[LMB] OT: fave romances; was TSK: ch3

Sylvus Tarn sylvus at rejiquar.com
Fri Dec 8 02:27:01 GMT 2006

On Tue, 2006-12-05 at 23:40 -0500, Paula Lieberman wrote:
> I think the couple marry during the book in The Toll 
> Gate, but don't remember for sure. ...

Hm, I think that was the one in which the grandfather was considered
`milky' in character---as contrasted to the Unknown Ajax, in which the
grandfather was an abusive bastard:  but he was ok, and beloved by his
granddaughter, despite the way he treated everyone in the family.  She
was the only family member `who stood up to him', but her victim blaming
attitude towards people who couldn't---her own mother for example---was
irritating.  But Heyer couldn't stand timid, cautious characters,
particularly male ones---if they weren't `pluck to the backbone', they
were despised.  Sir Peter, in the Toll Gate was treated more gently than
most, but still considered weak.  

Made me crazy.

> Hmm, I'm not sure I would describe Snow Queen as a romance,
> particularly not given its sequels the first of which I can't remember
> and the subsequent book, The Summer Queen...  someday I should go read
> Tangled up in Blue, which is a prequel to the series, followed by the
> other three books...

Though _Snow Queen_ is a great many things, it first and foremost was
described by its author as a retelling of the classic fairytale, in
which a girl rescues her sweetheart from the evil Ice Queen.  So you
could make the argument that the story is more about Moon's growth as
she attempts her goal, which is to rescue Sparks.  But since it is her
desire to rescue him that drives her---not, I grant the only thing, but
certainly the overriding thing---I'd argue the story *is* a romance.
Now, given a choice between becoming sybil and rescuing Sparks...?
Well, I think she would've chosen being a sybil.  But she manages both.

Problem is, their goals start diverging nearly from the beginning of the
book, when she becomes a sybil, and, when this is denied him, he follows
his dream of meeting his starfaring father, and perhaps ...oopsie, I see
this will be a spoiler---but we do see quite an optimistic future for
Sparks by the end of Summer Queen.

I don't know that I would call _Tangled Up in Blue_ a sequel, exactly.
It, like _World's End_  (sincerely hope I have the title right this time
around) is more like an `inquel', a little story embedded during the
years in which Snow Queen takes place---but from the point of view of a
minor character (the offworld woman peacer) in the first book.

Though I bought the book immediately as soon as it came out in
hardcover, I didn't feel it was as strong as the earlier (in terms of
writing chronology) three books.  Unfortunately Joan Vinge was in a
really nasty car accident some years ago, and it affected her ability to
write.  It wasn't clear to me (nor, perhaps to her,) when or whether
she'd recover.  She writes very slowly as it is, so I don't know when
we'll get something else in either the Tiamat or Psion universes.

World's End is sort of an interlude between Snow and Summer Queen, (or
an inquel to Summer Queen) and is the story of how BZ Gundhalinu
restores his family fortunes and honor after losing Moon, whom he loves
very deeply, in the first book.  She barely appears in the story which
is set on a completely different planet, yet the love between them is
beautifully portrayed.  It is my favorite, oddly enough.

Summer Queen was every bit as complex and sprawling as Snow Queen, but
some of the cleanliness of the world-building, and motivation of
characters was shifted.  I thought the changes made for a good---even
more realistic---story, but preferred the original world view better.
Otoh, Moon & BZ finally manage to get together in the second book,
though I actually enjoyed romance between BZ and his artist wife as much
or more as his eventual connection to Moon.  (Not just an artist, but an
artist that wore beads!  Yes! And didn't put up with misogynistic
bastards:  the scene in which she revenges herself on BZ's asshat
brothers and meets him for the first time---wearing the beads---is fab,
and one Vinge read at a con.  Very happy memory, similar to the time I
got to sit right next to LMB as she read the infamous butter bug scene
from ACC.)

> The male leads aren't the foci of the stories, romance isn't the
> focus.  In The Hero and the Crown, Aerin starts off dragonhunting on
> small dragons, as something to do with herself, she's restless, she
> hasn't fit in all her life, she feels trapped...

Well, I'd say romance is the focus in _Beauty_, at least once she meets
the beast.  And it's a pretty strong element in _Blue Sword_.  It's not
nearly as important in _Crown_, which I sort of threw in there as an
example of the difficulties of matching the abilities of the
protagonists.  Luthe matches her abilities, but most of their
relationship, one assumes, takes place after the book ends.  During the
book, yes, it's all about her ability to figure out her place in the

Stagman:  now, I've read this several times, but I keep thinking of the
one about the healer who goes and saves the king/prince then returns
with a priceless shawl which she drops into the pond while rejoinging
her goblinish boyfriend.  Sigh.  Can't bring the plot of Stagman to
mind, how aggravating.

> there are a lot of snarky [romances] out there these days....

There are indeed, but the snarkiest seem to have even less romance in
them than the McKinleys above. 

>> Carla Kelly did in _Mrs. Drew Plays her Hand_. 

---This is perhaps the most popular of this author's books.  Kelly is
often compared to Heyer, but her tone is *much* more serious. I consider
them among the more intelligent regencies out there.  She's written a
number of books in the regency era, often featuring military men.  Drew
is an exception, about a `rakish' nobleman and a widow who end up
running off to Gretna Green, and Kelly engineered the need for them to
do so very carefully.  It's one of those expedient marriages plot, but,
as I said, she sets up the plot very carefully, and it's obvious that
she's trying to include a lot of cliches besides the mad dash to Gretna.
Great fun from a generally rather sober author.

sylvus tarn

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