19 January 2012

Book Banter -- Queen of Swords

Title: Queen of Swords (Wilderness series bk. 5)
Author: Sara Donati
Length: 546 pages (ebook version)
Genre: historical fiction
Plot Basics: The adventures of the the Bonner family continue, picking up right where Fire Along the Sky ended. Hannah Bonner and her half-brother, Luke Scott, are pursuit of Jennet who has been captured by pirates. In a desperate trade, Jennet has given her and Luke's new baby boy to a seemingly-prominent New Orleans family to care for, hoping it will keep the boy safe. Reunited with Luke and Hannah after a rescue attempt, the three go to New Orleans to get the boy back. But, the city is on the cusp of war and racial tensions also run high. It will take all the cunning the family and their allies posses to keep together, stay safe and hope of returning to their beloved New York Lake in the Clouds home.

Banter Points: Finishing this series is one of my reading goals for the year and I decided to get with it right away. The book, like the others in the series, is sweeping in scope, bringing life to what could otherwise be a dusty history lesson about the War of 1812. Coming back to the characters is a bit like seeing distant family, people you are glad to reconnect with once a year or so and everybody's got great stories to tell of everything that's happened in the interim.

Bummer Points: Several times in the narrative, Donati broke away from the main characters and wrote whole chapters in italics from the points of view of minor characters or people who can witness the action when the protagonists couldn't. While once might have been effective, the multiple uses of this device just felt cheap and like the author got stuck in how to move the plot forward any other way. The whole book seemed to be a lot more "showing" instead of "telling." I don't think I envy historical authors, because this has to be a hard pitfall to overcome when there's so much about the activities and actions that are foreign to modern readers.

Word Nerd Recommendation: I still like the series and fans of big history series books should pick this up. It's also nice to see the setting in a different period (not Revolutionary or Civil Wars.)

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