a preponderance of punctuation marks (reedrover) wrote,
a preponderance of punctuation marks

book review: Duainfey (and a nice note about Iron Kissed)

Sharon Lee and Steve Miller have a gift for lyrical prose, implication of formality, and understated descriptiveness that is in evidence here. Unfortunately, the story revolves around the removal of will, manipulation, and soul-staining actions of a main character who started out building to something clever. While I might forgive the authors their sensual lingering on the niceties the Fey offer, I cannot forgive their lingering on the torment of soul for sensual thrill. The second half of the story is nothing more than a series of assassinations and assignations made all the more horrifying by the main character's will-less participation in her own rape and abuse.

I have supported the Liaden series since it was introduced to me in 1988. I do not support this new series. I suppose I will now have to decide whether to continue to support the authors who choose to promote this kind of abuse as storytelling.

ETA: The book I finished just previous to picking up Duainfey was Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs. In Iron Kissed, the heroine is forced to drink a "fairy potion" which causes her to completely believe anything the villain tells her... so he tells her that she wants him and loves him, etc. and ends up raping her on the floor of the garage. Yuck. Ok, so that scene is over and the story goes on to explain how sick and sickened the heroine was afterward, and how guilty she felt for having not fought her attacker. There is a very good discussion between two other people about how 'a person who does not physically resist' does somehow not make it 'not rape.' Briggs made some excellent points about manipulation and guilt as well as vulnerability and pain.

-- This entire conversation was lacking anywhere in Duainfey, and might - just might - have redeemed the book for me to some medium of okay-ness.

While I'm annoyed about this kind of debauched Kushiel-esque scenery, it's more that I am saddened by the lingering artistic love that Lee & Miller put into those scenes of rape and abuse. The authors lavished care on something I would just as soon not read, and certainly don't need to have repeated over and over. Lee & Miller have fabulous prose and an incredible talent for communicating deep emotions in a few choice words. It's a pity that they spent their time repeatedly graphically humiliating the heroine.

ETA on 7/20/09 - Here's a link to a review in Associated Content that says much the same things that I did. http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1940966/review_of_sharon_lee_and_steve_miller.html?cat=38

"Nothing much happens. This is clearly the first of several novels and is setting the stage. For those of us used to the dynamic plotting of the Liaden novels this comes as a surprise. By the end of the book, Rebecca and Meripen have not even met. Neither the societies nor the physical worlds are richly developed. An energy called kest is of great importance to the action, but is never defined. A glossary would have been a help. The end of the book resolves nothing and has no hook to cause the reader to eagerly await the next novel.

Perhaps most distressing is the use of sex in the plot. It cannot be denied that detailed and gratuitous sex sells these days. The Anita Blake books are proof of that. Lee and Miller had marvelous sensual relationships between lovers in the Liaden series without having to describe organs. Duainfey has no loving, or even enjoyable, consensual sex. We are treated instead to sexual torture and rough, forced sex, which is dismayingly popular in crime novels, but is not usually seen to this extent in fantasy novels.

Will I read the next one? Maybe, but I won't buy it."
Tags: books

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