Saturday, January 03, 2009

The City in the Lake

By Rachel Neumeier.

A girl trained as a mage heads off to the City at the center of her Kingdom after various calamities strike her village (i.e., babies are all born dead).

This book is written in a style similar to Patricia McKillip's, although it lacks some of the vivid and startling language McKillip uses, at least in her later books. This may intentionally reflect the gravity of most of the characters but likely it's just the author of a first novel developing her craft.

Most of the characters have an overabundance of self-control; although they seem more solid than cardboard, most are in no danger of being overwhelmed by emotion, either.

The atmosphere is very much that of a fairy tale: Timou lives in a Kingdom with a Forest and a City, courtiers are shocked at the suggestion that they might pluck out the jeweled eyeballs of any lizard they found by the pool where the Prince disappeared, and Timou's quest is a matter of perception and careful choices rather than the application of force.

In the end, I think this book shows quite a bit of promise, and anyone who enjoys McKillip will probably want to check it out. Also, the book stands alone in a way that makes me guess there won't be a sequel.

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