You thought I’d forgotten? Of course not. Read along, if you want!
We’re introduced to Marzban, who in any righteous interpretation of this universe would be one of those really maddening end-of-level bosses you have to dance around while he sits in one spot and booms out words that wreck your hitpoint bar. Also, Tsovinar takes a jab at motherhood, which makes me squint at her and have wonderings.
One of the real problems I find authors have – certainly first time authors – is what I call character voice. You’ll see a number of characters having similar patterns of speech, similar focuses on ideals and notions. It might just be as simple as vocabulary. There’s a useful technique here in Glory in the Thunder for other writers to embrace: A classicist vocabulary coupled with a class division. It does not matter how you want to cut it, Tsovinar and Barsamin do not use the same dialogue, even when they’re saying mostly the same things. This can be muddy when people of the same general station talk, but, still, thinking in terms of what separates characters is very useful, and good practice. The risk otherwise is dialogue where all the characters the author likes communicate like smug twelve year olds.
On that subject, hi Aramaz! Don’t worry, he gets traumatised, so he only sounds smug for a little bit.
The last time I really focused on an action sequence in this book it was the conflict between Solornel, Barsamin and Ismyrn, which I didn’t enjoy much. In that fight Tsovinar was the trump card, and here she’s the focus. It’s pretty evident that the author likes her – given the detail with which her many different abilities are applied; she trumps the God of the Law, she trumps archery, she trumps pretty much everything in this scene, and it’s clearly potent when she’s being able to just do the things she does. This is a character very realised in the author’s mind; the sort of thing this gods-as-focus novel style does excellently well. You don’t need an elaborate visual motif to show how her powers work, like you would for a spectacle based character like say, the X-Men. In this story, Tsovinar’s powers – which I am thinking are manipulation of wavelengths, therefore vibration, therefore sound, momentum of objects in flight, and just general speed of things like thrown fists – are so appliable and so diverse you really can’t appreciate how they work unless the narrative shows you their application in a variety of places.
Makes me feel bad for the poor schmuck who got landed a cruddy godhood like ‘strength.’ Loooser.
We’re then treated to some EXCITING FISCAL POLICY ACTION and IMPORTANT LEGAL BACKGROUND FILLING IN.
Scene jump to Rashk and Vahagn chatting away at some point in time, probably close to the now. This is important to provide villain banter, which is mostly interesting in that the phrase This is not a righteous world, it is a pious one hides here. That’s a very good phrase, a useful idea. Then there’s some prophecy to build tension, as ole reliably perverted evil jerk Rashk gets his gloat on, Vahagn is set up as the weaker of the two and therefore the bigger loser, and aforementioned god of strength is remarked upon as having sucky powers.
I feel a bit like I’ve read ahead, but I swear I haven’t.
I wonder if my earlier view on Solornel was misplaced. I felt that his monologuing before Barsamin and Ismyrn in his fight sequence was odd – but it really just seems if you want to get him talking, put him around a teenager. Is this a plot point? Was he forged to have a security flaw for teenagers? Given the subtly sciencey way Tsovinar’s powers work and Elliott’s background, I wouldn’t actually be surprised.
There is some other stuff. We were told the pieces would come together. Now they are coming together. People are threatened. Gods appear. People notice where they are. And we end on a da-da-dum one liner.
Another theme that seems replete in this setting is where there are people of a superior class – gods – and the people who can inherit their powers are connected by blood. The poor and underprivileged can also inherit them, but still there is the seemingly mandatory connection of inheritance. While godhood is a burden, it is also incredibly valuable, and after the original stars’ falling, it is something passed from person to person, from king to child. It is destiny, essentially, much like prophecy. In many ways, this is not a story about people who choose, but about people who are chosen, and how they react to that.