These volumes provide all sorts of climactic, dramatic, startling action, and then a surprisingly relaxed and even sweet and sometimes funny interlude... with DOOM hanging over it.

I like how, especially in these two volumes, people generally behave reasonably and listen when people say they have something important to tell them, and sometimes change their minds when presented with new evidence. There are definitely jerks, bad people, and people being ruthless, self-destructive, and cruel. But there's very little totally random assholery.

I have read way too many recent fantasy novels in which people behave completely irrationally to serve the plot and ensure that the obvious course of action taken by the protagonists won't work. ("Screw your evidence proving that you're not the person who killed my wife and someone else is! I tear it up and drink it like a milkshake, HA HA HA!") I appreciate how Hale often has the logical course of action work, but then new obstacles or unanticipated complications arise.

Everything else is completely and utterly spoilery.

Book Seven:

Oh my God, poor Ji. I love (loved?) her.

I copy a bit from my comments in someone else's locked post:

I absolutely loved Kahlil's realization that in fact, sometimes people are reasonable and not awful and that if you sit down and explain stuff to them, sometimes they will listen. And also that Alidas got attached to his sad amnesiac assassin and was pleased to see him in better shape, even if Kahlil didn't quite register the extent to which that had happened.

The less-than-sinister scholars' club was great. I like the way things (mostly) aren't black-and-white: the scholars are very likable... but the tradition they're hanging on to left women out entirely (except as prophetic skeletons, yikes), while John's group has integrated women at every level.

I too liked that sometimes things do go as planned. Kahlil's plot was quite clever and I got a slightly guilty kick out of seeing him finally get a chance to do some assassinating. It was also quite a contrast to his chase and duel with Fikiri, which was much more desperate and brutal and didn't go as planned.

I too hope and want to see what happened to turn Fikiri that bad. I'm surprised, too, that he died this early. So the endgame, I guess, is Laurie vs. everyone. I hope that she isn't just totally evil, but more complicated than that. I was relieved to find that she still has her own body.

ETA: I re-read the climactic sequence and noticed that she seemed "very thin beneath the robes." Maybe she's MOSTLY a skeleton. Aieeeee!

Her kid does seem to be a giant dangling plotline. I feel like this must somehow play into the endgame.

Book Eight:

I'm glad John and Ravishan got a chance to openly be lovers and enjoy each other's company, even for a brief time. Ji inviting Ravishan into the Fai'daun was partly what I was thinking of when I said I liked seeing people behave rationally.

I also loved John's interactions with Ji, and seeing him explore his powers. Tavesh is sweet, and I enjoyed her goggling at John in his very tight shirt, and then being all "AWWW!" at him and Ravishan.

Scenes where a very buttoned-down character is dosed with truth potion and blurt out their inner feelings never fail to amuse me. I cracked up at the scene where John and Ravishan are alone in the baths, and John starts saying stuff that, from anyone else, would be completely normal stuff to say when you're naked and making out with your boyfriend:

John: "You're so hot... I really liked it when you went down on me at the hotel."

Ravishan: "You're still drugged, aren't you?"

I also liked the slight physical awkwardness of the sex, with John failing to notice that Ravishan had already finished early. That's what I meant by wanting more - it doesn't have to be explicit, I just wanted to see them interact during sex.

Oh, and Saimura's mom is a dog. I liked how he shrugged it off with, "Yeah, lots of people think that's weird."

I was right that Basawar is fundamentally damaged and faded - from all the gate openings, it turns out. I am guessing that there will not be a loophole enabling them all to get back to Nayeshi. I just hope that John does manage to grow some chili peppers on Basawar. He's a God, he should be able to spontaneously generate some chipotle.

I have a feeling the books will be all DOOM from here on out.

Enemies and Shadows (The Rifter)

The Silent City (The Rifter)

From: [identity profile]

lol, you make me laugh with the milkshake comment.

I appreciate how Hale often has the logical course of action work, but then new obstacles or unanticipated complications arise.

I found that Hale made really interesting story/plot choices. I'm not a great predictor when I'm reading something, I'll admit, so some stories may not be as bad for me as other readers who can see exactly where something is going. But very obvious choices still fall flat with me. Whereas Hale's choices were, for me, really interesting and even at times intricate, with some surprising results. It was never WTF, it made sense, it built on something that came before usually. But it sure wasn't same old same old!

Can I ask why you started reading The Rifter? How you found it? I picked it up because I'd had success with Blind Eye Books and Hale, and because there were interesting, enthusiastic reviews, especially on DA.

I liked Ji a lot too. It actually took me a while to realize Alidas in one timeline was Alidas in another timeline!

From: [identity profile]

I had totally forgotten about Alidas early on, so I didn't pick up on that for a while, either. Saimura too. I had not realized that the scene where John saves them both was significant because of the characters themselves, not just as a way to demonstrate that John is a nice guy. Which also goes back to the unexpected choices.

It's interesting how Hale takes a story with so many familiar elements - the magic school, the apprentice wizard, the star-crossed lovers, the portal, the magical messiah, the religious homophobes - and makes them seem so unpredictable. There's some predictable/cliched/illogical bits in the first two volumes, but not much after that.

I think it's because she allows characters to have complexity and shades of grey, and that dictates the way the story goes. Like the priests who decide to mercy-kill John when he's going to be burned to death... without asking if he wants that. It's such a moving yet ironic scene. Even, right at the beginning, the asshole guard captain who ropes John into escorting Fikiri, for purposes of his own that are nevertheless, in some small part, altruistic. Or, at least, aren't motivated by pure dickishness.

Hale also follows ideas to their logical conclusion: John gets dosed with truth drugs, and blurts out a completely irrelevant yet damning truth about Fikiri's mother, thereby dooming her and giving Fikiri a huge grudge. Ravishan gets turned down by John for very good reasons, and promptly runs out to have reckless random sex in an alley, with some predictable consequences and some that spiral way out from there.

There's also stuff which doesn't seem to directly affect the plot, but which makes the whole world feel real and lived in. Like the egg-laying weasels, the blandness of the food, or even Bill's inability to adjust to the thinness of the air.

I had been vaguely intending to try Wicked Gentlemen for ages, went to look for that, and then saw that she had a portal fantasy which also looked interesting. After the gigantic and unexpected blow-up over portal fantasy in my LJ, I have been trying to support instances of it, so I bought the first volume of that instead.

From: [identity profile]

I think it's because she allows characters to have complexity and shades of grey, and that dictates the way the story goes.

Agreed. Even John, who I like a LOT, and who does the best he can given his circumstances, is a nicely complex person and not a saint.

I remember that portal fantasy discussion. In fact, I remembered it when I started reading this and thought, hey, this is portal fantasy!
ext_7025: (everyone's a critic)

From: [identity profile]

That's what I meant by wanting more - it doesn't have to be explicit, I just wanted to see them interact during sex.


I feel like Tavesh is a total reader stand-in and she is cracking me up!

You were right about Basawar, and suddenly the Rifter being always in Nayeshi makes a lot of sense. So the Gate-damage is in a weird twisty way a mechanism to protect Basawar -- the price is high enough that you can't just unleash the Rifter any old time somebody pisses you off.

The introduction of Ravishan into the Fai'daun camp is playing out right along the lines of what I meant re: not being sure I would have wanted to see the outcome of Ravishan surviving. All that jealousy and anger feels very timebomb; much as I enjoy the young Ravishan, I'm not convinced that he would ever have grown into a Khalil capable of thinking things through, or that a John who got to keep him would have retained/developed the precision of power that Jath'ibaye has, etc.

Book eight felt a little let-down-y to me after the awesome range and density of seven -- but I assume we're just recoiling the spring for the endgame. I am super-curious re: what's going on with Saimura! He's been interestingly squirrelly all book.

From: [identity profile]

Ravishan is very immature in some ways, isn't he? I mean you can understand, given his rather ghastly upbringing at Dayyid's hands and John is like his first functional relationship, romantic or otherwise. But very young compared to John. (Doesn't John go at one point: no you can't kill X just because you're jealous of him.)

I really liked the camp scenes.
ext_7025: (Default)

From: [identity profile]

(Doesn't John go at one point: no you can't kill X just because you're jealous of him.)

Yes! Which is fair, but then later on John is all pondering about how maybe killing should just be a question of practicality and nothing else and I am going, Aaaaaaaaaaaaaack.

From: [identity profile]

Considering how much power he has, Jath'ibaye has done a remarkably good job of generally using it responsibly. It probably helped that he knew from the get-go that he could destroy the world if he lost his temper.

From: [identity profile]

Yeah, and I like how the text and other characters are aware that he's immature. Seriously, I think I read something like five books in a row where everyone acts like that, and it's just normal.

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