Fantasy Round 35: The Autumn Republic
These novels are amazing. I’ve written about the first one — Promise of Blood — before, and I’ve opted to hold off on writing about the other two until I had finished both of them.
They’re really good.
Revolution to Republic
I’m not quite sure how to summarize the political machinations that go on across the trilogy. The whole mess starts out oozing French Revolution, from the guillotines to the rivalry with a nearby nation (Kez rather than Britain) to the eventual formation of a republic with elections and so forth. The industrial revolution continues apace.
That being said, there’s a lot which is unique to the predicament of Adro — from the fact that it has land borders with all the nearby nations (including Kez), to the war the Kez initiates almost immediately, to the summoning of Kresimir.
I’m pretty sure nobody called down gods during the French Revolution.
Nonetheless, the political aspects touch on a large variety of intriguing issues — “war crimes” and issues of fair play, as well as how the personal impacts the political.
Speaking of which…
Retirement = Death
Tomas, you shouldn’t have.
Across the second novel, and even more strongly in the third, Field Marshal Tomas is looking forward to retiring and not being in charge of the country and the military anymore.
So, obviously, he’s obliged to die a heroic death in a last stand against the two faces of Brude.
This ending has shades of Shakespearian tragedy — fate cannot let Tomas’s bloody regicide go unanswered. That, and, well, if you talk about looking forward to retirement…
It also has implications for Tomas’s son, Taniel. In a way, Tomas’s death sets him free to fake his own death, and duck out from being Second Minister — a role that Tomas forced Taniel to promise to accept, but for which Taniel was unsuited, and knew it.
On the other hand, Taniel was quite suited for another job:
This is one of the best setups of an underlying sliding scale to magical power that I have encountered.
In the first book, we encounter the Privileged, who are essentially like typical fireball-style wizards, and they need special gloves to manipulate the “Else” which allows them to do magic. The most powerful of them can reduce the rate at which they age.
We also encounter the Predeii, who are super-powerful Priviliged, who still need the gloves but can live for centuries or longer.
In the second book, we encounter Nila: a Privileged who does not need the gloves, and who is described as perhaps the most powerful Privileged born in Adro in six hundred years.
Is it then any surprise that the third book reveals that the Nine Gods are merely nine (well, ten) nigh-immortal and supremely magically powerful humans, born millenia ago? They founded countries and religions, but eventually got bored and withdrew. Except for three.
Adom, who cares for his country and people, sticks around in the background to help it out.
The other two are the two faces of “Brude,” who were in fact born as fraternal twins: Cheris and Lord Claremont. They want to embrace the Revolution, and remake the world in a better way, and are willing to steamroll everyone else because, you know, they should be in charge. Oh, that includes murdering all their deified “siblings” to keep them from interfering…
I still love Lord Claremont’s defining line, as he runs for First Minister of Adro: “I am a modern god.”
This whole development, however, leaves me with one lingering question:
Did Cheris Have a Shadow in the Second Book?
And, if not, why didn’t Adamat (the inspector with a truely flawless memory) notice its absence then?
Really. I mean, there’s a few hints that Vetas has been god-touched (his ability to drink large amounts without effect), but beyond that… I’ve done a little searching, and didn’t quite find the hints I was hoping for.