December 12th, 2010

pondering, bowie

Review: A Star Shall Fall by Marie Brennan

A Star Shall Fall (Onyx Court, #3)A Star Shall Fall by Marie Brennan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I happen to know the author of this book. I don't think that this much changes my opinion of the book, and I don't think any of my readers are expecting journalistic standards of objectivity from me anyway, but I feel like I should note it.

So, there were actually a couple of reasons why I almost didn't read this book. First, I hadn't actually read the first two volumes in the series, Midnight Never Come and In Ashes Lie. I intend to remedy this inexplicable omission quite soon, but it didn't actually harm my enjoyment of this book at all. While I'm sure there were sequences that would have had more richness if I'd read the previous volumes, everything you need to know to grasp what's going on in this book is explained in the text.

Second, I'm unfairly suspicious of novels involving fairies, because I'm always afraid they'll be twee. These fairies are about as un-twee as you can get, while still being very definitely magical. I particularly liked that these fairies are multicultural (a Greek centaur and an Arab djinn feature in the book), that they have internal politics, and that their interaction with the mortal world is a bit more complicated than them just having fun messing with mortals' heads. (Don't worry - they definitely have fun messing with mortals' heads. But there's more to it than that.)

Anyway, what's really cool about A Star Shall Fall is that it's a fantasy novel that's utterly steeped in science. In the previous book, the faeries dealt with a dragon that was threatening London by trapping it in a comet. Halley's comet, actually. So, in this book, it's 75 years later, the scientific revolution is in full swing, and the comet (with dragon) is on its way back. So the faeries attempt to tackle the return of the dragon as a scientific problem, and eventually enlist a few mortal scientists, who attempt to tackle the fairies as a scientific problem. It probably helps if you're the right kind of geek, but I really enjoyed the exploration of the faerie realm as one that may not obey our physical laws, but nevertheless operates by rules that can be investigated by the scientific method.

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