association-list a veritable mint for dunning-kruggerands

20 - The Drowning City, by Amanda Downum

This book was more or less OK. It strikes me that it’s a little bit too by-the-numbers to really enjoy, but that it’s a competent instantiation of its particular formula, and thus (since it’s a good formula, generally) pleasant enough. I don’t mean to damn with faint praise here. This is a good, polished book for a first novel, and squarely hitting the middle of the road on one’s first outing is impressive. My primary technical complaint, I suppose, is that Downum is perhaps too eager to prove that her viewpoint character isn’t a Mary Sue, that this isn’t just a particularly good transcription of a D&D game, and in so doing largely robs her protagonist, Issyt of any agency in the resolution of the story. There are other characters with more agency than the viewpoint character, but by the end you start to wonder why Issyt (how do you pronounce that, anyway?) has any screen time at all. The one thing that she does in this story could have been just as easily done as a quick insert of backstory in the next novel where she encounters the other character in question. Perhaps the main problem I had with the novel was a lack of economy. Pages and pages were wasted kicking the crap out of the interfering foreigner, and too little time was spent with the local characters who actually make the story go. It’s understandable that the author wants to spend time with her primary character, but she should likely be given more to do in future novels (that said, it’d be an interesting experiment in form if someone were to do a series like this that never featured its nominal protagonist as a primary viewpoint character).

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