Book of Athyra

Tue May 6 16:17:03 PDT 2003

Though _A_ is not my favorite installment in the Vladiad, I think you
underestimate the book.  I thought it was interesting to learn what life
is like for the majority of Dragaerans - this is important in evaluating
the political elements of _Teckla_/_Phoenix_.  We learn a good deal about
witchcraft.  We get to see Vlad interacting with someone he doesn't feel
inferior to, someone intelligent and sympathetic enough to be a worthwhile
foil; Vlad seems much more like an adult than he does interacting with
Sethra, Morrolan, and Aliera.  I thought the surgery scene was well-done,
and the minor characters of Master Wag and Sara were well-sketched.  The
final confrontation in the dark was also excellent.  I also appreciated
getting to see things from Rocza's viewpoint for once - not as interesting
as Loiosh's perhaps (though some of it comes through indirectly), but
worth reading a few pages.

Admittedly the novel does drag in spots, especially compared to the
earlier Vlad novels.  In fact my own objection to the novel is related to
this - Loraan spends too much time twiddling his thumbs and not enough
blasting away (he sends a handful of guards who can't trace a teleport?),
when anyway he has no business being undead after meeting Blackwand.

For a topical example of the usefulness of Savn's viewpoint, this list has
recently discussed the effect of Vlad's height on his fighting style.
Turning to _A_, we find that when Vlad is attacked in the inn he jumps
onto a table.  Maybe we wouldn't have gotten this detail in first person.

- Philip

On Mon, 5 May 2003, Greg Morrow wrote:

> Thomas FURNITURE ARTIST wondered aloud to the group:
>  >Re-reading it (yes, finished already) I believe I can say that though I
>  >almost burn with curiousity in regards to what Vlad and Loiosh were
>  >thinking, I did rather enjoy it being told from the viewpoint of Savn.
> I disliked it intensely.  In my impression, _Athyra_ is about forty pages
> of story stretched out to 200 by the expedient of a POV character who knows
> less than anyone else, *including the reader*.  Ignorant POV characters are
> no crime in storytelling, but their most effective use is to smooth
> exposition--you can tell exposition to an ignorant character to mask
> telling the reader.
> But Savn was ignorant of things we already knew.  For me, at least, that
> meant I spent most of the book going, "Yes, that's Vlad. Yes, that's
> Loiosh. Yes, I know why an Easterner acts like a Jhereg and has a
> jhereg.  Yes, this, yes, that, yes, I know this other thing already, too,
> just tell the blasted story."
> Plus none of Vlad's usual supporting cast?  Bah.
> --
> "Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil?  You're
> crazy."--Drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist in his project to
> drill for oil in 1859.
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