Williams - The Sundering

July 19, 2004

Walter Jon Williams - Dread Empire's Fall: The Sundering
New York : Harpertorch, 2004. ISBN 0380820218 (pbk.)

This is the second volume in the WJW trilogy, and the book I finished last night.

More than the first, this is a book that I enjoyed reading but do not expect to re-read.

The interesting thing about this one is that Williams is wrestling with how to keep the careers of two highly capable people interesting for the reader - how can he cause complications that do not appear to be either MaGuffins or author-imposed plot twists? His answer comes in the form of story - the characters act according to their nature and their fears, and as a result things do not go as well for them as they might. One of the things that separates Williams from other space opera or light science fiction authors is that he really does believe in Aristote's notion of characters who strength is their weakness. All his people have tragic flaws, all have attractive qualities, all have their own compelling story. This is a very good thing.

Alas, other than the love triangle and an interesting plot twist at the end, the book left me a little flat. A good book grabs me and I can not put it down. This one was nibbled to death over about six weeks.

I am increasingly intrigued by the juxtaposition of Ajah from his Metropolitan and City of Fire and Sula from these two. Both are powerful and compelling characters. Oddly, two of his three most compelling characters are women, the third is the KKK sheriff from The Rift - his attempt to make some retirement money by writing a big blockbuster disaster novel. Hmm, well, maybe the sherrif from Days of Atonement also qualifies - I wonder why Williams is best at writing about strong willed but morally ambiguous women, and charismatic, ambitious, lawmen?

Posted by Red Ted at July 19, 2004 03:03 PM | TrackBack
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