Driftwood by Marie Brennan

Posted On 10 August 2020

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DriftMy TL:DR Five Word Review: My oh my.  How unusual.

What a strange and strangely unique story this was.  On the face of it, it’s a world with different countries colliding together and then shrinking before disappearing from existence completely.  A story brought together by different inhabitants from all those countries recounting their own stories, all centering around one particular character, a character called Last who is known simply because he’s been around longer than anyone else.   It’s an odd concept, this group of people sitting around recounting their own tales, it feels like a meeting of strangers at a funeral all sharing stories of the deceased, which is also kind of fitting when you consider that each of the worlds here are about to pop out of existence.  And, at the same time as being a totally fictional place cram packed with imaginative and quirky details this can also be taken as an allegory, maybe of the history of the world or perhaps a look at disappearing civilisations.  It’s not as though we haven’t discovered our share of civilisations that have become extinct and it’s a fascinating part of the world’s history and this particular book takes a look at the way stories are shared and passed down from one generation on to the next until finally they’re so fundamentally changed or parts of them completely forgotten that that particular time and place is eventually lost to us.

So, this story really highlights the way we tell our stories.  Short story collections don’t usually work for me but this one did and that’s because it’s not a typical anthology, it’s a complete story told by a number of different people and in that respect it works very well.  This is a world that contains multiple worlds, it’s like a collection of all the disappeared civilisations, an imagining that brings them together, jostling for position, almost like flotsam bobbing randomly upon the waves before being sucked into a vortex.

The writing is good, it’s crisp and there is no wastage.  To be honest it surprised me that it pulled me into the story because it isn’t really character focused (although Last is the main thread throughout) and I do like my stories to be character led.  It’s difficult to get to grips with the characters when they’re discovered in this way and yet I find myself in the strange position of liking Last and in fact I think he could totally be the star of his own show if the author decided to tell his story.

In terms of world building.  Well, I had no problem picking this one up and running with it.  It’s like if you imagine all the fairy tales ever told belonging to one world, like the Neverending Story, if you like, they’ve all come together for their last gasp before blinking out of existence.  And like the Neverending Story there is no shortage of worlds and people – they’re not deeply dwelled upon but they are quite fascinating and sketched in a way that is entertaining and curious all at once.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, I can imagine that this might not appeal to everyone in fact I’m the first to confess that when I started this I had that horrible sinking feeling that it simply wasn’t going to be my cup of tea.  It certainly doesn’t follow a traditional format and in some respects it feels like a precursor to something else – I certainly hope so.  It’s not a swords and sorcery style story, in fact it’s really not a traditionally told story at all – but I find that it worked for me on this particular occasion and even more so because of the style, creativity and ability to make me ponder.  I like a good ponder.

Overall, I’d give this 4 out of 5 stars

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

 

 

Can’t Wait Wednesday : Driftwood by Marie Brennan

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : Driftwood by Marie Brennan.  Shut the front door and give me this book, ahem, please. Pretty please even with cherries and sprinkles and cream.

DriftwoodWho is Last?

Fame is rare in Driftwood–it’s hard to get famous if you don’t stick around long enough for people to know you. But many know the guide, Last, a one-blooded survivor who has seen his world end many lifetimes ago. For Driftwood is a strange place of slow apocalypses, where continents eventually crumble into mere neighborhoods, pulled inexorably towards the center in the Crush. Cultures clash, countries fall, and everything eventually disintegrates.

Within the Shreds, a rumor goes around that Last has died. Drifters come together to commemorate him. But who really was Last? Lying liar, or heroic savior? A mercenary, a charlatan, a legend? A man, an immortal–perhaps even a god?

Discover Marie Brennan (The Memoirs of Lady Trent)’s incomparable Driftwood, a realm of fragments cohered into a myth that encompasses realities.

Due for publication: July 2020

Turning Darkness Into Light by Marie Brennan

Turning DarknessIntoLightTurning Darkness Into Light gave me exactly what I expected, it met my expectations and in fact surpassed them in some ways.  It’s a lovely fantasy of manners style story that brings to us the granddaughter of Lady Trent as she becomes involved in something of a mystery.  Told in an epistolary format we read of events through a series of different formats including letters, diary entry and notebook entries.  I was thoroughly entertained,  The writing style is just lovely and I can’t help thinking that if Jane Austen wrote fantasy she might very well have come up with something similar to this.

This style of storytelling is something I really enjoy.  Of course, it does require some reading between the lines or purely joining up the dots but that just helps to make it even more tantalising.  I would say that I think this stands very well on it’s own two feet.  I don’t think it is necessary to have read the Lady Trent series of books in order to understand this at all but, for readers already familiar with this world there are some blasts from the past that are lovely to read from.

Audrey Camherst is the granddaughter of Lady Trent and has turned her attentions to scholarly pursuits.  As such Audrey is gaining respect and renown in the field of philology – the translation of ancient languages – so when a set of ancient Draconian tablets are discovered – and Audrey is asked to work on their translation, she is only too keen to jump on board hoping that the work will lead to something new and exciting.  As it happens the work is the start of Audrey’s own adventures.  The tablets could possibly reveal the early ways and beliefs of the Draconian people and with an important case coming up, with huge decisions that will have an impact on how the Draconian people live, well, everyone is waiting anxiously for the work to be complete.

Basically the Draconian people are a different race and reactions to their existence has not always been positive to say the least.  Their lives are restricted in terms of movement and the upcoming debate could see massive changes to their lifestyle if things go well, allowing them greater freedom of movement.  I’m not going to go too much further into the plot or the Draconians because to do so could be a spoiler not only for this book but also for the Lady Trent series.  Suffice to say there are machinations afoot and not everyone has the best interest of the Draconians at heart.

So, what I really liked about this.  Firstly, the characters.  Audrey is a lovely character to read about.  She has a feisty/stubborn streak and clearly takes after her grandmother in that respect as well as her blatant disregard for social conventions that don’t fit the way she wants to live or behave.  She isn’t perfect to be fair and almost reaches a point in this story where things feel like they’re getting out of control a little.  Her own ambitions and secret desire for fame of the sort her family already enjoy leads her sometimes to rush at things with little regard for the bigger picture.  But, I liked this about her and let’s be honest, it can’t be easy living in the shadow of Lady Trent.  I also really liked the supporting cast, Kudshayn, who is roped in to the work of translating the tablets is a great character and proves himself to be quite handy in a tight spot!  Cora is the niece of Lord Gleinheigh – the archaeologist (although I use that term reluctantly because with his careless attitude to ancient antiquities he’s little more than a grave robbing-glory hunting hoarder.  Cora is an interesting character indeed.  She takes things very literally and has a very strict code when it comes to undertaking things that are asked of her.  I think she made an excellent addition to the team.

The setting and world building are also brilliant.  I felt like I could just sink into this alternate Victorian steampunk world with perfect ease.  The politics and characters brought the place to life and the attention to detail was spot on at the same time as not being overbearing.

In terms of criticisms.  Nothing too serious.  I wasn’t in love with the footnotes that were attached to the translations – but I think that’s a comment more about formatting than anything else, I don’t find that footnotes work as well when reading on Kindle for some reason.  It’s just so easy to flip back and forth between the pages of a book when you’re reading a physical copy and so footnotes, glossaries and maps become a little more cumbersome or awkward when reading an e-book.

Overall, little niggles aside, I thought this was a lovely read.  The writing is perfect and the story is very cleverly laid out.  I would read more from this world without any hesitation whatsoever and I sincerely hope that the author plans for more adventures and mysteries to draw Audrey into.

I received a copy courtesy of the publisher, through Netgalley, for which my thanks the above is my own opinion.

I would rate this 4.5 of 5 stars

WeeklyWrap Up : 18th August 2019

My week has been very positive.  Lots of keeping in touch with everyone and actually a very good reading week too.  I have a few reviews lined up although it actually never looks or feels as though I’m really catching up.  Two steps forward, three steps back.  LOL.  But, I’m not stressed – I’ve got so many good books coming up on my schedule that I’m positively delirious with joy.  So, this is what I’ve been reading this week (as well as making some progress with my SPFBO books):

My books:

  1. Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs
  2. Turning Darkness Into Light by Marie Brennan
  3. Missing Person by Sarah Lotz

Next scheduled reads:

  1. The House of Sacrifice by Anna Smith Spark
  2. Brightfall Jaime Lee Moyer
  3. The Dragon Republic by RF Kuang

Upcoming reviews

  1. King of the Road by RS Belcher
  2. Queenslayer by Sebastien DeCastell
  3. A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie
  4. Cry Havoc by Mike Morris
  5. Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs
  6. Turning Darkness Into Light by Marie Brennan
  7. Missing Person by Sarah Lotz

I’d love to know what you’re reading this week.

Can’t Wait Wednesday : Turning Darkness Into Light by Marie Brennan

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : Turning Darkness Into Light by Marie Brennan,  I am so looking forward to this book – I love the author, I love the Lady Trent books and I love this over.  Excitement am I.  Plus – we’re now going to tread in Lady Trent’s granddaughter’s footsteps which sounds awesome.

Turning DarknessAs the renowned granddaughter of Isabella Camherst (Lady Trent, of the riveting and daring Draconic adventure memoirs) Audrey Camherst has always known she, too, would want to make her scholarly mark upon a chosen field of study.

When Lord Gleinheigh recruits Audrey to decipher a series of ancient tablets holding the secrets of the ancient Draconean civilization, she has no idea that her research will plunge her into an intricate conspiracy, one meant to incite rebellion and invoke war. Alongside dearest childhood friend and fellow archeologist Kudshayn, must find proof of the conspiracy before it’s too late.

TURNING DARKNESS INTO LIGHT is a delightful fantasy of manners, the heir to the award-winning Natural History of Dragons series, a perfect stepping stone into an alternate Victorian-esque fantasy landscape.

Due for publication August 2019

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