I finished Kate Elliott's Traitors' Gate last night. Stayed up late to do it, despite the fact that I was losing the fight against the latest upper respiratory bug, had cared for a sick kid and a sick husband over the long weekend instead of writing or resting much myself, and have very insistent writing projects sick of waiting patiently for my attention (which explains why they think my paltry attempts to resume their halted progres is HORRID and UNWORTHY and WHAT WORTHLESS CRAP HAS CONSUMED THAT ATTENTION SO AS TO RESULT IN SUCH A TRAGIC DISPLAY YOU'D THINK ALL THIS TIME OFF WOULD RESULT IN GOLD PURE GOLD UPON YOUR RETURN).
Part of me wants to devote a very thinky post to reviewing this book and the whole trilogy because there's a lot of good stuff to crunch in there. The other part must bow down to the insistent voices of my own writing projects and stop finding ways to give too much of myself to things other than them. So I'll compromise and give a brief, scattered recall of what I liked about this book and the series in a quick post. One of these days I'll get good at rewarding myself with such fun posts if I've made certain amounts of progress in my writing. Best I focus on getting back on the writing horse at all for the moment.
Where was I? Ah, Traitor's Gate.
First, stayed up past my bed time because of the particular binds and conflicts Elliott forced upon her characters. She found a satisfying ending despite elements of it being rather sad and open-ended. As a writer, I think I would have frozen halfway through the truly sticky ordeals I was creating and started revising in order to get to the Shiny Happy Ending. So I kept reading, sensing that the ending wasn't going to be bliss, but trusting that I was still going to appreciate where it got me after the journey of those three books. I took some mental notes on that score, but I think it might be a while before I feel confident enough to pull off a similar feat.
Also on the writing score, even though I knew what one particular character had done and could see the trend of where he was going to land, I still read with anticipation how each of the characters who interacted with him came to discover the actions and arc and what they would do about it and how it would impact their own arc. Furthermore, deftly weaving politics and morality and gender and sexuality into the voices of many characters and not coming off preachy in any way? Awesome. Hell, even the occasional asyouknowbobbing in the dialog was helpful rather than aggravating because it actually quickly and concisely and in a character's voice gave me information from the past two doorstops of books that was more than a little fuzzy in my memory.
At some point during the commute home, I requested my brain provide something coherent and thought-provoking to offer as a deeper reader response than *fangirl squee*. The brain actually came up with something.
The heroes in this story continually questioned themselves and their understanding of the world. They weren't afraid to see their flaws and try to change or at least try to do their best despite them. They doubted but kept trying their best, particularly to let others have power to choose for themselves their own paths. The villains rarely questioned themselves, and if they did, the questions immobilized them, or the questions were rigged to provide a false answer or the one they wanted. They never wanted others to have power that they could not control or overtake, particularly when it came to how other folk should live their lives. And that's why, despite an ending in which an antagonist endures fairly triumphant (hopefully vague enough not to be a spoiler), the protagonists actually have a triumph of their own, because they are still able and willing to question themselves and the world around them, and to try their best to restore power to those who have none.
And that's my deep thought for the day.