- Adventures In Reading
- Beauty In Ruins
- Best Fantasy Books HQ
- Bitten By Books
- Bookworm Blues
- Charlotte's Library
- Civilian Reader
- Critical Mass
- Curated Fantasy Books
- Dark Wolf's Fantasy Reviews
- Edi's Book Lighthouse
- Everything is Nice
- Falcata Times
- Fantasy & SciFi Lovin' News & Reviews
- Fantasy Cafe
- Fantasy Literature
- Far Beyond Reality
- Genre Reader
- Jeff VanderMeer
- King of the Nerds
- Layers of Thought
- Neth Space
- Only The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy
- Pat's Fantasy Hotlist
- Rob's Blog O' Stuff
- Smorgasbord Fantasia
- Speculative Book Review
- Stainless Steel Droppings
- Tez Says
- The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
- The Bibliosanctum
- The Book Smugglers
- The Nocturnal Library
- The OF Blog
- The Speculative Scotsman
- The Vinciolo Journal
- The Wertzone
- Tip the Wink
- Val's Random Comments
- Voyager Books
- Walker of Worlds
- ► 2016 (143)
- ► 2015 (136)
- ► 2014 (155)
- ► 2013 (260)
- ► 2012 (287)
- ► 2011 (317)
- Spotlight on May Books
- "The Hourglass Door" by Lisa Mangum (Reviewed by C...
- "The King of the Crags" by Stephen Deas (Reviewed ...
- "Neverland" by Douglas Clegg (Reviewed by Cindy Ha...
- "New Model Army" by Adam Roberts (Reviewed by Livi...
- Winners of The Emerald Storm Giveaway!
- "Calamity Jack" by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale Illust...
- Two Mini-reviews and One Unreview - "The Juggler" ...
- Quick Blog Note: Fantasy Book Critic's Comment Mod...
- "The Celestial Globe: The Kronos Chronicles Book T...
- "A Magic of Dawn" by S.L. Farrell (Reviewed by Liv...
- "The Dark-Eyes' War: Book Three of Blood of the So...
- "The Noise Within" by Ian Whates (Reviewed by Livi...
- “Blood Oath” by Christopher Farnsworth (Reviewed b...
- Twelve 2010 Novels that Stand Out So Far
- "Shadows of Myth and Legend" by E.J. Stevens (Revi...
- "The Desert Spear" by Peter Brett (Reviewed by Liv...
- "13 Treasures" by Michelle Harrison (Reviewed by C...
- "Up Jim River" by Michael Flynn (Reviewed by Liviu...
- "Changes. Dresden File #12" by Jim Butcher (Review...
- "A Mighty Fortress" by David Weber (Reviewed by Li...
- "Shine: An Anthology of Optimistic SF" edited by J...
- "Ash" by Malinda Lo (Reviewed by Fábio Fernandes)
- "The Age of Zeus" by James Lovegrove (Reviewed by ...
- Interview with N.K. Jemisin (Interview by Mihir Wa...
- "The Barbary Pirates" by William Dietrich (Reviewe...
- "Subterranean" by James Rollins (Reviewed by Mihir...
- "Bitter Seeds" by Ian Tregillis (Reviewed by Liviu...
- "The Great Bazaar and Other Stories" by Peter Bret...
- "Poetry Speaks Who I Am" Edited by Elise Paschen S...
- "The Emerald Storm" by Michael Sullivan (Reviewed ...
- Spotlight on April Books
- ▼ April (32)
- ► 2009 (466)
- ► 2008 (376)
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Official Michael Flynn Blog
Order "Up Jim River" HERE
Read an Excerpt from the Novel HERE
Read FBC Review of "The January Dancer"
INTRODUCTION: "Up Jim River" is the direct sequel to "The January Dancer" which I described as a "Celtic space opera" in my review linked above. Since "The January Dancer" was published in 2008 which was a superb year for sf novels, it barely missed my top 5 but it was of that caliber and last year it would have easily been my second sf novel of the year. So these were the very high expectations I came to "Up Jim River" and they were mostly but not fully met, mainly because of a structural issue I will touch upon in the analysis.
FORMAT/CLASSIFICATION: "Up Jim River" stands at about 320 pages divided into 18 very evocatively named chapters. The book starts with a glossary of characters and a map, while the ending is just superb, setting up a third book that should be a cracker. The main POV's are the interlude ones from "The January Dancer" - "the Harper" Mearana and "the Scarred Man" Donovan, but almost everyone of importance from The January Dancer makes at least a cameo appearance.
"Up Jim River" is mostly a Vancian travelogue with the universe of "The January Dancer" taking place of Vance's Gaean Reach, so while it takes place in a space opera context, the novel is closer to a picaresque adventure than anything else.
OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS "Up Jim River" starts 20 years after the main events in The January Dancer but immediately after the interludes that tell of those events.
We reconnect with the main characters from the novel, but here the story is simpler - Lucia Thompson aka Mearana, the 19 year old daughter of "Hound" Bridget-ban - super agent for the League, one of the two main powers of the universe and the "good guys" - is looking for her disappeared mother; of the three men who were with Bridget on the January Dancer mission and which all incidentally can be Lucia's father though it's pretty obvious soon who is the one, two are also Hounds/Pups and the organization had looked for Bridget for two years until officially giving up, so Lucia has the only choice to find Donovan aka The Fudir aka The Scarred Man aka The Teller of Tales in The January Dancer as we saw then without really knowing the subtext until very late in that novel.
Donovan who seemingly stole away with the treasure from Bridget, Hugh and Greystroke, was in reality broken by his former masters, "Those of Names" who lead the Confederation, the other major power of the series and "the bad guys" and now is a useless drunk with 7 personalities warring in his head, though the Fudir and Donovan are the two dominant ones.
Of course Mearana "convinces" Donovan to help her look for her mother at least for a while and together they embark on a trip that will take them to quite strange places.
So Up Jim River is a "travelogue" novel, with Mearana and Donovan retracing Bridget's path and exploring the odder corners of the League and its boundaries and here lies the main weakness of the novel in that the attempt to create weird cultures falls somewhat flat because it conflicts with the Celtic flavored archaic language of the novel and the result is partly messy, partly silly and only occasionally convincing, while descending into farce at least once with a so called "Emperor" that only wants to escape his planet and stiffing duties. Since the respective planet was devastated in an Earthquake and Bridget led the rescue mission for the League and "annointed" this minor bureaucrat as "Emperor", the personage in cause tries to use the coming of Lucia to run away with quite silly results. Adding to that the mannerisms of Donovan's acquired servant Billy which are way overdone and Billy's dialogue is very annoying in a way The Fudir's was not in The January Dancer.
On the plus side, Donovan makes for a great character with his warring personalities, inner conflict as well as the need to deal with the legacy of mistrust as far as the League and the Hounds goes, while Mearana is quite endearing and you cannot help but root for her to find if not her mother, at least concrete evidence of Bridget's fate.
There is action and intrigue, the big secret that Bridget had been investigating is revealed in appropriate drips and drabs, but some of the major twists of the novel are seen too easily. Up Jim River has enough goodies - superb style, page turner, characters and action - to compensate for the flawed structure so I would still rate it an A but I expected more after the superb A++ of The January Dancer.
The sequel implied by the ending seems to get back to the large scale picture so I am definitely interested; the universe imagined by Mr. Flynn is superb and has lots of possibilities, but the choice of the archaic Celtic-peppered language which worked so well in The January Dancer since it added depth to the space opera feel, backfires here when it makes most of the multiple "weird" cultures that form such a main part of the novel, feel a bit silly and make-believe.
12:01 AM | Posted by Liviu | | Edit Post