Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Shadowbridge


Shadowbridge is a world of linked spans arching high above the seas. It is a world of gods and magic, and above all, it is a world of stories. Leodora is a shadow-puppeteer who travels the spans of Shadowbridge collecting stories then retelling them in performances. However, forces are moving in the world and her past, and the pasts of her companions, are about to catch up with them.

Shadowbridge reminds me a bit of The Orphan’s Tales. The metaphor of bridges is quite obvious, tales linking one another to form a whole, though the book doesn’t have the narrative richness or complexity of Valente’s work.

Much of the book is told in flashback, telling the stories of the characters themselves. The character backgrounds as well as the Shadowbridge stories are the highlight and a pleasure to read, however, the main narrative told in the present suffers a bit. The fact that a good portion of it is told from the point of view of a character that is constantly drunk and suffers hallucinations certainly doesn’t help. Also, the book ended on a cliffhanger that made absolutely no sense at all. Hopefully, the second half of the duology will explain a few things. Frankly, I think the publishers made a mistake in splitting the book as I think the plot would make much more sense if the book could be read in its entirety.

To be honest, another problem I had was suspension of disbelief, no pun intended. I have no problem with the fact that this is a fantastical world with magic, but the concept of bridges that continue more or less forever was a little difficult to swallow. The whole point of a bridge is to go from one place to another. Why would you have a bridge that goes nowhere? Why are there no platforms or floating cities? The bridges are metaphorical I get that. I just wonder if there was a better way Frost could have conceived it.

Characterizations are quite well done, although many of the human motivations were pretty cynical. Most of the characters act only for their own ends and nothing else, almost begging the gods to intervene. I’m not sure if that’s the point or if Frost merely wrote it that way.

I’ll withhold final judgment until I’ve read the second half, but for now I can only give the book a basic recommendation.

Rating: 7/10.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bloody 'ell. Um, Frost started Shadowbridge and most likely, given publishing schedules, FINISHED it before the Orphan's Tales were even published. If you're going to say something like that, make sure you get your facts right--otherwise, why should we trust in your opinion at all?

I'd also say these are such fundamentally different books--the Valente and the Frost. You seem to have fastened onto one superficial thing that seems like it might connect them...and then just gone with that, which makes no analytical sense.

JeffV

Benjamin said...

You're right I should have done more research on the background and I have edited the sentence. However, after some initial searches on the web I have yet to find any information that Shadowbridge was finished before The Orphan's Tales.

Second, this is intended to be an amateur blog. I have no intention of doing any major in-depth anaylses of the books I read beyond what I already do. I leave that to the professionals. I'm just interested in giving my opinion on a book I read. You certainly have the right to agree with me or not at all. If I make a mistake, then feel free to tell me, however I reserve the right to keep or change as I see fit.

I stand by my assertion that the two books are similar. I never said it was anything more than that and I only made the allusion once. With all due respect I think you're reading too much into it.