April 4, 2005

trying to say what’s wrong

Posted in books tagged , , at 11:33 am by placeinthestars

I spent the afternoon reading Funeral Games and really wish I hadn’t. First off, it’s back to the third person omniscient narration, which I don’t think is handled well, and there are too damn many stories she’s trying to tell, so they all kind of get short shrift. I felt terrible for Arridaios and Eurydike, for Sisygambis, Stateira and Drypetis, and for young Alexander, and warm and fuzzy toward Ptolemy, and irritated with Perdiccas. The rest of them – Antipater, Seleucus, Antigonus, Craterus – weren’t around long enough (or at all, in some cases) for me to care one way or another. And of course I already despised Olympias, Roxane and Cassander, so… I will say I liked Eumenes here, which I wasn’t prepared for. *g* Mostly, though, I wanted to take a shower when I was done reading, because they were (mostly) supposed to be on the same side, and they turned on each other like rabid dogs.

I also read A Choice of Destinies by Melissa Scott. It’s an alternate history which has Alexander turning west instead of going into India, and again, the third person omniscient is not deftly handled. And there’s a lot of “this happened and then that happened and this other thing happened, so now we can get to the scene I really want to write” which is fine for 2K words of fanfiction that wants to get to the sex, but somewhat less acceptable in a 300 page novel. Otoh, Hephaistion is FABulous *fangirls*, and again, Ptolemy shines. And the Alexander/Hephaistion was deftly handled, I thought (though there wasn’t enough. I’m a shipper, though, so there’s never enough for me. *g*) I’d have liked her to go more into the slight changes (the Philipification, as it were) in Alexander’s method of ruling, which are mentioned, but never explained. Everyone else was mostly two dimensional (dude, the Romans were just guys with similiar names ending in -ius, and I could barely tell them apart except for the one who didn’t want to ally with the Macedonians), which is kind of a shame, because the conceit is brilliant, and the little interludes from the future, showing how this could have changed *everything*, are really intriguing (I’d have liked a little more on that, as well). You can check out a longer, more thorough review here.

If you are, like me, hungry for more fictional Alexander *cough*DD*cough*, it was way better than Ashes of Empire (or, you know, the twenty or so pages I read of that before I had to put it down before I did violence to someone), which had the godawful writing, though I personally liked Lord of the Two Lands better, but that could be my fondness for Egypt and the sieges of Tyre and Gaza talking, and also my preference for the rotating third person limited narration, rather than the rather choppy third person omniscient. You can get it secondhand from Amazon for about $5, as I don’t think it’s in print anymore.