Tuesday 18 March 2014

The Boy With the Porcelain Blade - Den Patrick

I found The Boy with the Porcelain Blade quite a difficult book to get into, the story alternates between the past and present which takes a little getting used to. Also the central character, Lucien, is really rather hard to like, he is self centred and arrogant; the inner conflict, that I think is the point of him, comes across more as mild sociopath at least until you start to learn a little more about the Orfano. Having said this, once you do get beyond the first ten chapters or so, the story opens up and begins to draw you in further.
The world featured here is Italianate in nature, and has a deeply Renaissance flavour. Think Assassin's Creed, meets The Borgias, meets classic high fantasy. All names are Italian, and a set few untranslated Italian phrases are used throughout the novel. I have to say that I found these to get a little repetitive and slightly irritating due mainly to their frequency in the text. The world itself is nicely imagined, complex and quite complete in terms of socio-political structure and full back story. There has obviously been a great deal of thought put into the myths and history of the world which does add depth to the experience of reading this novel. The whole feel is deeply Gothic, and in fact starts to feel more like a horror story towards the end. Most of the common fantasy elements are here a crazy king, a tormented hero, loyal retainers and a mystery to uncover.
There is a really good story here, and the characters grow on you; which is a good thing as their conflicts are the main focus. It just takes some time to get into it's stride, which is a shame as I do think that the start may well put some people off. Book two is out in the near future and it will be good to see how the story progresses there. 

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