Saturday, March 26, 2016
Tell the Wind and Fire
New York has been split into two sides: Light and Dark. They need each other, but the Light suppresses that Dark and the Dark loathes the Light. Lucie Manette is a Light magician born in the Dark of a Light magician and a Dark magician. She came to the Light city because her father was unjustly punished in a barbaric cage, left to die. Lucie stood outside of her father's cage night after night in protest and became known as the Golden Thread in the Dark. Because of publicity, the Light city took notice, released her father, and allowed her to live in the Light with every luxury she didn't have in the Dark. She fell in love with Ethan Stryker, the heir of a powerful family who rules the Light and oppresses the dark. Ethan is almost murdered by Light guards due to being accused of treason until his doppelganger Carwyn saves him on a whim. The soulless doppelganger is now loose without the collar that marks him as such thanks to Lucie's sympathy. Has she just given the rebellion called the Sans-merci their key player? Has she doomed everything she loves?
Tell the Wind and the Fire is a fantasy laced retelling of A Tale of Two Cities. I was never a Dickens fan, so I stopped at Great Expectations and only read it because it was required for school. The story is pretty well known and Sarah Rees Brennan does a wonderful job of creating her own fantastical world and characters that provoke shades of the original story. The Light and Dark city illustrate the situation and tension between the poor and rich during the French Revolution. The atrocities, people, and politics are different, but the feeling is the same. The Light and Dark city are ruled by Light magicians who only are interested in Dark magicians for survival and nothing more. When they use magic, Light magicians get a build up of magic in the blood. Dark magicians drain the blood, which is required use for their magic. Instead of setting up some sort of symbiotic relationship, the Dark city and magicians are treated as lesser. The Light totalitarian regime is complete with thugs patrolling Dark streets and killing for any tiny infraction, public cages that torture people to death to show others what can happen if they oppose the Light, restricted access to clothing, foods, and necessary goods, and social ostracizing of Dark magicians. I have tons of sympathy of those living in the Dark city, but the Sans-merci advocate using similar tactics and commit terrorist acts for their revolution, becoming the monsters they rail against.
The characters were mostly well fleshed out and interesting. Lucie is my favorite character. Every action she chooses has her survival in mind. She saved her father and became the Golden Thread in the Dark to save her father, not to become a symbol of the rebellion. Understandably, she feels like a fraud because she did nothing more to save others in the Dark city, but she does care for their plight. She sees herself as a fairly meaningless person and doesn't want to put her father in danger. Her greatest strength is her ability to care for people despite their flaws. She sees the best in people and doesn't let things blind her to seeing the situation the way it is: one group usurping another and committing exactly the same atrocities. I was frustrated with her for not being honest with her loved ones. Her thought process was pretty sound, but trust is so important and it's so typical for misinformation and half truths to lead to badness in romance situations. Carwyn is my second favorite character. He's snarky, irreverent, and pessimistic. He's the lowest of the low of both societies since doppelgangers are created with the darkest magic to save a baby from death. Everyone thinks the worst of him, so he's fine with fulfilling those expectations. Doppelgangers are supposedly soulless, but Carwyn has a lot going on underneath that impervious shell. When he opens up, it's heartbreaking and beautiful. Unfortunately, the person looks like (Ethan Stryker) is kind of dull in comparison. He isn't overly horrible and does some good things, but we learn them secondhand.
Tell the Wind and the Fire is a fine book that I expect from Sarah Rees Brennan. It has adventure, darkness, romance, and emotion. The first few chapters were fun to read because Brennan just throws you into her world and then gives some backstory a little later. I personally like it and enjoy trying to figure out the world before it's spelled out for me. I hope it will become a series, but I haven't seen anything confirming it. I would like to see what happens to the world afterwards since it would be a large departure from A Tale of Two Cities. I've seen some people complain about the plot being predictable, but that's what happens when it's based on a previous work. I look forward to whatever Brennan writes next.
My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins