Sunday, May 13, 2012

"Honor's Paradox" by P.C. Hodgell

(cover from

Honor's Paradox (2011) is the sixth volume in P.C. Hodgell's Kencyrath fantasy series. I described the series in my review of the previous volume, Bound in Blood, and I won't repeat that now. But I guess I'm left with not much to say here.

Honor's Paradox concludes Jame's experiences in Tentir, the randon college, which has been the focus of the previous two volumes as well. And apparently, it wraps up her experiences as the Earth Wife's Favorite, too. All of this seems to indicate that the next volume will move on.

But there's really nothing new in this volume. As a continuation - and conclusion, hopefully - of the Tentir thread, it's fine. I enjoyed this trilogy dealing with the randon college. (The first book of that, To Ride a Rathorn, might be my favorite of the series.) But this series is 30 years old now, and I suppose I'm getting impatient. Will the story ever end?

I'm struggling to think of anything new we learned in this book. I guess we learned the reason why assassins targeted the Knorth women, so many years ago, but that's about it. Even the relationships among the main characters don't advance much.

OK, I had the same complaint with Bound in Blood, which may or may not have been valid then. If anything, there's even less that's new in this one, but at least the story advances - or, rather, seems ready to advance. Jame appears to be finished with Tentir and ready for new adventures. That's welcome.

But Hodgell's fantasy series has been especially appealing because of how imaginative it is. In fact, it's really bizarre in places. So a volume - or two - with nothing new loses that particular appeal. Jame is still a great character, but unless the story advances, we're left with just... reruns.

In this case, there's nothing new, but the story seems like it might be ready to advance. That's something, anyway.

I don't want to leave you with the wrong impression. Honor's Paradox is still entertaining. I read it in a single day. It's disappointing only because of my expectations for the series. It's still a fun read, and if you've followed the series this far, you won't want to stop now.

PS. I just have to comment on the cover of this book (shown above). Presumably, that's Jame, along with an Arrin-ken. But in the book, Jame is supposed to be very thin. She and her twin brother are constantly being mistaken for each other (admittedly, that's very hard to believe when it happens, not least because he's ten years older than she is). And to the dismay of her followers, she's quite plain in her clothing choices.

Now me, I rather doubt that the buxom woman on the cover would ever be mistaken for a man, especially with such a plunging neckline. That's so far beyond poetic license that it seems completely nuts, don't you think?

At the same time, the Arrin-ken are supposed to be catlike,... but that's just a lion with funny ears. A little bit of poetic license - or at least imagination - would have been welcome there.

OK, I rarely pay much attention to the cover of a book. (Indeed, Jame was wearing the same thing on the cover of Bound in Blood, I guess) But I had to comment about this one. It's colorful, and certainly eye-catching, but it really seems to bear very little relation to the book.

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