Sunday, 11 September 2005

Book Review: The House of Storms (Ian R. MacLeod)

Continuing my pledge to post a book review every weekend (which pretty much FORCES me to READ the books in the first place), here is the short review of Ian R. MacLeod's The House of Storms, the sort-of sequel to The Light Ages, which I reviewed some time ago HERE.

Oh, and I decided to do away with the 'Main Characters' section of the reviews, mainly because I'm too lazy to think of what to write there, and besides, the characters are usually mentioned in the synopsis already anyway...


Title: The House of Storms
Author: Ian R. MacLeod

The age of aether still reigns; its pale glow illuminating the land. All bear the mark of aether's extraordinary influence, except the changelings, banished to Einfell, that strange land untouched by the Age of Industry, that lay at England's troubled heart.

When Great Grandmistress Alice Meynell, ruthless matriarch of the Great Guild of Telegraphers, brings her son to Invercombe, west of Bristol, she expects him to die there. Though her power and grace are legendary, not even she can halt her son's disease. In desperation she travels to Einfell, to seek favour from one who once trusted her.

And Ralph is cured. Far away from the filth of industrial London, he is drawn away from his family responsibilities to the world of nature and to a fisherman's daughter Marion Price. Together they plan to run away, to defy the rule of the Guilds, even to change the world and how it sees itself.

But Alice will not let love stand in the way of her in her insatiable lust for power - nor the very land she professes to love - even if it means plunging England into a long and bloody civil war.

What I liked:
  • After The Light Ages, I'd wanted another book set in the same world, with aether.
  • The setting and the chracters are well-developed as usual
  • The ending was quite thrilling, in a pretty understated kind of way (which means - I don't know how to describe it)
  • Alice Maynell is one despicable woman! Ok, maybe not THAT despicable, but you WANT to read about her getting her just due!
  • Still a pretty cool parallel England to the real one

What I didn't like:
  • A bit slow at parts
  • Not as compelling as The Light Ages, maybe because I'm not that big a fan of family dramas (which this book is quite heavy with)
  • Some parts just bored me. I think it was slightly too overloaded with details at one point.

A lot of what I think about this book I already mentioned in my review of The Light Ages HERE.
So I'm not gonna repeat myself.

Anyway, like The Light Ages, MacLeod's parallel world is described so vividly that you can't help being sucked into the world yourself.

However, like The Light Ages, I also couldn't decided whether I like this book or not. One one hand, the thought of a parallel world run by aether is fascinating, but on the other hand, I can't help the feeling that that world would also be a GREAT setting for something a lot more er... action-packed (ok, ok, PULP FANTASY-styled) story.

Don't get me wrong, The House of Storms is a pretty good read in its own right, but sometimes, it gets bogged down with a little too much detail. And one has to read VERY SLOWLY to grasp what is happening.

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