BOOK & BLOG
June 3, 2006
Its not too often that a sequel lives up to a brilliant original, and not too often that I recommend a writer twice. My thinking is that if you read the first book review, picked up the book and enjoyed it, youre likely to get the next.
I highly recommended Sarah Monettes MELUSINE a few months ago, and I still believe its the best book Ive read in the past twelve months.
Im going to give THE VIRTU, Monettes second fantasy, just as strong a recommendation. Monette can write like a dream. Both MELUSINE and THE VIRTU are told through the voices of two characters, Felix Harrowgate and Mildmay the Fox. Brought up under startlingly similar circumstances, theyve evolved into different creatures. Felix is beautiful and a powerful wizard; he is charming, manipulative, brilliant, and cruel, but he does have a finer side. Mildmay is disfigured by a facial scar, and before THE VIRTU opens, he has been almost crippled by the adventures of the two in MELUSINE. Mildmay is inarticulate but clever, ferociously loyal, and unstoppable when his goal is in sight. He is also a cat burglar and a murderer.
The Virtu is the extremely important magical object protecting the kingdom of Melusine that Felix was forced to break in the first novel. Felix has decided he has recovered enough power to repair the Virtu, so he leaves his safe haven with Mildmay in tow, to begin the dangerous journey back to Melusine. Since Felix is a hocus, a wizard, he is loathed in some of the lands through which the two much travel. Both men are red-headed, a trait regarded with deep suspicion because of its link with magic. In the company of a former governess, who is also not what she seems, the two do eventually arrive back in their homeland, somewhat worse for the wear and with odd companions in tow.
I wont reveal any more of the plot. I do think THE VIRTU (a hardback) would be much richer if youve read MELUSINE first. MELUSINE will be available as a paperback on June 27, the day THE VIRTU will be on the shelves. I cant give Monettes work a more vigorous thumbs-up.
I hope you’ve taken the time to fill out my web maven’s questionnaire. Dawn asked me if it would be all right to put it on the site, and of course I said yes. Dawn’s revisiting higher education, and the survey is part of one of her projects. Though we’ve never met, Dawn and I have worked together for several years now. When I first thought it might be nice to have an interactive feature on the Charlaine Harris site, I had no idea how it could be done. Frankly, I expected about one message every other week. Dawn and I soon realized we might have bitten off way more than we had anticipated, and after a lot of hard work on her part, the Q And A With Charlaine feature became what it is today.
What is it? Well, a little bit of everything. Sometimes readers really do ask me questions and I really do answer them. Sometimes readers talk to each other, and discuss not only their homes and families but far-ranging topics that can get a little sensitive from time to time . . . though I am proud of the civil attitude maintained on my website.
Sometimes, readers actually do talk about the books, and every now and then I am ascribed motives so subtle and convoluted that I shake my head in amazement.
Sometimes, the readers are right.
Once youve filled out the questionnaire, you might want to visit the other new feature (Charlaines Causes) -- or not. I never want to force any of my interests down anyone elses throat. But it seemed to me that if one person was influenced to become more educated about any of these worthwhile projects, or if one person wrote a little check to one of them, it was worth my while to have talked about them. (By the way, Im sorry I left out Heifer International, and I hope to add that to my little list; its a great organization.)
Have a great summer reading. Whats a vacation without a stack of books?
® 2010 Charlaine Harris