Monday, September 19, 2016

The Winged HistoriesThe Winged Histories by Sofia Samatar
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This one is extremely difficult to review, mainly because I'm tempted more to appreciate it from afar rather than enjoy it up close. But there are passages where the reverse is entirely as true.

Whereas the first novel was a straightforward love of literature and myth made up out of whole cloth and full of love of the act of writing, itself, among so many who refuse to read, the sequel is nothing less than a shattered land following the events that led to war in the first, and not only shattered by war, but also as shattered in prose.

You see? I can appreciate the book's structure, it's sheer reliance on poetry and despair and song, (oh, especially song,) to convey a feeling, or a string of many layered and complex feelings and subjects, in the face of kings and monsters, family and one's love-life, of which there is quite a bit of LGBT, and quite beautifully done.

So much is either dense world-building in terms of myth, historical rumination, straight stream-of-consciousness. Only occasionally do we have a bit of traditional storytelling, and more often than not, there's stories within stories.

That's what I love.

What I didn't love so much was the lack of attention-grabbing plot among the wonderful prose, or, as the case may be, the sad fact that I lost interest. Multiple times. That's not to say that certain characters keep showing up to provide threads I can hold on to, or to see how each of them change and develop over time, or how their perceptions of love or singing give them perspective on their identities, but these gems were buried fairly deep in the labyrinth of the prose and often it was a real chore to pay attention.

I sometimes like to work for my read, it's true. But I want to feel like I'm going to get something really wonderful out of the challenge, too, and while this was all pretty wonderful poetry, I'm not sure it spoke to me as a whole.

There were certain parts, such as the love story and the songs that really got me, but the rest of the book was kind of a let down

At least in comparison to the previous one.

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