Breaking my books diet! Rope of Thorns, by Gemma Files

I’m going to hold off from any extended analysis until I’ve read the last one, because there’s still a lot of plot stuff to get wrapped up, but Rope of Thorns was a worthy successor to Book of Tongues. A number of the things I’d said were vague in the first book get explained better here (re: the Aztec mythology and Rook’s motivations), Ed Morrow gets more developed as a character, and some kickass ladies join the cast.

There’s less of what I enjoyed the most about Book of Tongues — Chess and the Reverend being crazy about each other, all over each other — but my worry that their relationship would drop off the map was premature. Despite spending most of the book a couple hundred miles apart, they are still at the center of each other’s universes, for good or for ill.

And Chess Pargeter — brutal, callous, contrary Chess Pargeter — is shown to be that rarest of things: a character who can change.

The tragedy will be if Rook can’t do the same.


In other news, I’m also reading John Boswell’s Same-Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe, which is enormously intellectually stimulating, but also very slow going, since his style makes the process more like gymnastics than reading. Hint: brush up on your Greek. (And Latin, and Slavic, and French, and Aramaic, and…)

I think a Guy Gavriel Kay would not go amiss for my next fiction book.

7 thoughts on “Breaking my books diet! Rope of Thorns, by Gemma Files

  1. I finished Book of Tongues, and loved it. My big worry was about Chess because despite everything,he is my favorite character. Thank you for reassuring me that the second book is worth hunting down.

    ETA: We have it in our library! It’s on the way.

  2. Ahh… I’m not sure you’re going to like all the developments with Chess. Like Book of Tongues, I finished this book apprehensive about where she was going with it, but I’ve got much more faith in her this time around. :D

    I’m not going to say anything that will give away specific plot developments, but after this book I’m no longer so certain that it’s doomed to end in tragedy. To be sure, things are pretty grim right now, but given Chess’s character development, it feels like he’s earned a happy ending, narratively speaking. He’s become a character who (maybe) deserves one, rather than what he was at the start — a bad person who deserved the bad end he had coming.

  3. Glad to hear you’re still liking the ride!;) And while I obviously don’t want to say more, I think you’ve made some very keen observations about Chess’s evolution/what these changes may bode for the future. Here’s hoping you find A Tree of Bones as satisfying to read as I did to write.

    Funnily enough, I’m wavering back and forth between either Kay’s Under Heaven or Kameron Hurley’s Infidel as my next book. Both have their attractions. Considering I just blazed through Peter Watts’s Starfish and Maestrom, however, I may well join you on the thinly-veiled historical fantasy tip.

  4. Hah, well, “narratively speaking” isn’t something you can count on in fiction any more than you can count on it in the real world though. It’s just something I’ve become more aware of recently, through making a concerted effort to identify why certain stories are satisfying and others aren’t.

    (Aside, total shameless flattery but hey, everyone loves that: that moment in the middle of the book when Rook’s in the city and (for lack of a better phrase) their song comes on — jesus christ, you gutted me. I did that sharp-inhale thing like I’d gotten suckerpunched, because damn but you made my heart break for those two. Well done, you.)

    Synchronicity~! Under Heaven was what I started this morning when I was waiting for an interview and had time to kill, and I’m quite liking it so far. I’d been wary of it because Orientalism-fail is something I have a hair trigger for, but (thus far) he’s doing extremely well. It kind of reminds me of the way he writes women — that as he’s building the character, he’s cognizant of differences (male vs female, western vs Chinese) but doesn’t allow that to overwhelm everything else. I dunno, I haven’t pinned it down yet; I’ll probably write more about it later. You should read it so we can discuss it! :D

    Peter Watts had me at flesh-eating bacteria, balloons tied to his cats, and vampires in deep space. Haven’t read either of the two you mentioned, but I enjoyed Blindsight immensely. The scene where they’re first making contact with the aliens gave my linguistic little soul a nerdgasm.

  5. Maybe I should have said that I find Chess’ character fascinating rather than being my “favorite.” He certainly has erred in his ways! But I want to find out what happens to him and Rook.

  6. Huh, crazy, for some reason I never got notified of this comment. Anyway.

    I read Blindsight when I was complaining to a friend about there being nothing new under the sun in vampire fiction and she said, Have you read Blindsight?

    What’s funny is that I’m kind of the opposite with Peter Watts — because since reading Blindsight I’ve become aware of some sexism fucking fail that he’s been involved in, and it taints my perception of his works the same way that knowing about Orson Scott Card IRL killed his books for me.

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