Speaking of Vlad and Kiera

Thu Feb 20 11:57:00 PST 2003

[No spoilers left.]

--- "Ruhlen, Rachel Louise (UMC-Student)"
<RuhlenR at missouri.edu> wrote:
> That's what I mean. He drops clues that he doesn't
> know the answer to.  Then figures out the answer for
> later books, tying up all the loose ends (and
> creating more in the process). It seems like he 
> must have known the answer all along, because there 
> are so many clues, but he's actually just really 
> good at picking up several clues and coming up with
> a solution that answers several of them.

I agree, though, as you've said in a part of your
message I deleted, I do think there are some
situations where he does set things up.  Spellbreaker
seems a likely example, though one can never be
entirely sure.  I personally am terrible at predicting
these things.

This is one of the ways that SKZB's work reminds me
most of Zelazny's -- I wonder, when I come across a
particular revelation: "Do you think he was setting
that up all along?"  Either way, there's a certain
fascination at the skill with which he shows us new
things about characters, setting (the Dragaerans,
their Empire, its culture, its economy, &c.), and
plot, while hardly ever twisting any element out of
shape to accommodate the others.

So far, I think the best example of this particular
sort of craftsmanship in the Vlad books is _Orca_,
though I'm also partial to _Dragon_ (and _Yendi_,
though I know the author isn't).  I was a little
disappointed by _Issola_, as there are parts of it
that read as though the author had been, despite his
best efforts, reduced to simple exposition.  Thus
Vlad's uncharacteristic (and acknowledged as such)
demand for background from Sethra, and her
uncharacteristic response; compare that with his
conversation with Aliera in _Jhereg_, much earlier in
the author's development, which seems to arise much
more naturally from the interaction of the two

I would be pleased to be rebutted if someone can show
me why that scene works perfectly, of course.  (And I
might add that this particular objection has not
changed SKZB's status as the current sole occupant of
my buy-in-hardcover list.)

-- Greg

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