Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Maledicte by Lane Robins

I don't quite know what to think about Maledicte. On the one hand, it has lots of court intrigue and balls and that sort of thing like Ellen Kushner's The Privilege of the Sword, one of my favorite books. But on the other hand, something about it just left me unsatisfied.

A shady lord steals his bastard son Janus from the slums because he needs an heir. Miranda, the son's lover/friend/partner in crime swears revenge and seeks out Black-Winged Ani, the goddess of love and vengeance. She dresses as a boy, changes her name to Maledicte, and become the ward of another lord who has his reasons to hurt the shady lord.

Maledicte, as interesting as the idea of him was, did not really do anything for me. His solution for, like, 90% of his problems is to kill the cause of them. There isn't really any motivation for what he does, except for the broad category of “revenge.” This may be because he's being ridden by a goddess of vengeance, or maybe because Robins is trying to make a point of the destructive power of revenge. Either way, Maledicte never really became a real person to me.

I've been using the pronoun “he” because that's consistently what Robins uses. It's made clear that Maledicte is much more comfortable performing as male instead of female. This was probably my favorite aspect of the book. We need more genderqueer characters who don't always fit into convenient labels because people often don't.

Actually, what this book reminded me of most was the movie There Will Be Blood. Like Daniel Plainview, Janus and Maledicte leave a trail of destruction in their wake . But, like the movie, I never saw any reason that they were using to justify their actions. It mostly seemed they did it because they could. And that leaves me a little uneasy with the way things ended in the book. I would recommend this book (I still found it very gripping), just maybe with some reservations.  

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