Speculative Fiction Reviews, Interviews, Art and Whatever Else!
Narration: Third Person subjective.
This episode includes chapters 10 through to 18.
So, the plot starts to thicken in episode 2 of The Last Quarrel, and the real foreboding of Gaelland's situation is starting to seep into the narrative as the Prince visits Baltimore with his retinue to examine the Duke's ship. All of a sudden, it's very obvious that more than one game is being played and Cavan is being swept along with it. And who exactly is on his side? Less people than he thinks me thinks! The main suspect is still there to ponder, but the little extra intrigues are broadening out the story line and giving it some more life.
I really admire how Lay has written Fallon's situation. This may be the first adventure fantasy I have read, in which the 'hero' has a realistically portrayed family life. He is the husband of a fretting wife that isn't supportive of his quest to become the man he wants to be; her fear overwhelming her ability to move forward or see him in danger. His son is young and vulnerable, so Fallon as frustrating as it is, is stuck in his village life because he genuinely cares about his family. When he does try, his wife's seeds of doubt take hold and thwart him from progressing.
At first it annoyed me, no doubt it's because I am used to never really seeing the hero being held back from the quest, 'go forth and conquer my brave love!'. But then it struck me that this, is actually a bit of a gem! I honestly don't know another book in this particular genre that takes the pains to show how this type of marital conflict might play out. How much easier it is to write an orphan, outcast or bachelor/ette, with no real familial ties to hold them back as they begin their journey! Kudos Mr. Lay!
The secondary characters aren't particularly well fleshed out, but most are still given enough background and personality to make them feel a part of the book and storyline. There are some characters, such as the Duchess, I would have liked some more solidity to, but it's hard to say whether that sort of thing might be addressed in future episodes.
My initial annoyance with the world building from episode 1, wasn't an issue in this installment. The cultural references to Ireland are toned down now the story moves forward, so I didn't feel the need to get out my trusty dissecting knife. I think if you were to read this as a whole book, rather than episodes, the similarities might not have seemed so intrusive.
I do think there are issues with releasing a fantasy in episodes. TV you can get away with, because you don't really need to use your imagination too much to see the grander picture. However, in fantasy novels you need something more substantial to latch on to for the world to build and flow, and then you can take breaks at natural junctures. It's quite disjointing to have that broken up into small pre-portioned chunks (though it probably affects me more because I tend to read over prolonged periods. 1 hour snippets probably confuse my brain!). As an adventure it does work well as an exciting cliffhanger though. I am still undecided as to whether I like the idea or not..
Time is still telling, but no matter my doubts on the structural issues, I am definitely intrigued by the plot and I have episode 3 lined up for the reading!