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Melusine by Sarah Monette
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Melusine (edition 2006)

by Sarah Monette

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1,070547,815 (4.05)90
Member:Jenson_AKA_DL
Title:Melusine
Authors:Sarah Monette
Info:Ace (2006), Mass Market Paperback, 496 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:fantasy, wizards, thieves, epic quest, LT author, owned

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Melusine by Sarah Monette

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English (53)  German (1)  All languages (54)
Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
I was congratulating myself just yesterday on how long it had been since I'd shelved a book as "did not finish". I jinxed it.

I really wanted to like this, I'm really excited to read Sarah Monette/Katherine Addison's Goblin Emperor and when one of my friends had this on her shelf I figured I'd give it a go before I had a chance to pick up a copy of the Goblin Emperor.

Wrong.

It's well written, I'll give it that. She's doing a lot of great show don't tell description and worldbuilding, the two characters' voices are distinctive and different - that stuff is all great. I don't even mind the uneven perspective scene lengths and time given to each character, I think it's refreshing.

But.

I started reading this yesterday and almost straight off the bat I had a feeling I'd be putting it down. I wanted to push through to 100 pages because I know the spec fic rule of thumb of giving the author space to set up their story. But that wasn't even the problem. I didn't really like any of the characters. Mildmay was fun and interesting, but his story hook wasn't strong enough on its own for me to continue and it certainly didn't overcome my problem with Felix. There is nothing sympathetic for me in this character, we didn't get to develop any feelings or respect for him before he's a whiny, depressed and pathetic person. He's every Mary Sue trope for what broken things look like and how to make your anti-hero dramatic.

(Side note to Monette: rape isn't a character building or plot device thing. Especially not twice in 50 pages. It's not even melodramatic or sympathy enducing in this case, it's just... ugh)

Basically, this book hit a giant wall really early that I couldn't get past. It's unfair to review a book I haven't finished, in a way, but also the fact that it had such a large and subjectively offensive problem right up front for me is enough.

One star. Didn't finish. Hit the wall.

(I'm still going to try thh Goblin Emperor, though...) ( )
  heaven_star | Oct 20, 2014 |
I was congratulating myself just yesterday on how long it had been since I'd shelved a book as "did not finish". I jinxed it.

I really wanted to like this, I'm really excited to read Sarah Monette/Katherine Addison's Goblin Emperor and when one of my friends had this on her shelf I figured I'd give it a go before I had a chance to pick up a copy of the Goblin Emperor.

Wrong.

It's well written, I'll give it that. She's doing a lot of great show don't tell description and worldbuilding, the two characters' voices are distinctive and different - that stuff is all great. I don't even mind the uneven perspective scene lengths and time given to each character, I think it's refreshing.

But.

I started reading this yesterday and almost straight off the bat I had a feeling I'd be putting it down. I wanted to push through to 100 pages because I know the spec fic rule of thumb of giving the author space to set up their story. But that wasn't even the problem. I didn't really like any of the characters. Mildmay was fun and interesting, but his story hook wasn't strong enough on its own for me to continue and it certainly didn't overcome my problem with Felix. There is nothing sympathetic for me in this character, we didn't get to develop any feelings or respect for him before he's a whiny, depressed and pathetic person. He's every Mary Sue trope for what broken things look like and how to make your anti-hero dramatic.

(Side note to Monette: rape isn't a character building or plot device thing. Especially not twice in 50 pages. It's not even melodramatic or sympathy enducing in this case, it's just... ugh)

Basically, this book hit a giant wall really early that I couldn't get past. It's unfair to review a book I haven't finished, in a way, but also the fact that it had such a large and subjectively offensive problem right up front for me is enough.

One star. Didn't finish. Hit the wall.

(I'm still going to try thh Goblin Emperor, though...) ( )
  heaven_star | Oct 20, 2014 |
Although I would probably lean more towards 3.5 stars, this novel proved to be incredibly addictive, which I found particularly surprising since, after a certain event that happens in the early chapters, I wasn't even sure I wanted to carry on reading it. However, I persevered and was rewarded by one of the most individual and brilliant narrators I've ever come across. Full review coming soon. ( )
  Leander2010 | Jul 21, 2014 |
The first book in Sarah Monette's Doctrine of Labyrinths series, Melusine drops the reader into the middle of a 17th-ish-century Europe-esque fantasy world where those who can wield magic hold political and social power. The story follows two denizens of the city of Melusine--Felix, a wizard with a secret past, and ex-street urchin and thief Mildmay--and switches between their points of view. Within the space of a few pages, both Felix and Mildmay become entangled in the political and magical struggles of the city through seemingly minor missteps of their own which end up utterly altering their lives.

The details of the world Monette has built are rich, fascinating, and immersive, and much of what makes this such a great read comes from her ability to wrap the reader up in those details. However, striking the balance between over- and under-explaining in world-building is tricksy, and Monette may have erred a bit on the side of under-explaining here. I really felt dropped into this world, and the lack of any sense of big picture for the world in which the story takes place made the read a little claustrophobic. That effect may have worked well in telling the story, but I think a little bit more catching the reader up wouldn't have gone amiss (the calendar and counting systems still elude me, even after I looked up the author's own explanation of them on her website). Most of the filling-in and figuring-out I had to do while reading added to the experience and helped form the layers of the fantasy world, but some of it was just distracting.

But I was completely caught up in the story throughout, and the novel manages to avoid dragging in the middle (a frequent failure, I find, of fantasy novels). I was also equally invested in both Felix's and Mildmay's stories and points of view, which attests to Monette's ability to create interesting characters and keep the overall story moving despite working with parallel narrative lines. Melusine deals with some dark, dark stuff (abusive mind-games, rape, murder, torture, violence--it hits the hurt/comfort trope hard, mostly on the hurt end of things, at least in this entry in the series), but does so compellingly and without becoming depressing or squicky (for me--YMMV, of course). While the book does not end on a cliff-hanger, it does leave all kinds of plot threads and emotional arcs tantalizingly dangling, and I'm looking forward to getting my paws on the next book. ( )
1 vote lycomayflower | Feb 19, 2014 |
Read while traveling. I didn't have a good reading environment for enjoying this until midway through, and then I was hooked. I need to reread the first half at least, though. I have a feeling I missed some important details.

...

Okay, I've reread enough to write a coherent review.

Mélusine was a much more intense, disturbing, and violent book than I was prepared for, and so reading it was in some places extremely disturbing. But if you don't get squicked by rape, torture, mindfucks, or insanity, then it's quite good. :)

The world-building is incredibly vivid, although the crazy math system is very confusing. The trouble with it is that the immersion of the reader into the world-specific details is rapid and not entirely clear. The investment in the characters and their stories is enough to mostly make up for that, but it's still an unnecessary distraction from the reading experience.

Not many books satisfy my craving for detailed settings, but this has fabulous description that is at the same time in character for the point-of-view character to notice. Really beautifully done.

I was worried in a couple of scenes that things would descend to clichéd D&D dungeon-crawls, but they didn't. There were some really wonderful left turns that made the whole thing feel new, but also hearken back to a Tolkienesque legacy.

There are two more books in the series, and the happy ending of this one makes me want to pick up the next book *now*, but I admit I'm hoping that the worst of the horror done to Felix and Mildmay is over with.

3 stars instead of 4 because with hurt/comfort fic, I need a greater balance of comfort at the end than this gives to feel content with the ending. ( )
3 vote sageness | Feb 7, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sarah Monetteprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
York, JudyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This is the worst story I know about hocuses. And it’s true.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0441014178, Mass Market Paperback)

Mélusine-a city of secrets and lies, pleasure and pain, magic and corruption. It is here that wizard Felix Harrowgate and cat-burglar Mildmay the Fox will find their destinies intertwined in a world of sensuality and savagery.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:23:25 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"Melusine - a city of secrets and lies, pleasure and pain, magic and corruption - and destinies lost and found." "Felix Harrowgate is a dashing, highly respected wizard. But his aristocratic peers don't know his dark past - how his abusive former master enslaved him, body and soul, and trained him to pass as a nobleman. Within the walls of the Mirador - Melusine's citadel of power and wizardry - Felix believed he was safe. He was wrong. Now, the horrors of his previous life have found him and threaten to destroy all he has since become." "Mildmay the Fox is used to being hunted. Raised as a kept-thief and trained as an assassin, he escaped his Keeper long ago and lives on his own as a cat burglar. But now he has been caught by a mysterious foreign wizard using a powerful calling charm. And yet the wizard was looking not for Mildmay - but for Felix Harrowgate." "Thrown together by fate, the broken wizard Felix and the wanted killer Mildmay journey far from Melusine through lands thick with strange magics and terrible demons of darkness. But it is the shocking secret from their pasts, linking them inexorably together, that will either save them, or destroy them."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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