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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"Prospero Lost" by L. Jagi Lamplighter (Reviewed by Liviu Suciu)

Official L. Jagi Lamplighter Website
Order "Prospero Lost" HERE or read an excerpt using the "look inside feature"

INTRODUCTION: I heard of "Prospero Lost" for a while but I never thought I will read it since it did not seem a book of great interest for me; in consequence I did not request an arc but when I saw it in stores, I opened it just to "do my duty" so to speak since I tend to open all new sff releases in bookstores just to get an idea of what's what. It hooked me from the first page so I bought it that day and it went to my top of the reading pile, while some 350 pages later I was still entranced and the announced sequel "Prospero in Hell" became an asap book for (hopefully) 2010.

OVERVIEW: Since escaping its island imprisonment described by Shakespeare - though that is just the official version approved by the Order of Solomon that keeps a lid on all things magical (!) - the sorcerer Prospero well, prospered; though his beneficent rule of Milan ended in flight in the 1500's and Miranda got jilted at the altar by Ferdinand, Prospero married several times across the centuries, got 6 more children beside Miranda, gave all them powerful magical staffs, founded Prospero, Inc which allowed science and technology to flourish leading to our current 21st century world by smoothing the dealings of the powerful supernatural beings and harnessing the elements so "science rather than chaos" works...

The company, Prospero, Inc is not perfect as our bloody and full of misery history shows, but the alternatives are too dreadful to contemplate. When the sorcerer disappears and leaves a message of danger and peril to Miranda who is his only child that remained active in the family business and lives in the Oregon main US mansion of the family, she needs to investigate and make sure that the "Three Shadowed Ones" do not wreak havoc on her family and on humanity at large.

Oh and Miranda is the "Lady's" handmaiden which allows her access to the "water of life"; this substance is what kept Prospero and his family immortal and is desired by all and sundry, at least the ones in the know, but it is very hard to get involving a long journey to "world's end" as well as being impossible to store except in special vials that only Miranda has.

And of course all depends on Miranda remaining a handmaiden with all that name implies, but if she can get to be a Sybill which is the supreme mortal rank in the "Lady's service", she will be free to marry, have children and so on...

"Prospero Lost" stands at about 350 pages and is narrated by Miranda. Mab the "incarnated wind" - aerie - chief detective of the family who resents deeply his "slavery" but is compelled to obey by Miranda's flute and Mephisto, her ne'er-do-well brother, moonlighting as a homeless lute player on the Chicago streets at the beginning of the novel are the other main characters. The ending is superb with a twist that will be explored in the next volume, though of course nothing is solved here so we need to wait for "Prospero in Hell".

ANALYSIS: "Prospero Lost" is another book of the "immerse in beautiful writing, expansive imagination and enjoy the ride" type which I so love when the novel in question engages me. Jasmyn, White is for Witching, Mortal Coils, and two upcoming releases that will be reviewed soon, The Choir Boats and Her Fearful Symmetry are similar books and in all, the one crucial factor is sustaining the suspension of disbelief. You engage with the novel and "live" in its world, you will love it, but do not look for consistent or detailed world building, deep psychological insights or non-stop action since then you will be disappointed and start nitpicking all of these kind of missing the point.

"Prospero Lost" is also quite whimsical and all creatures from myths, legends and fairy-tales make some appearance or are mentioned in its pages - or at least it seems so... While you can read an extended excerpt through the Amazon link above, the one line below represents the book well:

...Mephisto, and I had gone to Switzerland to meet with a yeti and discuss avalanches...

The novel is also strongly dependent on its narrator's voice, Miranda the 500 year old daughter of Prospero who has to solve the mystery of her father disappearance, keep civilization going by smoothing the dealings of supernatural beings which has been Prospero Inc mission for a while, warn her brothers and sister about the Shadowed Ones that Prospero belatedly let Miranda know about and just maybe finally become a Sybil so she can marry...

Mab and later Mephisto form a great counterpoint to Miranda's voice, Mab the "noir cynical detective" with a twist, and Mephisto, the clinically insane - or is he? - brother who somehow manages to see things clearer many times.

And there is Santa Claus first seen in a Mall of all places, the mixture of magical and mundane, hints of the big picture, snippets of past events with cameos of historical personages and events just to mention some more of the few goodies in the novel. And of course, not to forget, one of my favorite mythical beast, a Roc bird makes an appearance just in time to deal with a troublesome dragon that was attacking Miranda's plane, while another favorite, the Phoenix has an indirect role in the book so far.

A delight from page one to the end, Prospero Lost was another big positive surprise of 2009.


Anonymous said...

This may be an excellent book, but thanks to the way she comports herself online and in person at conventions, I'll be giving this one (and every one from her) a miss.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like an interesting book. Immortal Shakespaerean characters involved in a top-secret worldwide organization to hold society together--I have to admit, I've never quite read the like of it!

Rachel Heston Davis

Cindy said...

I have this on hold at the library and I'm curious to see how I enjoy it.

As far as how the author conducts herself, I really do try to take personal views and lay them to the side.

Danielle Ackley-McPhail said...

I must say that I am saddened by the cancerous campaign being waged against L. Jagi Lamplighter. Having known her personally and professionally for over eight years, it is wholy undeserved and the result of one misconstrued comment that was not meant in the manner it was taken. I say with full confidence that she is the last person in the world to be bigoted or prejudice. So one word, "girl"--which she applies regularly to herself as well--has spawned and internet-wide anonymous slander campaign. I find this a very sad thing both for her, who has not earned such malevolence, and for the perpetuators, who do not believe in their own "righteousness" indignation enough to attach their name to their hateful comments and will not thus take the time to know a lovely and truly virtuous woman who has more understanding and compassion in her than I do.

Anonymous, you should all be ashamed of yourselves. You are doing the same thing to her that you accuse her of doing to others, only less honestly.


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