Author: Ellen Kushner
Published: 1987 (Bantam Spectra)
Date Started: February 23, 2012 Date Finished: March 19, 2012
Rating: Four stars out of five
Worthy of Note: I found out about this book through Neil Gaiman’s blog when he was doing some promotions for the audiobook of this novel. When I bought my copy, I found a glowing review from George R. R. Martin on the cover and praise from about every fantasy writer worth admiring on the inside. Before reading the opening sentence I knew Kushner meant business.
Snow was falling on Riverside, great white feather-puffs that veiled the cracks in the facades of its ruined houses…
I will confess that around page 100, I considered putting this book back on my shelf. The writing was beautiful – Austen-like in that each word was too precious to be passed over – but so much of the story up to that point had been about the nobles on The Hill, who did a lot of scheming and seducing but not much else, leaving their dirty work to swordsmen like Richard St Vier, who appealed to me much more.
Luckily, a mere four or so pages later, Kushner reminded me why I am so stubborn about finishing books. Perhaps it was because Richard and his lover, Alec (who captured so much of my literary fangirl attention that he nearly hijacked the main plot), pulled a lot more focus around that point, or because the political Hill schemes started to have bloody consequences, but the book quickly became impossible to put down.
The universe began and ended within the reach of his senses, the stretch of his four limbs and the gleaming steel.
Between the complicated web of promises and lies up on The Hill and the simple but brutal truths of life in Riverside, Kushner created a world that allowed for a near-transcendent reading experience. I look forward to experiencing the audiobook, only my fourth and the first outside of the Moorehawke Trilogy by Celine Kiernan.
I trust that it will be amazing. After the revelation that was Swordspoint, my days of distrusting Ellen Kushner are far behind me.