Saturday, 8 September 2012

Review: Worldsoul

Worldsoul by Liz Williams

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I remember reading a book by Liz Williams before, though I'm not sure of the title. I think it was [b:The Poison Master|317443|The Poison Master|Liz Williams||308259]. As I recall, I was a little disappointed that, with such wonderful materials to work with (Dr Dee!), she had crafted a less-than-amazing book.

She's improved since then, clearly. I enjoyed Worldsoul, especially the second half (the first half I found a little slow-moving). The setting, a magical city more-or-less powered by story, is wonderful, and she doesn't waste too much time on setting-exploration for its own sake, but at the same time conveyed a wonderful sense of a fascinating place.

What I did find less than wonderful was the constant cutting back and forth between multiple viewpoint characters. It's a technique that takes careful handling, and for me it was a little overdone. Each of the characters was interesting and distinctive, but it made the already-complex plot harder to follow.

There were also one or two moments that disturbed my immersion a little by seeming to mix technological levels. At one point, one of the viewpoint characters goes to another room and checks with someone in another part of the city on the bona fides of another character. We're not shown or told what mechanism she uses to do this, whether there are telephones that are never explicitly mentioned anywhere and that hardly anyone else uses, or if there was a magical means of communication, or what. I would rather have had some other means of checking used, like a veracity spell or something, that didn't break my conception of the world.

Apart from those quibbles, Worldsoul was very much to my taste, and I'm glad to see that it's the start of a trilogy.

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