[LMB] The Spirit Ring Monreale

catherine muir c_muir68 at hotmail.com
Tue Sep 14 21:26:27 BST 2021

I wonder, are there some points which could explain much of the criticism of the book –

  1.  The introduction of Fiametta in Ch. 1 and Thur in Ch. 2 begins their development further back than we might expect;  both are, in effect, in their “bad” place for growth – Fiametta learning everything she can but not allowed to profit by that learning openly; Thur doing what he can in a job which uses his strength but not the skills he can and should be developing.  Part – but by no means all – of their arcs bring them to a place where each can contribute more and grow more.  However, if we read this as the sort of “him and her” book which, say, Andre Norton frequently wrote, we will be confused by the amount of apparently extraneous development.

This is a book with more than two characters to follow.

  1.  The comment by Fiametta that none of them could have done what all of them combined could do seems to me the “aha!” moment of this book – compare Miles’ “My name is Vorkosigan” in TWA,  Cazaril’s realisation of where his road started in CoC; Ivan’s “That’s just not right” in CC and so on.   But Fiametta’s comment, and Monreale’s response, points us towards the idea that what Herself was aiming at may have been  a book with, granted, two viewpoint characters, but narrative arcs  for five -  Benforte and Uri as well as the other three have agency to lead the story forward.     Perhaps this was a feat better left to a future work – CC, where five viewpoint characters interact with a supporting cast – but here we see a tryout.

So, adding to my earlier comments on this being a first run with religion as part of the main landscape,
I am seeing this as the work of an author still developing.

No, this is not my favourite book; but I am beginning to understand why it had to be a standalone.

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Tidsel wrote, about Monreale on 14 September:

<< I find him a good character and like him mostly, but can't help feeling more could be done with him, if he had been the 3rd. main character.>>

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