Friday, August 14, 2009

Prospero Lost

By L. Jagi Lamplighter.

So Miranda Prospero, daughter of Prospero, Dread Magician (you know the one), is sitting in her study, minding her own business, when she receives a message from her father saying that her whole family is in great danger and that she should warn her brothers (and sister). Well, actually, she's not really minding her own business since she finds the message in one of her father's journals.

I think this is a very well written book, not only because of the descriptions and characters and pacing, but because of how it works on multiple levels. Superficially, it's a combination adventure-mystery with Miranda working to find her siblings and figure out what's going on. At a deeper level, it would be very hard to miss the theme of slavery and freedom. Not only is her father responsible for keeping an entire race in slavery, Miranda herself is extraordinarily obedient to his wishes, though whether supernaturally so is up for debate. (Barely. Several characters suggest the latter, and she does at least one thing which is extremely hard to accept otherwise.) While most of the characters are not exactly well-rounded, this seems to be more a family flaw than anything else: it is readily apparent to this reader, though perhaps not to Miranda, that her family's troubles have been building for several hundred years.

To put it plainly, they are deeply twisted. Mephisto is mad (maybe), Theo is sad and the rest are like selfish children. Despite Miranda's age, neither she nor the rest seem to have grown up much. She herself doesn't recognize empathy when it hits her (several times: "How strange! I had never before made the error of mistaking another person for myself" -- or words to that effect). Not that she's wicked, but naive and devoted to her family, and callous towards people she doesn't know, at least initially.

I wish I could say I loved it but since this is only the first part of three, I'm afraid of how the trilogy will end. This book certainly didn't end how I hoped it would, although the ending it does have seems strangely inevitable in retrospect. In addition, Miranda's world (or at least her own beliefs) seem to be Gnostic in nature, which I found quite disturbing when touted as truth -- at least the truth of her world.

I really did enjoy this story but it does end on a suspended note and has some disturbing elements. That said, I still think it has quite a bit of merit and I recommend it pending the release of the second and third volumes. And Mab is a great character.

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