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Maledicte by Lane Robins
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Maledicte (2007)

by Lane Robins

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2171053,683 (4.08)15
  1. 10
    Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner (FicusFan)
    FicusFan: Very Similar 'Period' Fantasy Feel, a Black Comedy of Manners
  2. 00
    The Bone Palace by Amanda Downum (ligature)
  3. 00
    The Duke in His Castle by Vera Nazarian (ligature)
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This book uses the intriguing trope of "girl disguises herself as boy to navigate a man's world" and starts out with strong promise. For me, though, the dark power and sexuality is diminished under the weight of too many characters and too much overly subtle intrigue. I would recommend Mélusine by Sarah Monette and Kushiel's Dart by Jacquleine Carey before this book.

See my full review at SFReader.com: http://sfreader.com/read_review.asp?t=Maledicte-by+Lane+Robins&book=1367 ( )
  amysisson | May 17, 2014 |
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Maledicte is Lane Robins' debut novel about Miranda, a street urchin whose best friend Janus is the bastard son of the King's brother. Janus has been reclaimed from the streets, and therefore stolen from Miranda, because his father has no legitimate heir. Miranda, in her grief, makes a deal with an evil god (who everyone thought was dead), gets a scary-looking sword, and sets out for vengeance. She manages to enter noble society dressed as a boy (named Maledicte) under the patronage of a lecherous old man, the only one who knows her secret.

The publisher's description of the book is misleading. First of all, the court is not "seething with decadent appetites unchecked by law or gods." It's just your average king's court full of gossiping courtiers. Not seething, and no more decadent that any other court I've ever read of. There really wasn't much political intrigue either. Then enters "a handsome, enigmatic nobleman, Maledicte, whose perfect manners, enchanting charisma, and brilliant swordplay entice the most jaded tastes..." He may have been handsome (not very well described), but I didn't find him (her) particularly enigmatic, enchanting, or charismatic. His manners were not at all perfect (which was the only reason I could find for the courtiers to consider him enigmatic), and his swordplay was not brilliant. Really, (s)he was just an sulking angsty girl trying to be bad, and she didn't seem so bad to me at first. I couldn't really understand why her behavior was so scandalous because all she did was draw her sword and mouth off to a couple of nobles. I think it was supposed to be witty mouthing-off, but I found it rather obnoxious. If the court was really seething in decadence and intrigue, Maledicte's behavior shouldn't have caused such a scandal. To me, the court seemed like a bunch of priggish gossips who were blown away when Maledicte acted like a spoiled brat. I just wasn't convinced. And I was bored with Maledicte.

Then, just as I'm thinking that this book is not as bad as it wants to be, suddenly Maledicte starts murdering people ruthlessly, a drive instilled by a hungry god. This god (and the other apparently dead gods) were not well described, so I had a hard time understanding or relating to this. In fact, not much was well described -- not the city, the court, the house where Maledicte lived, or the political and religious systems. The only motivation of Maledicte's that was described was his/her constant drive to kill Janus's father (whose name is Last), which seemed a bit unrealistic to me. All the father had done was to take his bastard son off the streets and raise him to be a nobleman. Not really a reason to murder him. And, we get no back-story on the relationship between Miranda and Janus, either. I never saw Janus as "the lover whose passion still haunts her dreams" since I never saw any dreams or passion until they were reunited. Again, I wasn't convinced that this was realistic behavior. Maledicte keeps on murdering people (and not very cleverly--she just jumps them at convenient moments) and shows no remorse or internal conflict. This goes on and on an on and I found myself searching for some reason to like Maledicte and some reason to care what happens to him/her. But I couldn't -- (s)he was utterly unlikable all the way to the end. In fact, only two characters were likable: Maldedicte's servant Gilly, and the king. But, both of them fall in love with Maledicte, even after seeing him murder people with no remorse. I had a hard time believing that, too.

But Maledicte is mostly very well written, and for that reason I think Lane Robins has a promising future as a writer. Sometimes the writing was over-done, resulting in vagueness, and points of view shifted unexpectedly, causing occasional confusion. The novel is character-driven, yet most of the characters were not as well fleshed-out as they should have been and I had a hard time understanding what drove them. But, all in all, the writing was better than a lot of what I've read by authors who have been publishing for decades, and I think I will pick up the next book that Ms. Robins writes. I just hope it won't be about Maledicte.
Read more Lane Robins book reviews at Fantasy literature. ( )
1 vote Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
I read this book 7 years ago and the pictures it paints in my mind are as vivid and powerful as ever.
This is a story filled with dark motifs and vengeful gods during a time of medieval court. If you like any of those themes you will most certainly like this book.
I hope to revisit this review once I have reread it, but for now, here is one quote that I still whip out on occasion:
"You are a hopeless romantic." "It is an incurable disease." ( )
1 vote MooqieLove | Feb 22, 2014 |
After the love of her life, Janus, is stolen by Lord Last who hopes to make his bastard son heir, Miranda swears she will do anything to get him back, even pledge herself to Ani, the dead goddess of Vengence, who may not be so dead after all, and become the ward of the lascivious old courtier Vornatti. The road to revenge is a long one, one that sees her become the dark and mysterious courtier Maledicte. In the corrupt and treacherous court, Maledicte has only two who he can trust to help him regain Janus, his friend and servant Gilly, and black Ani inside him...

I really liked this book a lot, but I'm still digesting it to see if I loved it, because it certainly didn't end the way I thought it would. It reminded me a lot of a slightly 'darker, and edgier' version of the world depicted in Ellen Kushner's 'Swordspoint' and The Privilege of the Sword', what with all the debauched and corrupted courtiers and aristocracy and the desperately poor and savage Relicts. The way it dealt with gender and identity was really fascinating to me, the way Maledicte mostly displaced Miranda, and how Ani fought to displace Maledicte.

There's a sequel, but it doesn't seem like Maledicte is in the sequel, which makes me not as enthusiastic about it, because I really loved Maledicte. He was one of my favorite characters I've read recently. ( )
1 vote shojo_a | Apr 4, 2013 |
After the love of her life, Janus, is stolen by Lord Last who hopes to make his bastard son heir, Miranda swears she will do anything to get him back, even pledge herself to Ani, the dead goddess of Vengence, who may not be so dead after all, and become the ward of the lascivious old courtier Vornatti. The road to revenge is a long one, one that sees her become the dark and mysterious courtier Maledicte. In the corrupt and treacherous court, Maledicte has only two who he can trust to help him regain Janus, his friend and servant Gilly, and black Ani inside him...

I really liked this book a lot, but I'm still digesting it to see if I loved it, because it certainly didn't end the way I thought it would. It reminded me a lot of a slightly 'darker, and edgier' version of the world depicted in Ellen Kushner's 'Swordspoint' and The Privilege of the Sword', what with all the debauched and corrupted courtiers and aristocracy and the desperately poor and savage Relicts. The way it dealt with gender and identity was really fascinating to me, the way Maledicte mostly displaced Miranda, and how Ani fought to displace Maledicte.

There's a sequel, but it doesn't seem like Maledicte is in the sequel, which makes me not as enthusiastic about it, because I really loved Maledicte. He was one of my favorite characters I've read recently. ( )
  shojo_a | Apr 4, 2013 |
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To Jane Gunther for always asking -- did you get any writing done? There wouldn't be a book without you
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In the southernmost tip of the island kingdom of Antyre, a carriage set a rapid pace through the city streets of Murne.
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"Seething with decadent appetites unchecked by law or gods, the court of Antyre is ruled by the last of a dissolute aristocracy. But now to the kingdom comes Maledicte, a handsome, enigmatic nobleman whose perfect manners, enchanting charisma, and brilliant swordplay entice the most jaded tastes ... and conceal a hunger beyond reckoning." "For Maledicte is actually a woman named Miranda - a beautiful thief raised in the city's vicious slums. She will do anything - even promise her soul to Black-Winged Ani, the most merciless of Antyre's exiled gods - to reclaim Janus, her first love, whose kidnapping still haunts her dreams. As her machinations strike at the heart of Antyre's powerful noble houses, Miranda must battle not only her growing bloodlust but also Janus's newly kindled and ruthless ambitions. As Ani's force grows insatiable, Miranda has no choice but to wield a weapon that may set her free ... or forever doom her and everything she holds dear."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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