So, yeah, I’m behind, with a big holiday backlog as usual for this time of year. I’m not going to do any big catch-up posts, though, because I just have a bunch of books (and not a pile of 50 graphic novels) this time.
So, let’s talk about Lawrence Watt-Evans’ A Young Man Without Magic . I’ve been a fan of Watt-Evans’ fantasies, particularly his excellent Ethshar novels, so when I say that this is maybe my favorite Watt-Evans novel, that’s not light praise.
I’m told that it’s homage to, or pastiche of, Sabatini, but you know who has never read any Sabatini? Me, that’s who. So I have no idea how this compares to Scaramouche (although Wikipedia Pete leads me to believe that it shares a lot in outline), but taken on its own right, it’s an excellent novel. Particularly so because it features something that’s rare in fantasy: Revolutionary sentiment.
It’s not an original observation that fantasy is typically a conservative enterprise, where people are attempting to either preserve or restore the natural order of the world; so I find it particularly appealing when I read a fantasy novel wherein characters are trying to overturn the natural order of the world and create a new one. Of authors I’ve read lately, Brandon Sanderson and Naomi Novik (who isn’t booklogged yet, so hey, sneak preview!) do the revolutionary thing to one extent or other, and Watt-Evans is doing it here, too. And he does it with a subtlety and believability that make the book seem as if it involves actual people and not fantasy archetypes.
Good stuff, and my only caveat is that this is one of those infamous Tor “split books,” where the second half of the novel will be published later this year under separate cover.