Book reviews, art, gaming, Objectivism and thoughts on other topics as they occur.

May 6, 2006

Resenting the Hero

Ayn Rand once remarked (in her introduction to Atlas Shrugged, I believe) that there are three kinds of stories: presenting an old abstraction by the same old means (booooring), presenting an old abstraction through new means (most good literature), and presenting a brand-new abstraction.

She also commented (In The Romantic Manifesto) that there are some old abstractions that, while containing worthy stories, have been told and re-told so many times that there really remains no new way of approaching them. They are cliches, bromides, that no author worth their salt would bother with. (Her specific comment regarded the story of the prostitute with a heart of gold.)

The story of this novel is, I think, one of those cliches: A Man, a Woman, Forced to Work Together by Circumstances Beyond Their Control, They Develop an Instant Dislike, but Through Their Trials They Gain Respect and Even Affection for One Another . . .

Heard it before, haven't you? I personally was doubtful that anyone could turn this story into something interesting and original. Well, in her new book, Resenting the Hero, Moira J. Moore makes a darn good run at it. Good enough, in fact, that she actually succeeds.

I was literally stunned by the quality of this book, and I spent 2 hours taking up valuable space at Olive Garden because I just couldn't put it down. The opening seems a little ominous, but within 20 pages I was riveted by the characters, who are extremely complex and unexpected. Unusually, though, their motivations and reasons are stunningly comprehensible. You may not agree with everything they do, but you can understand why they do it. Even the villian is comprehensible, and without this making him in the least sympathetic.

It is also an unadulterated joy to read a fantasy novel where nothing is put in just for the heck of it, as flavor or to make the book more "authentic". Everything that happens has some purpose to it and is tied back into the novel. The plot is actually a logical sequence of events, driven by the choices of the characters.

It's not a tremendously deep or philosophical book in a lot of ways, but it accomplishes its aims with competence and self-assurance and is a lovely thing to see in the wasteland of stilted or downright bad new fantasy authors.

Rating: 4.0

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