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wshaffer
Review: Snake Agent by Liz Williams 
1st-Aug-2011 09:49 pm
tea-or-book


Snake Agent (Detective Inspector Chen #1)Snake Agent by Liz Williams

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


As with The Iron Khan(the fifth book in the series, which I read first), I didn't like this book as much as I wanted to, although for rather different reasons. This book was less epic in scope, but richer in setting detail. It was also more strongly plotted, especially for the first half. I thought the first half of this book was a pretty darn good fantasy police procedural. I felt that the plot lost momentum when the bulk of the action moved to Hell, although part of my disenchantment with the story at that point stemmed from the fact that I was expecting some idiot plotting that didn't actually happen. (Basically, I was expecting Inari's decision not to return to Chen to result in dragging out his search for her pointlessly because she was avoiding him. I was also expecting Zhu Irzh's becoming enamored of Inari without realizing that she was Chen's wife to lead to all sorts of idiocy. In actual fact, when Inari becomes aware that Chen is looking for her, she decides to seek him out to tell him to go back without her. And Zhu Irzh's mistake is disposed of with an equally economical, "Whoops! She's your wife?"/"Yeah, sorry about that." conversation. Is it fair to criticize a book for idiot plotting that didn't actually happen? Probably not, but I can only have the reading experience that I had. Maybe I'd enjoy the book more on a second read, with my expectations properly set.)

Really, I think my biggest problem with this series is that I'm not all that enamored of the characters. Chen's not really all that lively a personality, and I found Inari frankly annoying in this book. (I liked her better in The Iron Khan.) If I keep reading the series, it will be for Zhu Irzh, who really is kind of fun as the demon who is unfortunately burdened with a conscience.

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Comments 
2nd-Aug-2011 11:32 am (UTC)
"I wanted to like this more than I did" is my perpetual experience of reading Liz Williams books, sadly.
2nd-Aug-2011 07:32 pm (UTC)
It's a pity - they're doing so many things right, but they're just not there, somehow.
2nd-Aug-2011 05:38 pm (UTC)
Have you ever seen Hard-Boiled? From about five pages in, Chen and Zhu Irzh were being played in my head by the protagonists from that movie -- not by Chow-Yun Fat and Tony Leung, mind you, but their characters. It made me fond of them for no particularly good reason right off the bat.
2nd-Aug-2011 07:46 pm (UTC)
I did see it, though it was long enough ago that my memories of it are a bit fuzzy. I think I can see how that would improve the book.

My Overgeneralizing Brain suggested to me that perhaps I should apply this to the next novel I read and see if it improves it. However, it just so happens that the next novel in my reading queue is Midnight Never Come, so I have persuaded My Overgeneralizing Brain that that is a Bad Plan.
2nd-Aug-2011 07:48 pm (UTC)
. . . casting movie characters as book characters in general, or those two in particular? o_O
2nd-Aug-2011 07:53 pm (UTC)
The latter. (Is trying really, really, really hard to get the image of Lune toting a pair of 9mm pistols out of my head.)
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