sheliak: Tik-Tok from the Oz books, reading a book. (reading)
[personal profile] sheliak
Well, not reread exactly, since I listened to the audiobook. It's the first book in a projected series of five; book four is due out next month.

The short and non-spoilery version: Julius, a dragon who exists at the bottom of his sprawling dysfunctional family due to a combination of youth and inconvenient ethics, and Marci, a geeky and vengeful human mage, meet in the DFZ, a corporate dystopia of a city built on top of the ruins of Detroit and ruled by the nature spirit of the Great Lakes. He's been given one last chance to shape up before his mom eats him, and she's on the run from the mob boss who killed her dad. Together, they try very hard not to die. (If you're put off by the title, as I originally was: the book is way more charming than it implies.)

I love Marci: passionately obsessive about her work (to the point of not realizing she's in danger, more than once); aggressive and proactive; mercenary, but with an ethical core. And Julius. He's a smart, self-aware pacifist, and the narrative lets him be one without ever going easy on him. (Rather the opposite.) He's a very sympathetic underdog. They both are, really; the difference is that Marci's moments of triumph usually involve defeating the entities who scorn her in combat, while Julius's involve unexpectedly pulling a win-win scenario out of a dire situation.

The narrator really is very good; occasionally a little over-emotive, but not by much, and he puts on a good variety of voices for the major characters. (The voice he does for Bob is admittedly kind of annoying, but I'm pretty sure that's the point.)

Pretty much everything beneath the cuts is spoilery, mostly for later books in the series as well as this one.


A lot of the characters' actions read very differently in the context of the rest of the series. Especially Bob (who after all is planning the rest of the events of the series), but everyone else too. Ian and Svena are clearly already tentatively plotting to found a new clan, for example.

That scene where Bob tells Marci that he chose her is interesting on reread. I don't think I even really noticed it the first time. But in retrospect—she's the human bound to the new Mortal Spirit, which is in effect a death god. She's the one character who might be able to stand against Algonquin directly, and Bob's favorite sister is going to give her half her fire. (She might or might not be the means to Amelia's resurrection.) Of course he chose carefully!

And there's a scene where Julius briefly considers what his family might do if someone succeeded in killing Bethesda. (Well, Chelsie and the Fs would throw a party, but he doesn't know them personally at this point.) And it makes me wonder if that's going to happen. She's both a mainstay of the series and a character with literally no redeeming qualities; it'd be almost disappointing if she survived all five books, but her death would also be a major problem for Julius to deal with.

Of all the minor characters, I got sad about Jessica this time. Jessica went into medicine against her mother's wishes. That's probably a weird profession for a dragon—especially when she practices in the DFZ. She seems like a jerk and all, but I'm kind of sad that she never gets developed beyond "status-conscious jerk" before being killed off.

The Black Reach comes off pretty differently here than the next time he shows up, although it might just be that Estella brings out the curmudgeon in him. (He says she's an "overwrought young seer" and complains that she woke him up at seven thirty in the morning to give her that last warning, but he also seems kind of fond of her at times.) And him calling her the longest-lived seer ever, besides himself, becomes more impressive when we get the reveal about his true nature.


But the main thing I picked up on this time around was another of Bob's not-so-random actions.

After Julius, Marci, and Justin make it out of the fight with Bixby and his goons, Bob isn't there to pick them up, and they have to fight magic eaters for several blocks before they get to him. On first read, this was just more of Bob's being erratic. This time I finally figured out why he did it!

What happens in that gap? Well, Justin loses his temper and transforms in the DFZ, which results in Chelsie confiscating his Fang; that kickstarts his arc for the next book. And Marci loses the cosmolabe. Which Estella promptly picks up, kickstarting the main plot of the next book (and everything that comes after, really).

Bob spends a lot of the second book on the defensive; when I first read it, I assumed he'd really been blindsided by Estella's move, and that his late-stage confidence was a new thing. But in retrospect... nope, he planned it. Not all the details—I think he really was upset, angry, and off balance in the middle there. But he planned for what Julius does at the very end... which means he planned for the early stuff too.

He's very good at his job.

This is why I like rereading this series so much—something always pops out at me on reread.
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Sheliak

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