Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Arrows of the Queen (A schizophrenic's lullaby. With ponies!)

After hearing Mercedes Lackey's name mentioned in the fantasy circuit for years when I finally got around to reading her I was met with disappointment. Perhaps its because I've been reading more contemporary novels and this is a bit older, but the writing hasn't aged well at all. Between the disjointed perspective jumps from paragraph to paragraph which got repetitive and confusing (Instructor Sherril thinks this about Talia. Talia thinks exactly the same thing except with different word choice!) and the worst plotting I've seen in awhile, (big events are put in more as an afterthought: Oh yeah, we've got to have some conflict, right?) I had a hard time struggling through the book. I will give the author this, the magic system is well thought out and the world is well crafted. Aside from that, the book doesn't have much merit. Everything got glossed over in a sort of weird way, like traipsing through someone's own daydreams where they're magically good at everything and don't have to struggle. We're given no insight as to how Talia really feels about all of the events except that she tries to not cry and then proceeds to cry more than any other character. Apart from weeping, there isn't a lot of character development going on. She seems to transform by the end into some well adjusted adult through her friendship with the old man, etc. But as a reader it feels very falsified, for things happen way too easily.


Talia's so Perfect #1
The first instance of things happening too easily starts in the beginning. We get that the pony, oh wait, Companion, chose her, but really? It just HAPPENED to come at the perfect time when she runs away? No roughing it in the woods for awhile? Learning how to survive? No. When the next problem arises where she has no supplies, it's magically resolved when she goes to the next town. And the next one. And the one following. They just give her all the supplies she needs.

Talia's so Perfect #2
Her arrival at the Collegium is followed by more irrationality. First off, she's the Queen's Own. Okay, sure, special destiny, I'll suspend the disbelief. But then all of her teachers proceed to wonder at how precocious and amazing she is. Meanwhile, us readers watch her do a whole whopping nothing. She says a few words and everyone oohs and ahs at how insightful her mundane phrases are. It's a whole lot of telling us how amazing she is without actually showing any of it. The only thing she does is keep to herself when she's getting bullied and then almost dies. But rather than trying to fight back (heroic behavior) or trying to outsmart the bullies (heroic behavior) she just plays the victim in silence until everyone else saves her. Continuing her trend of doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for herself. And of course when it comes time for them to realize their gifts, Talia has the best and most rare ability they've seen in an age and people expect her to be the most super fantastic herald ever.

Talia's so Perfect #3 The farce at relationships was a killer. Skiff befriends her, good on him, and she barely says two words to him. But Talia's amazing, so he's just smitten. And the introduction of sex in this book is nothing but a giant joke. Really. Her friend Sherrill shows up after becoming a full fledged Herald and instead of saying anything about the situation drops in with sagely advice about using protection if she's going to bang Skiff. First off, while time has passed in the book, they've made no mention of it and all we have is the mental image of this thirteen year old. Secondly, how did they jump from a kiss on the cheek to full out fucking? And Talia takes it with all the excitement of a dead fish. 'Oh yes, this seems to be quite a lovely plan. Why dear Skiff, we must copulate.' And then the whopping three times they attempt to have sex, one or both of them fall asleep. It seems as if the only reason Talia's trying to fuck him is because Sherrill told her about this birth control and she's just got to try it out! Like a new fucking flavor of water ice or something. To make matters creepier, by the end of the book, her and Skiff go from deciding to just be friends, to referring to each other as brother and sister. All in one book.

The plot scrambled along like a distracted five year old in a carnival, trying to figure out what shiny thing to examine next. Maybe it's just because I'm a huge fan of character development, but this book definitely fell flat for me.

Rating: 2

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