Saturday, 27 April 2013

Fairies Wear Boots: Poison by Sarah Pinborough

Sarah Pinborough - Poison (#1 of Fairy Tale Trilogy)

For fear of being cliche and/or stating the obvious, revitalised and rethought fairy-tales are having something of a revival at the moment, particularly on big- and small-screens. Series' such as Grimm and Once Upon A Time are vying with Hollywood adaptations such as Jack the Giant Slayer and Snow White and the Huntsmen for viewers suddenly interested in how fairy tales can be adapted for a modern audience. Sarah Pinborough's new novella, Poison, is steeped in this idea.

Quite why fairy tales are such a noveau vogue thing to do is questionable. In the latest edition of The Readers podcast, Gav Pugh argues that it is perhaps something to do with a generation of 30-40 y/os now at the helm of the creative arts responding to the Disney stories of their youth. Disney has come a long way from the one-dimensional tales of Aladdin or Sleeping Beauty, particularly with its acquisition of Pixar, and it is only right that the Fairy Tale story goes that way too.

Pinborough's tale of Snow White, therefore, brilliantly subverts the classic fairy story, adding dimensions to characters at a rate of knots. The classic story is there for all to recognise: The wicked queen, the dwarves, the prince, snow white in the glass coffin, the apple. Even the plot is broadly similar to the one we all know. But its how we get from a to z that is different and refreshing.

The characters are subverted, taken out of their pastiche-filled lining and given motive and reason behind their actions. The queen slowly become bitter over the years due to Snow White's freedom, her ability to effortlessly charm a populace while the queen must rely on terror and tyranny to achieve the same level of devotion. Snow White is a far cry from the whiter-than-white prissy girl of the Disney cartoon, a free and wilful girl, with a kind heart: she rides a horse like a man, wear breeches, and can outdrink and out dance most. 

Pinborough also cleverly manipulates other famous Disney-fairy stories into the piece; both Aladdin and Hansel and Gretel are hinted at, while the trilogy of books (Charm and Beauty are out later this year, focussing on Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty respectively) is not so much linear than circular: When reading Poison, there are distinct references to an action that has occurred before, with regard both the characters of the Prince and the Huntsman.

Outside of the character-based subversion, the plot also makes the fairy tales more real in the action itself. Snow White takes the lead in the bedroom, a feminist icon in handy novella form as she does what she will with her life, and leaves no man to command hat she should or shouldn't do, much to the chagrin of the creepy Prince. There is sex, and it is quite sexy sex - there is no fade-to-black, but nor is the sex lingered on for pages and pages: the scenes are some of the best written out there for judgement of tone, and when its right to cut. And besides, any novel that starts with fellatio is bound to be good, right?

There is a twist, and it made me very angry: just as any good twist like that should. Its a testament to how Pinborough builds her characters that we have such a depth of feeling for the character of Snow White by the end that we don't thank god that her namby-pamby prattling is off our screen now, but instead pity her fate and another's mind for what occurs. 

Pinborough lines up her shotgun at the expectations of fairy-tale, and peppers it full of holes. She takes the mundane, and makes it modern, and this is a throughly modern take on the genre, even while using its tropes against it.

Overall Rating: 4.5*

Addendum: Oh the pretty cover! And the illustrations inside! So pretty!

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Youth and Young Fanhood

I live in London, centre of all things UK fannish - probably because its the capital of  England, and where all the publishers are based. So when interesting SFnal events occur, I've started making a pledge to go along to them as best I can, especially when thy interest me. As a result of this, in the last month I've been to a panel discussion on the BSFA awards, Fantasy in the Court at Goldsboro Books, and the launch of Sarah Pinborough's excellent Poison.

I thoroughly enjoyed each evening, and would estimate that the attendees of the three, when put together, make up a significant proportion of London's geek-culture, certainly when it comes to traditional definitions of 'fandom'.

At the Pinborough signing, I was in a circle of discussion with Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Joe Abercrombie, Tom Pollock, Gav Pugh and myself and made a comment about the ubiquitous facial hair on display. All these fine men have equally fine facial follicles, or a similar disdain for razors, depending on how you look at it. I don't, and thus felt slightly naked before their fearsome chin-bristles and authorly might.

The reason I lack chin bristles, apart from an enjoyment of being clean shaven? I couldn't grow a beard if I tried. I'm nigh on 21 years of age, and can't grow a beard. The shame. Some combination of youth and late onset puberty have combined to make my jaw unable to be warmed by the furry friend of fantasy authors. This is embarrassing, but a fact of life, that I shall have to overcome, probably by finding a unique selling point - like wearing glasses, or not balding (unlike most/all of the above... Cheeky)

This has a serious point, however: I was the youngest person at every single one of those three events by at least five years.

If you discount industry, who some (including me) would argue have to attend a book launch or industry-heavy meet-and-greet, I was probably the youngest by eight-to-ten years. This shocks me, and clearly says something about fandom for us to consider, namely: is fandom defined by age?

There are two obvious answers to the questions of youth and fandom. 1) Youth doesn't like fandom, and 2) Fandom doesn't like youth. I'd argue that both are equally applicable.

An article in The Guardian recently pointed out that the last of four key developments in a person's reading life is the ability not to give a shit about other people's opinion of what you read, and just reading for your own pleasure: most youth have yet to reach that stage. - They are busy reading Dostoyevsky because you are meant to read Dostoyevsky. I'm reading Hardinge because I want to read her. I've reached stage

Even where those my age have reached this stage, they just aren't interested. Most people my age are out shagging, or drinking, or smoking, or taking drugs, or being academic, or having existential meltdowns about their lives as they adjust into 'true' adulthood, while facing the end of their secondary or tertiary education. I am not: I am lucky enough to have had a steady (and rather splendid) girlfriend for six years (aww), to have a solid idea of what I want to do in my life (publishing & writing), to have established hobbies (football, reading, refereeing), to not drink often or much, to not smike. In short, I'm a touch odd when it comes to my age group. Youth is not cut out for the rigours of fandom. It lacks the disposable income to pursue it to the nth degree: it would rather go to Aiya Napa than Eastercon.

Most of all, it lacks reader-experience. Once again, I strike myself as an exception rather than a rule in terms of the amount I've read. I read 50+ books a year and yet I haven't read everything by my favourite author in the world, China Mieville. I certainly would be blown out of the water on anything approaching a rigourous discussion on science fiction pre-2012 by any established (or semi decent) fan. Simply because I was 18 in 2011, and had other things on my mind. And this is a difficult obstacle to overcome, especially when attending an event for the first time, unsure as to who or what to talk about.

Fandom as a result does not accept newcomers easily. Its an insular community of authors and fans who know everyone and each other, who appreciate and keep in touch via the interwebs, the BSFA, the BFA, Twitter and the like. To reiterate, everyone knows everyone. This is intimidating. To walk up to Joe Abercrombie in conversation with Mark de Jager is to walk up to people who've known each other as acquaintances, maybe even friends, for five years. I met Mark, when pissed, once at the Goldsboro Books thing. I met Joe once, when pissed, at Blackwell's last year. To integrate, you have to have a presence, establish an identity over time, to join a group that is already formed.

 Youth lacks that easy way in, that knowing-someone-who-knows-someone that is, for some, the key to entering fandom. It lacks the life and reading experience necessary to take the bull by the horns and chat to a randomer about feminism in Epic Fantasy.

Youth is an outsider to fandom, in general not ready for it. But simultaneously, I think fandom is not accessible to youth, to the new, to those unable to grow beards. One day, I'll stroke mine and look at a fresh faced wee lad, and think of this blog.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Wine and Cheese Night: A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge

A Face Like Glass - Frances Hardinge

A Face Like Glass is Frances Hardinge's Kitschie's Red Tentacle nominated book. Its the first of hers I've read, having received rave reviews from Tom Pollock and being nominated for the Kitschies, I felt I had to. I stumbled across a signed copy in Forbidden Planet and it jumped straight to the top of my TBR. an intriguingly fantastic story about twisting, fractured urban spaces? With novel ideas and wonderful worldbuilding? Count me in.

Hardinge's heroine, Neverfell is a mixture of archetype and atypical heroine, a curious blend of (potentially) fatally flawed and prophesied outsider (without the prophecy), come to change the world forever. As a YA novel, I wasn't expecting the nuances and subtlety of Neverfell's heroic character. She lives in a world where every face must be learnt: the more powerful and rich you are, in general the larger the range and subtlety of your facial range. She, on the other hand, appears from places unknown with the titular 'face like glass', unable to control her facial expressions, which belie her every emotional nuance to the world. She is thus unable to lie, and this becomes a focal point within a plot whereby she is captured, escapes, is recaptured ad nauseum.

At points the constantly whirling action becomes a little loose, a little hard to follow, but Hardinge more than makes up for the plots occasional complexity with its intricacies. While I found it easy at points to predict what was happening and where, there were other moments where Hardinge throws a curveball like a boomerang - completely turning the plot on its head. One particular moment is the realisation of quite how effective a plot device 'True Delicacies' are. 'True Delicacies', in particular Cheese and Wine in the book, are  goods that effect the senses that do more than just their primary function. Much of the start of the novel follows Neverfell in the tutelage of Master Grandible, a Cheesemaker, and the preparation for the presentation of the wonderfully named Stackfalter Stalton to the Grand Steward's Banquet. The eating of this provides one with memories that they have nearly forgotten, or need to know. Similarly, Wine in general seems to have an effect on the memory, allowing for the specific forgetting of experiences or time, or the re-remembering of it. This has a great impact of the novel, as Hardinge carefully uses the effect of Wine to manipulate the timescale of the novel's characters.

The plot-beneath-the-plot, as it were, the political ruminations that run through the novel, are just a shade too obvious at times. Yes, this is YA, aimed at the younger reader, but nevertheless, the repressed underclass (in physical space as well as class) of Drudges upon which the upper class artisanal and Autocratic classes rely on eventually rise up, though interestingly not to take power but for a deeper plot aim. This Marxist view of worker-rights seemed just a bit too obvious, too easy. I enjoyed the focus on the middle men and their effects much more throughout, as more nuanced and presenting interesting ideas: the palace servants in particular are vital for Neverfell's plot, and yet represent an Other that has a foot in both the autocratic and Drudge camps. The tools of Artisanal tyranny that the use of Faces, and the rebelliousness of pulling a new Face were also interesting touched upon, but I feel could have been expanded on a little more.

Alas, too much negativity can spoil a broth as much as too many cooks. So lets focus on the best thing about the book: the world. And my goodness me is the world fantastic (in every way). The twists and turns of Caverna, the Catographers, the Kleptomancer (and his very interesting method of predicting action), the Grand Steward... All the chatracters (and I include Caverna itself [herself?] in this) are thoroughly thought out, have individual actions, reactions, motivations. The semi-utopian actions of the plot, which feel a little thin at times, are more than made up for by the utterly delightful world Hardinge sucks you into. Colourful, exotic, beautiful, mysterious, claustrophic, but always utterly astonishing.

A Face Like Glass, therefore, is a novel which wears its YA market on its sleeve, yet makes leaps and bounds in its exploration of character, particularly character when constrained. It emphasises the importance of expressions in order to communicate effectively, the way memory works, how humans can overcome odds and find friendship. It's world is sumptuous. Yes, it has its flaws, particularly in the occasional manner of the central plot, but it is nevertheless utterly beguiling. Please, go and read it.

Overall Rating: 4.5*


There is a great interview by Tom Pollock of Hardinge here
Please also see Maureen Kincaid Speller's much better exploration of the political themes of the book, as well as rather good review, here.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Paul Cornell - London Falling

Paul Cornell - London Falling (#1 of the Shadow Police series)

Paul Cornell is probably best known in genre circles for... well, everything really. According to the ever reliable Wikipedia, he is the only person ever to be nominated for a Hugo in 5 different categories. This makes me impressed. As does his first full size, non Dr. Who, novel.

London Falling is, as the title suggests, and intimately London novel. The metropolis forms the backdrop of the novel, and it feels distinguished by this. I found it impressive that it imbues character into the suburbs, almost moreso than the centre of London that is so well known, and used much more in the recent spate of London novels. Cornell is clearly well versed in London ways, from Walthamstow to Peckham, from the Boleyn Ground to Berkeley Square. With a cross-borough unit of the Metropolitan Police, Cornell has a lot of ground to cover, and covers it excellently.

The plot revolves around the plot to capture a Serial Killer named Mora Losley - when we first meet her, we have recently seen a fairly graphic unexplained murder - this, we see fairly quickly, is due to Losley's influence, using her witch-like powers to kill those who stand in her way. It's a fast, action packed and dynamic detective story, with plenty of twists and turns, and the multi-PoV between the four members of the team works extremely well. Each character is well built and intriguing, with just enough backstory to get us into their heads. However, this has been mooted as one of a potentially long running series, and as a result some major backstory elements have been used up in this book. It will be interesting to see how backstory can be rebuilt in a continued series.

The detective elements were the best part of the story for me. The supernatural element, the Sight, worked well as a foil, but at times went a little overboard. The description of it when it first occurs is suitably overwhelming, for reader as well as character. Flowing into stream of consciousness, paragraphs become one sentence, blur and meld in a very trippy way. While I appreciated the idea of this, I don't think it was quite sophisticated enough to achieve exactly what it had set out to do: instead of disorientating us but still providing description, which the very best of this kind of textuality-as-plot-form ideas do, it served only to disorientate. The jumping between characters in this chapter (chapter 7 mostly) served to disorientate further, especially as we have no idea what the hell is going on at the time. Luckily, it only last 10 or so pages, and then the novel is back to its ripping yarn through the streets of London.

The actual ins and outs of the magic system seem fairly well done, outside of its descriptions. The Sight is something new, something unseen. I've seen comparisons with Buffy floating around in the way it affects characters, and makes them learn about themselves, and this is something I heartily agree with. By being so new, such a novel idea for a magic system, something that ingrains everything through memory, it affects characters in an entirely new way, forces them to confront different things to your usual spec-fic publication.

Finally, the prose. You can tell Paul is a TV writer first - the dialogue is marvellous, snappy, witty, quick, but sometimes the description gets lost in the background - the camera work if you will.

Overall, this is a grittier ride perhaps than Rivers of London or The Dresden Files,  but none the worse for it. It's Urban Police Procedural Fantasy with its heart in London, and its soul in character. It's really very good.

Overall Rating: 4*

I received my copy for free from Tor during my work experience there.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Chinapunk, Genre Boundaries & Space Fantasy

I run a blog that mainly reviews Genre fiction. SFF, as I like to call it, speculative fiction. Thus I'm legally obliged, surely, to have a blog post about genre boundaries, particularly between Science Fiction and Fantasy and the blurring or lackof therewith.

This post comes about following a conversation of twitter with Gavin Pugh (Gavreads), Adam Whitehead (The Wertzone) and Jared Shurin (Pornokitsch), regarding science fiction versus fantasy sales in the UK. Using stats procured from somewhere, Adam made the point that fantasy to SF sales in the UK are about 3:1 and that there are only four million+ selling SF authors in the UK - Peter Hamilton, Neal Asher, Iain (M) Banks & Dan Abnett, to the multiple fantasy authors. This is clearly apparent in those that are easy to define. Rothfuss is clearly fantasy, and made The Times #1. PFH is clearly space opera, the Culture is clearly science fiction.

It is interesting to look at those million sellers subgenre - they are all space opera, which is, arguably, the closest science fiction, so far as it is classicly defined and perceived, get to fantasy - it is, essentially, epic fantasy - it tends to be kingdom on kingdom, epic in scale, just set in space, not on a foreign world. Space ships and advanced tech replace magic systems, and the good guys win. So far, so interesting.

It was Arthur C. Clarke who famously posited that 'any technology sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic' - extrapolating, we get FTL = magic. I think its not particularly arguable that the biggest 'classic' of SF in the last 50 years, Dune, is essentially fantasy in space.

I'd argue, therefore, that Space Opera is barely distinguishable from fantasy. It is the classic fantastic story, of man-saves-the-world, with 'man' and 'world' interchangeable with 'civilisation' and 'universe'. The genre is blurred, even at this, the most extreme and obvious ends of SF and fantasy. It has spaceships, its set in space, it must be SF. Nuh uh. It's an epic fantasy, thrown into a vacuum - Space Fantasy if you will.

There must be a reason for the massive sales of epic fantasy and space opera. These are the most escapist of subgenres, the farthest from the real. To me, this is probably exactly why they sell so much, and almost certainly why fantasy outsells SF, and outpublishes it too - its more of an escape, less of a questioning of reality. Where science fiction gets most interesting to me is where it truly questions and plays with the real, with character, with technology, with ideas. The same with fantasy. Its just Tolkien derivatives are easier.

With regard the original conversation that sparked this, I brought up Mieville, who I'd hazard a guess at being a million seller over his 11 novels. Now, he's written one overtly SF novel, Embassytown, his take on the colonial space opera. But I argued that at least six of Mieville's novels are at least partially SF - Perdido Street Station, Iron Council, The City & The City, Kraken & Railsea, as well as Embassytown. Even the estblished Science Fiction awards say so  - he's won the Clarke thrice with pre-Embassytown books, and the BSFA once. If Liz Williams can qualify that books are 'too fantasy', to paraphrase, for the Clarke award, surely by nominating Mieville 6 times, they are tantamount to saying he is SF? I mean, alternate cities, Steampunk-esque robots, an Alien world full of railways, a machine council.. whats not to SF? But, simultaneously, Mieville is fantasy. He's non-human races in a pre-contemporary technology. He's nigh-on magic. He's beasts that live beneath the fabric of time and space. He's cults, the occult, giant rats, urban fantasy at its peak. He's the winner of a World Fantasy Award.
He is literary. He is uniquely himself. He writes SF and he writes Fantasy: he writes Chinapunk. (An excellently coined phrase, care of Tor editor Bella Pagan)

This is where genre fiction, at least more serious genre fiction, seems to be heading. It's starting to blur boundaries, to mix genres, to not write exclusively within the historical confines of the genres we love. Osama by Lavie Tidhar won a World Fantasy Award - to my mind, its SF mixed with pulp, mixed with boys own adventure - I didn't really see too much fantasy in what was essentially a wonderful parallel worlds story,  but it get recognised for its fantastic nature. It blurs boundaries. My favourite novel of last year, Communion Town by Sam Thompson  does 'litfic' and SF. Hell, it was even nominated for a Booker.

So I guess what I'm rambling about is the breakdown of genre. There will always be those 'easily' definable as SF and easily definable as Fantasy. But they are, at heart, the same stories told in different settings - ultimate escapism of the epic, be it GRRM or Larry Niven. But then there are those that don't fit neatly into genre conventions. They are the one's we ought to be looking at with a critical eye going, hmmmm, maybe the masses don't buy them, but we stalwarts sure as hell appreciate them. They are the descendants of Chinapunk, the city's sons (incidentally, as I make this obvious pun, Tom Pollock has written an excellent piece on genre boundaries recently - go read), the dwellers of the in between place where ideas are constantly forged and questioned, characters blur and meld, and human nature can truly be questioned.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Peter V. Brett - The Daylight War

Peter V. Brett - The Daylight War

Peter V. Brett's latest in his epic fantasy series is an eminently readable, but deeply flawed novel. The third (of five) in The Demon Cycle, expect spoilers for books one and two in the plot summary paragraph (and an assumption of familiarity), and probably scattered throughout further analysis. The Daylight War follows the same cast of characters from the first two books, with a notable exception in the depiction of a back-story for Inevera, Jardir's wife and leader of the Dama'ting. Away from this back-story, which covers Inevera's life and training in her Dama'ting ways, as well as providing the reader with a helpful recap of events up to the point the novel is at, the plot is incredibly focused for an 800 page epic on just over a month. Following the Mind Demon attacks at the end of The Desert Spear, both Jardir and Arlen, our two Deliver-elects, are preparing their respective City-states (or equivalent) of Cutter's Hollow and Everam's Bounty to face another waning of the moon. Only this time its personal! Or something like that, anyway.

In typical Epic Fantasy sweep, we follow the minutiae of our main characters as they overcome any and all obstacles in their way, while learning new and better powers in order to defeat the hordes of demons tat are to come at the waning. As per always with Brett's novels, the world building is fantastic - the demons come to life before our very eyes, and the geographies and civic reactions to events are believable and challenging in their own way. At one point, Jardir and his Khaffit childhood friend Ahmann discuss the method of taking the unimaginatively named Lakton, a town, unsurprisingly, in the middle of a lake. This ultra-defensive position will be nigh on impossible to take if well stocked, so, always eager to find a realistic ploy to work around with real-world events, Mr. Brett sends his characters into action to take the equally inspiringly named Docktown at 'First Snow', a time when all the harvest is conveniently gathered in one place before being levied to the Capital. Yes, there are these little conveniences, but with the crushing bureaucracy of running a fiefdom, central, easy-to-manage decision like this make sense, just as taking this harvest makes excellent sense for Jardir's formative nation. It is moments like this, the large-scale decisions and effect that Brett has done well from the outset of his wonderfully premised world.

It is, however, when we get down to the nitty gritty of character and culture that Brett, and in particular this book, falls down. The first two books had their share of the now obligatory fantasy-rape-scene, which is ugly in and of itself, and made more so by the conciliatory muddy shag that followed, to piece the post-gang-rape-very-sad Leisha back together. Because yeah, that'd happen. But, in general, I felt books 1 & 2 dealt altogether OK with gender and sexual issues. Hell, there is even some homosexuality thrown in and it isn't frowned upon. In fact, its considered normal (in the most part. Except when there is a bit of homosexual rape gratuitously thrown in.) But The Daylight War really takes the biscuit when it comes to gender issues in its fantastic setting.

Jared, over on Pornokitsch, gives this utterly compelling Hatchet Job. I'd advise you all to read it, if only to see what a truly wonderful hatchet job looks like, but also because it puts, much better than I do, the gender issues within the book into the open.

For me, the book's main issue with gender is neatly summed up by the last line of chapter 27:

"A great man does not fear his wife will steal his glory. He uses her support to reach even higher"
Yup. That's right guys. All a girl is is a leg up, or a leg over at times. They certainly aren't something to worry about if your in power - if there's a powerful woman, she'll be passed around like a tavern wench, like Leisha is, or maybe tied down by strict and nonsensical cultural cliches, like Roger's two wives. And when they have, or develop, a power of their own, be sure that blokes will have got there first, or be in control of it somehow. Like Renna, following Arlen like a puppy and never reaching his ability, nor her potential, as she sacrifices her own free will to be more like him. Or, once again, Roger's two wives who have a magical, mystical power to their voice that can harm demons... But only when Roger controls it. Women have vaginas - that's their only weapon that they can use, and even they are controlled by the whims of men. In a particularly cringeworthy moment at the end of Inevera's training as a Dama'ting, her virginity is taken by a large phallic stone, wielded by the head of the Dama'ting, while the rest of the Dama'ting, all naked and perfectly shave apart from their heads, watch on. Because that's not male-masturbatory fantasy in a nutshell. Following this, Inevera, who has a magical demonbone macguffin that pretty much grants one wish (in a pre-Deliverer culture is one of the most powerful things around) uses it not for protection from harm or as a potential weapon or anything realistically simple, but to remake her hymen. Because a woman who beds a man and is not a virgin is no woman at all. Obviously.

Suffice to say, that gender treatment is dodgy at best.

Aside from that, the treatment of culture is equally dodgy at times. The Krasians are an obvious Islamic analogue, and their depiction is almost at no point a forgiving one. They are depicted as obsessed with fighting demons, with honour above all things, with multiple wives, with females as massively socially inferior (even more so than in the rest of the world). Oh, and they're non-white, so obviously the bad guys. When the cultures blend, it is dealt with well at times, occasionally subtly, and there are moments when you think that these Krasian's might even be becoming somewhat progressive. But for all that, they still think women are objects, men and male children slaves to war, and have no value for artistry or similar. And the only homosexual relations mentioned are within Krasia, which makes me feel as though this is a subtle rebuke against homosexuality, and that it shouldn't, nay couldn't, go on in a civilised society.

And breathe...

And finally. The ending. It's where we should end. Its crap. Jardir and Arlen spend the end of the plot rushing headlong into more and more power, pretty much rendering the last two books exposition, and nothing more as they both become nigh on superhuman: being able to fly, teleport, read minds etcetera. So MAJOR SPOILER ALERT naturally they fight each other and not the demons. Because that's internally consistent. It's all a bit rushed, as though Peter V Brett went 'Oh dear, I seem to have written 750 pages and had the waning most of the plot has been leading up to but don't have a major set piece ending - I'll bung one in for no apparent reason'. I didn't buy it, and I don't see how it isn't going to end in Jardir getting up to fight again, by developing exactly the same powers as Arlen, which he has all along.

In conclusion, then, The Daylight War is a decent-ish book if taken for the plot, and as a follow up if you enjoyed books 1 and 2. There's so much more I could say about it, but the major pitons are all above. It's hard going if you have a conscience about the way the Other than the white, male Anglophone is depicted. Hell, it's hard going full stop past around page 500. I'll pick up books four and five if only because I've invested so much in the story so far, but if your new to the series? Don't start it. It will only disappoint once you get this far.

Overall rating: 2*