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bear by san

March 2017



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bear by san

Not Book #48: Jay Lake, The Trial of Flowers

There is no empire any more, save leagues of empty broken lands along the River Saltus and its vassal streams, and the farmlands of the Rose Downs stretching east.  Those remnants the Assemblage governs in its own right, as executor for the powers of the vacant throne.  But even after Arnulf, the Imperator was executive of the City Imperishable only by proxy for the vacant office of Lord Mayor.  The Assemblage governs the city merely as a courtesy of custom, not by statute.

Jay herds words naturally better than most people will learn to with years of working their asses off to get it right. This is a really intriguing book, a fantastic city, a wacked out an interesting culture. It's beautifully written, and the characters are defined and interesting. Also, he makes me reach for my dictionary on a regular basis, which doesn't happen that much.

...and I couldn't finish the damned thing. For the same reason I can't read China Miéville's stuff, or almost any horror. Because Delany is exactly as far as I can get into the grotesque and have any interest in reading on. It's not thrilling or enlightening for me; it's just triggery.

That said, I don't want to sell Jay short; I think what I read of it was more strongly plotted than what I read of The Scar or Iron Council, and it has a similar weight and texture to it.

In short, if you like this sort of thing, this is exactly the sort of thing you'll like. I'll be under the couch with a stiff drink.


Yeah . . . the grotesque doesn't really do it for me, either, though I have friends who eat it up like candy.
Perdido Street Station just left me cold. I didn't care enough about the characters; the grotesquerie of things put me off; the borrowing from other parts of the world (the garuda, the vodyanoi, the khepri, etc) interested me, but the story hinged on the slake-moths, which simply didn't have any resonance in my head. I liked The Scar better, but the ending was, for me, a complete let-down. And since I don't like being beaten with the Marxism club, I decided to quit after The Scar, instead of letting The Iron Council sour my opinion again.

Re: it cocked its head and opened that unimaginable mouth, and from it a huge, prehensile, slavering

I didn't get nightmares from him, but I also didn't get a whole lot else. The prose style wasn't to my taste, and PSS in particular felt too self-indulgent in its digressions.
It's definitely fantasy-of-the-grotesque. Second-world horror/fantasy/dark fantasy in the Somtow/Mieville mold.

Which is to say, it's positively redolent of decay and vice and pus.
Do you know, I have exactly the same problem with Charles Dickens. (And Miéville. And Pinto.)
Did you catch the "failed reader" thing? That's when I outed myself for my inability to get through China's stuff.

His narratives just do not care about any of the things I care about.
Don't worry; you're not alone in the world.
I read and enjoyed King Rat, (though I feel it did not finish very strongly) and I often enjoy grotesquerie, but I have tried to read Perdido Street Station three times and failed miserably. Pretty writing, pretty world, but some critical failure to connect on my part.
Just curious, did you get through Perdido Street Station?
never even tried to read it.