Book: Nobody's Son - Livre d'Or








Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes. * Blogroll * Strange words * More links * Bookies * Microblog * Recent comments * Humans only * Second degree * By topic * Cool posts * Writing * New post

Tags

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *



livredor
Book: Nobody's Son
Thursday, 22 September 2005 at 09:04 pm
Tags:

Previous Entry Next Entry


Author: Sean Stewart

Details: (c) 1995 Sean Stewart; Pub Ace 1995; ISBN 0-441-00128-9

Verdict: Nobody's son is really sweet!

Reasons for reading it: I've been wandering around London, and the book I was intending to read next I don't have in a format that I can put in my handbag, so I grabbed something more portable.

How it came into my hands: Present from rysmiel.

I don't think I've read anything so utterly charming since Bridge of birds. I just wanted to hug the book. Well, that's not true, I actually did hug it, but then I decided it was the story I wanted to hug, not the physical book, because one paperback is much like another as far as hugs are concerned. It's packaged as a book about what happens after the happy ending of a standard fairy-tale type quest, but it's really a coming of age story. Mark is just perfectly the kind of 20-year-old boy who annoyed me when I was 20 myself by not having reached the level of maturity I'd expect from someone five years younger, and he spends the book getting over himself and letting his inner likeable bloke out, which is a really charming thing to read about.

It's not even slightly subtle; it spells out Mark's thought processes and even the psychological theories by which his character is to be understood. There are really huge hints when the magical bits are being symbolic of facets of Mark's character. And it's really obvious who of the people he encounters at court is decent and who is planning to stab him in the back. But even with that, there are some real twists in the plot and Mark's experiences seem as novel to the reader as they obviously are to him.

In many ways, it's a very vivid character portrait, though. It really conveys the frustration of not knowing the social rules; the narrative never mocks Mark and it's just the right balance of cringey and sympathetic. The depiction of Mark's existential angst and grappling with mortality is surprisingly powerful, too. And the romantic bits are utterly endearing but I could still taste just what it's like to be Mark and in love.

There were a couple of little things that annoyed me about it. It makes too much of a point of the fact that Mark actually thinks about sex! And swears! I don't mind either of those things but it's too self-conscious about breaking genre expectations in that way. The very naive socialism grates slightly. And it jarred a bit that the religious background is apparently Christianity even though the story is set in Fantasyland, but hey. I sort of wanted to get annoyed with the fact that the book is oh-so-edgy in having an explicitly lesbian minor character but then dismisses her feelings as just a preliminary to her getting into a real relationship with a man, but the characters concerned were just so sweet I couldn't hold on to that annoyance.

Nobody's son is really a heartwarming book; I thoroughly recommend it to any fantasy readers, especially if they need a bit of cheering up!


Moooood: touchedendeared
Tuuuuune: The Pogues: Blue Heaven
Discussion: 3 contributions | Contribute something
Tags:

Previous Entry Next Entry




Contribute something
View all comments threaded



lethargic_man: default
From:lethargic_man
Date:September 26th, 2005 01:21 pm (UTC)
3 days after journal entry, 02:21 pm (lethargic_man's time)
(Link)
I haven't read this review beyond your verdict, as I haven't yet read this book, though it's been on my to-read list for years. Having just realised I'm almost out of unread reading matter, with the High Holydays approaching, I shall add this to my list of books to get before then, so thanks for pointing me at this.
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
lethargic_man: reflect
From:lethargic_man
Date:February 28th, 2006 07:44 pm (UTC)
158 days after journal entry, 08:44 pm (lethargic_man's time)

Nobody's Son

(Link)
It's packaged as a book about what happens after the happy ending of a standard fairy-tale type quest, but it's really a coming of age story.

*nods* I didn't actually find myself getting into it until halfway through when the plot begins to transcend its predictable nature and the character stuff comes to the fore. After that, though, I found the second half made up for the first.

There were a couple of little things that annoyed me about it. It makes too much of a point of the fact that Mark actually thinks about sex! And swears! I don't mind either of those things but it's too self-conscious about breaking genre expectations in that way.

Well, it did surprise me, given how it's a YA book.

And it jarred a bit that the religious background is apparently Christianity even though the story is set in Fantasyland, but hey.

That grated for me too (though the mere fact of monotheism would not have), and the general half-hearted worldbuilding. I like the whole history, and the concept of "grandfather days" and so forth, but a bishop belongs in that history, as rysmiel would put it, like a mackerel in a hedge, as did names like Mark and Valerian (Roman), Gail (Hebrew) and Richard (Germanic).

It got me thinking of both rysmiel's WiP AD, which has RW names intrusive into a fantasy world, but a solid in-story reason for it; and also of the epilogue of the Patrizia thread of Eon, which I loved at first reading, but on further thought became aware of the worldbuilding defects of, leading me to muse on how if I had written it I would fix it. :o) (Have you read Eon? I'll not say further if you haven't.)

I sort of wanted to get annoyed with the fact that the book is oh-so-edgy in having an explicitly lesbian minor character but then dismisses her feelings as just a preliminary to her getting into a real relationship with a man, but the characters concerned were just so sweet I couldn't hold on to that annoyance.

Er, to be pedantic, one bisexual major character and one lesbian minor character whom the male protagonists, who are explicitly portrayed as not having much insight into the minds of women*, consider ready for a "real" relationship, but who shows little sign of interest in the man who is interested in her, and whose degree of attraction to men is never actually indicated one way or the other.

* "'I wonder if the ladies too have talks like this. Are they confused and hapless when it comes to matters of emotion? Could it be our loved ones struggle also as we do, though the dim obscurities of the heart?' ¶ Val and Mark stared at one another. ¶ 'Nah,' they said."
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
lethargic_man: recent
From:lethargic_man
Date:March 7th, 2006 11:19 pm (UTC)
166 days after journal entry, March 8th, 2006 12:19 am (lethargic_man's time)
(Link)
Oh, and I was also going to say that I thought the north-of-England dialect worked well too, given that the author appears to be USAn. (There was only one place for me where the use of a USAnism in the narrator's voice clashed for me.)
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)



Contribute something
View all comments threaded