lie on the nightstand and just whip up an e-book instead. Not sure if my eyes are happy with this solution, but it is quite practical. No need for light, which is a good thing when there are people trying to sleep next to you, no need to flip those pages and hold a heavy fantasy tome upright. And it reads well. I never expected that when I began reading e-books, because I always found it difficult to read PDFs on the computer: but this is a whole other thing. With adjustable font sizes, several paper color choices, and lighting options, e-books have completely changed how I read. For the better, I suppose, because I read more than I did before. It's easier, even when tired, to read a couple of pages anyway because it's so easy. Yiha and yay for e-books, then.

The next story in the anthology is by Scott Lynch, and that's a name I recognize, of course. I remember back when I was desperate for something as good as Martin, and the long waits had indeed become long, and a flurry of new authors were popping up, all of them recommended by Ice & Fire-fans. One of these authors was Lynch, and his debut novel "The Lies of Locke Lamora" was recommended basically everywhere I looked, so I picked it up. It is one of the novels I never finished. It started strong enough, with some very memorable parts in the first half of the book, but for some reason my interest in the story waned until I put the book down before finishing it. Maybe I shouldn't have, I don't know (obviously).

Reading "A Year and a Day in Old Theradane" I do see an author who excels at coming up with neat concepts. An example is the souls of criminals "imprisoned" in statues along a bridge in the city of Theradane. It's such a minor detail, really, but so creative and I immediately want to put the idea into my role-playing game Bucket o' Ideas. The story's opening, like The Lies...really, has a few of these interesting small details that make the setting otherworldly, but as this short story progresses the fantastical takes over to such a huge degree that I again found myself losing some of my initial excitement (in The Lies... it was kind of opposite, it felt like too little was going on); now, if he had stayed to those imprisoned souls I would've had a medieval fantasy with a few flourishes of fantasy, like Westeros, but instead the magic is piled upon more magic and the setting turns out to be a whole lot more D&D-like than I imagined at the start of the story, with goblin innkeepers, automatons as characters, and a mage's residence literally overflowing with magic. Still, it is well written and enjoyable, and there's some fantastic dialogue in there, the banter leaning closer to the gritty humor/ fantasy of Martin / Abercrombie / Erikson. In a way the story also took me back to the memories I have of The Lies..., especially the way Lynch uses color and lights to describe the city of Theradane. When the main character gets drunk and angry and calls a powerful sorceress a "thundercunt" I couldn't help but laugh, that's a great scene right there. The characters, then, feel as if they belong to the Malazan world, the setting is reminiscent of the D&D world Eberron, while the plot itself is something Abercrombie could've come up with.

It's a fun story, not one that will keep me awake at night pondering philosophical questions, but still a fun story and it stands out by virtue of its over-saturated setting. It almost makes me want to finish the first Locke novel in case I've missed something.

1 comment:

  1. This story is better than his novels because the main character is less of a whiny bitch than Locke Lamora